FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard in relation to the ongoing negotiations with CUPE nursing home workers:

On Saturday, March 9, a temporary stay order was granted by the Court of Queen's Bench for 10 days to protect the health, safety and security of nursing home residents. Today, we understand that the stay order will not be extended. Extending the stay order would have given residents and their families peace of mind that no legal strike activity can take place.

For some time, the government has been saying that the services provided by nursing home workers are essential. The work they do is extremely important as part of the long-term care and senior care system in the province. This is not a political issue; it is an issue of resident safety. That is why we will have no choice but to appeal this decision with the Court of Appeal.

While I support the collective bargaining process and workers’ ability to strike, the health and safety of nursing home residents continues to be my primary concern. When the union served the employer with 24-hour notice of strike action at 3 a.m., without any essential services in place, the provincial government had to react in order to protect the health, safety and security of nursing home residents.

The provincial government and the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes remain committed to working towards a negotiated agreement with the union. We are prepared to return to the table once the mediator recommends that negotiations should resume.