Nursing Home Workers React to NB Court of Appeal Decision

Fredericton On April 25th 2019, the NB Court of Appeal rendered a decision in the matter of the Province’s appeal of Justice Garnett’s decision to not grant a Stay on the matter of the right to strike for nursing home workers. Reasons for the decisions are to be provided at a later date.

The Province was successful in its appeal and a Stay on nursing home workers’ right to strike has been granted at least until the judicial review of NB Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act commences. This review is to be heard on May 24th, 2019.

“I am very disappointed to see how the courts have successfully been used as a delay tactic by the government. They are not taking their constitutional responsibilities towards nursing home workers,” said Sharon Teare, president of the NB Council of Nursing Homes Unions.

CUPE feels that the government is only delaying the inevitable, as the Labour and Employment Board has recognized the unconstitutional nature of the ESNHA because of a 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

“Premier Higgs’ lawyers know full well what the Supreme Court of Canada said in the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour v Saskatchewan [2015] case. You cannot deny workers their fundamental rights to fair collective bargaining, which either includes the right to strike or binding arbitration in the case of essential service designations,” said Teare.

Nursing Home workers asked for binding arbitration on the issue of wages, specifically because real wage improvements are a necessary first step to address recruitment and retention crisis.

Until the courts reconfirm the unconstitutional nature of the ESNHA, unfettered binding arbitration is the only appropriate remedy for workers, residents and employers at this time.