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Competing amendments to N.B. essential services in nursing homes bill to be introduced next week

New Brunswick Essential Services in Nursing Homes bill facing competing amendments
WATCH: The People’s Alliance will likely be the deciding factor of what form amendments to the Essential Services in Nursing Home Act pass, or if they even pass at all. Silas Brown has more.

The People’s Alliance will likely be the deciding factor on what form amendments to the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act pass, or if they even pass at all.

The government has until Jan. 2 to make court-ordered adjustments to the bill, which is intended to lay out a process for determining how many workers in a nursing home are essential, meaning they would have to stay on the job in the event of a strike.

READ MORE: New Brunswick’s minority government to put bill to confidence vote

It’s something all parties are committed to getting passed before this session of the house ends next week in order to avoid the possibility of nursing home workers walking off the job en masse in the new year.

However, some opposition parties are stuck on a clause that looks to place ability-to-pay conditions on binding arbitration with the union.

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“He just wants to get his way, the premier just wants to get his way,” said Green Party Leader David Coon. “He doesn’t, still, understand this is a minority government and we need to work together to get things done and he’s unwilling to do so with respect to this bill.”

The Liberals are equally opposed to the clause and both parties have spoken about moving an amendment next week to remove it.

“We’ve always said that the binding arbitration, with these conditions in there, we will not support,” said Restigouche West MLA Gilles LePage.

But those parties would need help from the People’s Alliance to hit the threshold needed to move an amendment and the Progressive Conservatives are looking to woo them with an amendment of their own.

Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters yesterday that he would be declaring a confidence vote, meaning there would be an election should the bill fail to pass.

3 unions in N.B. taking issue with proposed changes in nursing home laws
3 unions in N.B. taking issue with proposed changes in nursing home laws

People’s Alliance leader Kris Austin confirmed he had seen an amendment, but refused to say what it contains or which way his caucus will vote.

“There is an amendment that we’ve been pushing for to see in the bill that we’re hoping to see delivered to kind of balance it out a little bit more,” he said.

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Higgs confirmed the existence of a conservative amendment and said he’s hopeful it will win over the alliance.

He said the changes would be minor and that his party would not support any effort to remove the conditions on binding arbitration for the bill.

“Because this is the difference between whether our seniors will have care in the new year or if that care will be in jeopardy and so it is critical,” he said.