Healthcare employers working to retain staff

Wages, premiums and retention bonuses are all in the mix

Several collective agreements from the healthcare sector display the lengths to which employers are prepared to go to attract and retain scarce medical staff.

First, wage increases are healthy, though by no means extravagant. The Regional Health Authorities of Manitoba will increase wages by 10 per cent over a two-year agreement. This is made up of 2.5 per cent wage increases in each year, as well as a 2.3 per cent market adjustment in the first year and a 2.7 per cent one in the second year. Ontario’s acute care nurses come in next at 3.25 per cent, 3.0 per cent and 3.0 per cent over three years. Finally, the Capital District Health Authority (CDHA) in Halifax is providing 2.9 per cent in each of three years. It is also adding a new step on the pay grid 3.5 per cent above the previous maximum for nurses with 25 years of service.

Economic incentives are also being offered in other ways. Ontario is giving a lump sum on signing that ranges up to $3,256 for full-time nurses with 25 years of service. Manitoba has taken over payment of disability and rehabilitation premiums, effectively increasing wages by one per cent.
Manitoba and Ontario have sweetened vacation provisions for long-service nurses and the CDHA has increased stand-by and education premiums. Northern premiums in Manitoba have been enriched and broadened in scope.

The CDHA has made a move aimed at retaining potential retirees. Those who continue working after becoming eligible for a pension will receive a 2.0 per cent incentive after 12 months. Ontario is extending medical and dental benefits to nurses between the ages of 65 and 70 on the same basis as younger ones.

Manitoba nurses are guaranteed to be the fourth-highest paid in Canada; if they fall below that rank, an interest arbitration will be convened. This mirrors an earlier Nova Scotia provision.

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