Ontario hospital nurses will be getting raises of what their union says amounts to an average of 11 per cent over two years.
Talks between the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ontario Hospital Association failed to produce a deal, so an arbitrator had to decide the terms.
William Kaplan says in an arbitration decision released today that the evidence clearly shows there is a nursing recruitment and retention crisis in Ontario’s hospitals, and compensation is one of the best ways to address it.
It’s the first contract since the nurses _ and other broader public sector workers _ were subject for three years to a wage restraint law known as Bill 124, which capped increases at one per cent a year.
Nurses and government critics have blamed Bill 124 for making it more difficult to recruit and retain nurses, particularly while they were on the front lines of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
An Ontario court found Bill 124 unconstitutional late last year, but the government appealed.
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Even though that ruling is under appeal, the nurses were able to go back to the arbitrator to secure additional wages for 2020-2022 under the previous contract, since the contracts were subject to reopening if Bill 124 was repealed or declared invalid.
They were awarded additional wage increases of 0.75 per cent, one per cent, and two per cent for each of the three years, respectively.
Hospital workers such as dietary aides, personal support workers and registered practical nurses were also awarded additional back pay due to Bill 124 being found unconstitutional, as were ONA members working in the charitable homes sector, and paramedics at the Ornge air ambulance service.
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