FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has introduced amendments to the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act. These amendments would enable meaningful collective bargaining by ensuring an appropriate number of employees can strike while not interrupting essential services, to avoid endangering nursing home residents.

“There is no question in our minds that workers in nursing homes perform an essential service,” said Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard. “That is why we are pleased to be introducing legislation that will help to protect nursing home residents while also being fair to nursing home workers with respect to their ability to strike.”

“While contract negotiations are ongoing, resident safety is of the utmost importance,” Shephard said. “I am optimistic that these amendments will keep residents safe and help us to find an essential services balance that works for everyone.”

The amendments include:

  • A definition of essential services.
  • Allowing for binding arbitration with conditions that are limited in quantity and as neutral as possible, so they do not significantly interfere with the ability to engage in meaningful collective bargaining.
  • Outlining what parties can and cannot do during the binding arbitration process.

The amendments also include bringing registered nurses who are employed in nursing homes under the act, as they are a bargaining group critical to the well-being of residents.

The amendments come following a 2018 decision by the New Brunswick Labour and Employment Board that a section of the act was unconstitutional.