N.S. government to pay wage increase awarded by arbitrator

An unexpected 3.5 per cent increase too much for local health authority: Minister

An arbitration settlement for Nova Scotia nurses handed down in November 2011 will be paid for by the Nova Scotia Department of Health.

The extra $5.5 million in wages awarded to nurses who work for the Capital District Health Authority (CDHA) will be covered by the province, Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald said. The money will come from a Treasury Board fund, she said.

Despite the CDHA willing only to provide a one per cent per year increase over a two-year agreement, the arbitrator awarded the 2,500 nurses a wage increase of 7.1 per cent over three years.

The Department of Health originally said district health authorities would be responsible for paying any wage increases from their own budgets. However, the arbitrator’s decision contains an average 3.5 per cent wage increase in the third year that MacDonald says was unanticipated. As a result, the government intervened.

The CDHA will be responsible for paying the one per cent increase in the first and second years, and the 1.6 per cent increase scheduled for May 1, 2012.

Terms of the agreement reached in June 2011 also includes a $15 overtime meal allowance, improvements to vacation entitlements, recognition of alternative religious holidays and an increase from $1.50 to $1.75 for shift and weekend premiums.

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