New Brunswick launches phased-retirement program for nurses

Province hopes move will keep experienced nurses in the system longer, help attract new recruits

The New Brunswick government, in an effort to retain the nurses it has and recruit new ones, has introduced a phased-retirement program for nurses in the hospital sector.

Starting in January 2004, eligible nurses can reduce their work hours to either 60 per cent or 50 per cent and then access their pension to supplement their income. The age of eligibility will be 56 as of Jan. 1, 2004 and 55 as of Jan. 1, 2005. Only full-time nurses within the hospital sector can apply to the program.

“We expect this innovative measure, the first of its kind in Canada, to be an effective tool for retention and recruitment,” said Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister Rodney Weston, who is also responsible for the Office of Human Resources. “This comes as the result of extensive discussions with the nurses union and the department of health and wellness, and all parties are committed to making this program a success.”

The government will assess the impact the program has on the health care system in two years and will invite the union to participate in the evaluation. The province hopes the program will keep experienced nurses in the system while they are transitioning to retirement.

According to the government, 29 nurses will be eligible for the program in 2004 and an additional 42 will be eligible in 2005. There are about 4,400 full-time equivalent nursing positions within New Brunswick’s hospital sector.

The program will necessitate an increase of 0.1 per cent in the pension contribution rates for both the employer and employees — a total of about $250,000 each. Backfilling positions is expected to cost the government about $1,500 per participant per year.

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