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Union wants better wages for nurses at one of busiest Maritime hospitals


Emergency room nurses at one of the busiest hospitals in the Maritimes are asking their employer to recognize their training and pay them accordingly.

"Our nurses are working 12 to 16 hour days. We have nurses that have 25 years' experience. Very difficult to get time off," said Hugh Gillis, the first president of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU).

The NSGEU is now going public with its plea to improve working conditions for nurses at the Halifax Infirmary's emergency department.

The union says it's also about pay and retention. Gillis points to salary comparisons for nurses working with Nova Scotia Health and travel nurses who work for private agencies that then get hired by the province.

“When we have nurses for Nova Scotia Health being paid half of what private nurses are making in the province, we simply can’t compete," he said.

Gillis says this leads to nurses leaving for other jurisdictions and burnout. The NSGEU wants the province to level the playing field.

In a statement to CTV News, officials with the Department of Health and Wellness say they are trying.

“We know nurses and other health-care workers are tired and need support. While we continue to work to train and recruit more nurses, we know retention measures will also be needed. We continue to work on this, both through nursing negotiations and as part of the budget process,” read the statement.

Nurse practitioner Tammy O'Rourke says the NSGEU is "right on target."

She says she works with many young nurses entering the profession.

“They do want a work/life balance, they want security and you know, they want respect. They want to be treated for the education that they’ve obtained, a four year undergraduate degree,” O’Rourke says.

An education that they say right now in Nova Scotia is not paying off. Top Stories

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