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B.C. nurses ratify new deal with more than 13% in wage increases over 3 years

Click to play video: 'BC Nurses’ Union ratifies new agreement'
BC Nurses’ Union ratifies new agreement
WATCH: A new agreement for B.C. nurses has now been ratified, with 61 per cent of members voting in favour. – Apr 27, 2023

Nurses in British Columbia officially have a new deal with their provincial government employers.

The ratified collective agreement, shared Thursday, includes key commitments to more than 13 per cent in wage increases over three years, and in a Canadian first, minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios.

The deal is retroactive to April 1, 2022, and will expire March 31, 2025.

“The agreement also includes significant improvements in job flexibility and access to leaves, as well as investments in workplace health and safety,” reads a news release from the BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU).

“New contract language will also advance the principles of diversity, equity and inclusivity to ensure all BCNU members are welcome in their workplace.”

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Just over 60 per cent of the Nurses’ Bargaining Association members voted in favour of the tentative agreement reached at the end of March. The new deal applies to those in acute care, community care, public health, long-term care, and other provincial health-care settings.

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Nurses will receive a pay raise of 25 cents per hour in the first year plus an increase of 3.24 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2022. Retroactive to April 1 this year, they will also receive a raise of 6.75 per cent.

In the third year, members will see a two-per-cent increase, plus a potential cost of living adjustment up to a maximum of three per cent. The deal also includes “significant increases” to shift premiums, on-call rates, responsibility pay and isolation travel allowance, the BCNU said.

Click to play video: 'B.C. health minister announces details of tentative agreement with nurses'
B.C. health minister announces details of tentative agreement with nurses

The ratification of the deal cements a number of provincial funding agreements as well.

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Earlier this month, Health Minister Adrian Dix announced $750 million in funding to address a chronic, provincewide nursing shortage, which has resulted in “different standards, in different places in B.C.”

The funds will support the new nurse-to-patient ratios of one-to-one for critical care patients, one nurse for every two mental health patients, one-to-three for specialized care patients, and four-to-one for palliative care patients.

Click to play video: 'BC Nurses’ Union hold rally in downtown Vancouver'
BC Nurses’ Union hold rally in downtown Vancouver

Another $100 million will establish a nurse support fund with career-laddering opportunities, and $108.6 million will go towards retention strategies, such as mentorship incentives.

“The key part in what is happening is ensuring a standardization of care,” Dix said on April 4.

“These are changes that make British Columbia the number one place for nurses to be nurses.”

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At the time, BCNU president Aman Grewal called the deal “instrumental.”

“We’re very pleased in the government’s investment in nurses to address the nursing staffing shortage, and this goes a long way,” she said, adding that she expects some of the new changes will bring some nurses back into the system.

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