Alberta nurses hold pickets across the province Wednesday amid contract negotiations

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Alberta nurses are setting up nearly 30 information pickets around the province Wednesday as part of an organized day of action amid contract negations with the provincial government.

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The two sides have been sparring over a new contract since January 2020. Nurses say the government is proposing a three per cent rollback in pay as well as other cuts that represent at least a five per cent compensation reduction.

In a statement earlier this week, the United Nurses of Alberta said after 18 months on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are exhausted and overworked.

“Beds are closing because hospitals are short of nurses. This is a result of the pressure on the system caused by pandemic and a long history of understaffing nursing positions,” the union said in a statement.

“The rollbacks proposed by the government are an insult to nurses and won’t help Alberta recruit and keep health care workers, which is what is needed most to keep hospital beds open.”

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In his own statement Wednesday, Finance Minister Travis Toews said union leadership declined an offer to go to informal mediation.

“We must continue to find efficiencies across the public sector – it’s an essential piece to restoring fiscal health and ensuring sustainable public services,” he said.

“We know the appreciation and respect for health care workers runs deep and wide throughout the province. As bargaining continues, my hope is that unions and their employers can quickly come to a settlement that works for everyone, and is aligned with the fiscal realities we are facing.”

The United Nurses of Alberta represents 30,000 registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses and other health-care professionals.

More to come

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