BC Nurses gather for rally in Vancouver (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

New contract would force B.C. health authorities to hire new nurses or pay millions

Contract would hit budgets of hospitals operating without full contingent of nurses

B.C. health officials will have 100 million new reasons to hire more nurses if a new contract is ratified later this month.

Under the terms of the tentative contract, which will be voted on by union members later this month, nurses would get a premium for working in understaffed units.

The union is hoping the premium will spur the hiring of new nurses because, if staffing doesn’t meet baseline levels, the extra pay could leave officials with a combined $100 million gap in their budgets.

Those and other previously unreported details were disclosed in a special issue of the BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU) in-house magazine sent out to members. The BCNU declined to comment about the proposed contract, saying they would prefer to communicate directly with members.

The premium could be particularly relevant to nurses at hospitals like Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where Fraser Health spent more than $1 million in the 2017/18 fiscal year to fly in out-of-region nurses to adequately staff the emergency room. Although the hospital neared its full contingent of staffing last March, overtime rates at the hospital remain well above Fraser Health’s target. About five per cent of all hours paid to ARH staff between April and July of last year were overtime – one of the highest rates in the region. There are also 22 current job postings for nursing positions at ARH, with most being for casual, on-call employment.

The proposed contract would mean that, on short-staffed units, each nurse working would receive up to $5/hour extra. (Those working on larger units would receive a $3/hour premium.) The cost would be a significant incentive to hire more staff, the union’s magazine says: “Managers will not have money in their budgets to pay nurses this premium, creating a powerful incentive to staff appropriately in order to avoid shouldering the cost.”

The union magazine says “safe staffing” is the top priority for nurses and that the proposed agreement creates “a new direct patient care staffing assessment process.” The premium, the magazine says, will add a financial incentive to the equation.

The premium won’t kick in right away, though. Health authorities will have until April 1, 2020, to hire enough nurses to meet the baseline staffing requirements.

The contract also includes annual wage increases of two per cent over the next three years.

The nurses’ current contract is set to expire at the end of March.

In addition to nurses working in hospitals, the contract will also cover those employed in public health, home support and mental health facilities.

This story has been updated to reflect that nurses would receive a $5/hour premium on small units and a $3/hour premium on larger units. It originally incorrectly stated nurses would receive an $8/hour premium for larger units and a $3/hour premium on smaller units.

RELATED: ARH ER nurse vacancies filled after more than $1 million spent on out-of-town workers

RELATED: Tentative deal reached for 44,000 nurses across B.C.

LETTER: ER at Abbotsford Regional Hospital bursting at the seams


@ty_olsen
tolsen@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

One day cat cafe comes to Lake Country

The Lake Country Art Gallery will host the adoption event

The Lonely to celebrate Roy Orbison’s music

The tribute show will come to Kelowna Sept. 27

No one hurt in West Kelowna rollover

The crash took place at Sonoma Pines Drive and Carrington Road

Annual student film fest returns to UBC Okanagan

The 4th annual film fest returns April 29 at Mary Irwin Theatre

Garden wine tasting event offers flash sale for Mother’s Day

Better Earth Wine, Cider & Spirits Tasting and Garden Party will be held May 11

VIDEO: Are you concerned about Facebook leaking personal information?

Local Okanagan Facebook users speak on the social platform’s privacy settings

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Summerland auxiliary raised $1M for hospital tower

Funds came from sales at Summerland Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop

Eagle’s nest receives reno after Chase grass fire

BC Hydro used to dealing with osprey nests, not so much with bald eagles

Amber alert issued for 5-year-old Ontario boy

Ethan Montes is believed to be in the company of his mother, 47-year-old Juliet Mohammed

Air Canada schedule changing out of South Okanagan, at least for the summer

Air Canada released their updated schedule out of the Penticton airport on Thursday

Workshop digs up water wise gardens

Learn about Xeriscape gardening in the Okanagan

Vernon Have a Heart Radiothon returns

Donations, which will be given to the VJH Maternity Ward, are being accepted until 6 p.m. Thursday, April 25.

Most Read