Alberta reaches tentative deal with nurses that would impose 2-year wage freeze

A file photo of a nurse. File / Global News

The union for Alberta’s nurses is asking them to ratify a tentative deal that includes job security and a two-year wage freeze.

The proposed mediated collective agreement was agreed to on the weekend by the negotiating committee for the United Nurses of Alberta and is to be put to member representatives in Calgary on Jan. 25.

It would affect almost all of the province’s 30,000 nurses.

Heather Smith, president of the United Nurses of Alberta, said Monday the deal gives nurses the job security they were seeking during a tight economy — the assurance of no layoffs or reduction in hours.

The three-year deal, retroactive to April 2017, would also include a wage re-opening provision in the third year.

“It’s our committee’s assessment that this will satisfy the needs of our majority,” said Smith.

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“There are certainly going to be people who will not think that this is a good deal, but I think our committee’s assessment is that in this environment economically that’s the best that can be achieved.”

Other proposed changes include extension of maternity and parental leave to 18 months and additional leaves to care for critically ill loved ones.

There is also a provision to create an independent committee to assess concerns brought forward by nurses to improve patient care.

“If there are recommendations that come out of any step in the process that are not implemented or retracted, we can go to arbitration under our contract,” she said.

Alberta is facing a $10.3-billion deficit this year, and Finance Minister Joe Ceci has asked public-sector unions to consider zero wage increases while the province works to keep front-line jobs.

Last year, the government and the Alberta Teachers’ Association reached a deal that did not include salary increases for teachers. That contract is up at the end of this school year.

WATCH: What Alberta’s 2017 budget means for health care

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