During Friday’s negotiation session, the government presented its latest wage offer to the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions (NBCNHU), which represents nearly 4,600 workers in 51 nursing homes across New Brunswick.
Sharon Teare, President of the NBCNHU, expressed disappointment, stating, “This offer falls far short of meeting the pressing needs of nursing home workers who provide essential care for our seniors.”
Because of the significant gap between the two parties on monetary issues, the NBCNHU has officially filed for conciliation. “The provincial government has been out of touch with the urgent realities faced by nursing home workers, who struggle to meet basic needs like food and shelter,” added Teare.
Teare further explained, “The government’s proposed wage package equates to a mere $2.76 per hour for our lowest-paid workers after 5 years. This offer worsens the crisis in our sector, deepening disparities between worker needs and the rising cost of living.”
To provide context, inflation rates in New Brunswick have been significant: 2022 (7.26%), and 2023 (4% as of August), with optimist forecasts suggesting inflation will be near 2.33% for 2024, and 2% for 2025 and 2026. The compounded inflation rate since 2022 will be near 18.7%.
Meanwhile, the government’s latest wage offer remains below inflation for every year of the contract, with increases of 4% for 2022, 3% for 2023, 2% for 2024, 2% for 2025, 2% for 2026, which compounds to a total of 13.68%, a difference of 5% below inflation.
Teare emphasized, “Workers need real wage increases, not a 5% wage cut, to enhance care and address staff shortages. We urge Labour Minister Arlene Dunn to promptly appoint a conciliator for this critical matter. Workers have waited long enough for a fair deal, and the crisis in our system requires immediate attention,” concluded Teare.