Families feel relief over N.B. nursing home strike court order
A family who has a loved one in a New Brunswick nursing home says they can sleep better knowing a court order is in place barring nursing home workers from striking until at least April 17.
Ron Bruce visits with his wife Lynn at York Care Centre almost twice a day, every day. Lynn, 71, has Alzheimer’s.
When Ron can’t visit, he trusts the staff at York to take care of her, but a looming strike had him worried enough to put together a contingency plan.
“I would be here a lot earlier in the morning, 6:00 a.m., and probably here overnight during the strike, so yeah, we’re relieved,” says Ron Bruce.
That relief comes from Thursday’s ruling that nursing home workers in the province won’t be able to strike until at least April 17, when an appeal will be heard on the labour case which has become political and legal football over the last two weeks.
“We’re not talking about six-figure salaried people here,” says Kris Austin, leader of the People's Alliance of New Brunswick. “We’re talking about people who make $25,000 a year, many of them.”
On Thursday, the People’s Alliance joined with the Green Party, demanding that binding arbitration should be ordered if the government and the union can’t come to an agreement.
On Friday, New Brunswick’s Liberals joined that call, meaning a majority of the province’s legislature, 27 total members, are now calling for binding arbitration.
But Premier Blaine Higgs says his government can’t afford that practice.
“It’s basically a law of averages, we’re at four, they’re at 20, and we end up with 12,” explained Premier Higgs. “That resets the clock for all the other negotiations, so changing the game in the middle of a negotiating process is not an acceptable negotiating practice.”
The two sides are scheduled to return to the negotiating table on Monday afternoon.
In the meantime, some families like Ron Bruce, are able to breathe just a little bit easier, but still have concerns and want to see nursing home workers better compensated.
“I support the workers,” says Bruce. “I think they need a contract and they need a living wage, so if it comes to a strike I support them. I’d bite the bullet and make it through until they settled.”
Bruce says he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make sure Lynn gets the care she needs, but he hopes it doesn’t come to that.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.