N.S. premier wants to ban health strikes

Labour minister to draft alternate dispute resolution legislation

Following a one-day walkout at Halifax's IWK Health Centre last month, Nova Scotia Premier Rodney MacDonald is promising to prevent health-care workers from going on strike.

He said he will give the province's 32,000 health-care workers, including nurses and technicians, an alternate method of resolving failed contract negotiations.

Before introducing the anti-strike legislation in the fall, the Tory government will consult with unions and other Nova Scotians.

Environment and Labour Minister Mark Parent will be in charge of developing the new dispute resolution system. MacDonald said this will probably take the form of arbitration.

Many other provinces have legislation that limits the number of health workers who can strike. Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Alberta have replaced strikes with binding arbitration.

The Liberals and NDP said they will wait to see the legislation Parent comes up with before deciding if they will support the MacDonald's minority government.

The Nova Scotia Nurses Union, which represents 6,000 nurses in the province, are all renegotiating contracts this year and union president Janet Hazelton said talk of anti-strike legislation makes each side less likely to compromise.

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