REGINA, February 11, 2016: Today, the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) notified the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) that collective bargaining has reached an impasse. This decision comes after more than seven (7) months at the bargaining table.
“We are incredibly disappointed and believe this to be a missed opportunity for SAHO to collaborate with the province’s almost 10,000 registered nurses on finding solutions to improving both patient care and workplaces,” says SUN President, Tracy Zambory. “A key item of concern is SAHO’s attempt to significantly restrict the ability of registered nurses to exercise their professional judgement to ensure safe staffing levels when critically needed.”
In current practice, registered nurses can often call in additional operational resources, including IT, maintenance, kitchen, or even snow removal staff when needed. However, only some registered nurses have a very limited ability to use their professional judgement to call in the additional nursing staff they deem necessary to provide safe patient care. SAHO’s proposal to restrict this even further places registered nurses in a compromising position from a professional standpoint, as it impedes their ability to address immediate and urgent patient care needs as well as exercise their responsibility to assess and coordinate care as defined by legislation.
“The language SUN is proposing reinforces the registered nurses’ professional responsibility to flag and deal with patient care issues in real-time – it’s definitely patient-centred,” says Zambory. “Every day, registered nurses are charged with the responsibility of having to make life-saving decisions about patients in this province, and their ability to independently determine whether staff levels are sufficient to provide the safest care possible at any given moment is a crucial element of safe patient care.”
SUN and SAHO entered into a new collaborative, solutions-based bargaining approach to meet the needs of patients, SUN members, and the employer. The shared focus was on finding solutions to improve the delivery of health care, develop quality workplaces, and put patient safety at the forefront.
“We truly believe that without the efforts of all parties focusing on the pressures facing healthcare and the need to ensure safe patient care, there may be serious consequences for the entire system,” Zambory said.
Talks have stalled because SAHO has backed away from addressing the priorities that the parties identified for both this round of bargaining and the tentative renewed Partnership Agreement with the Government and Regional Health Authorities. The shared priorities include addressing employee engagement and workforce stability; reducing overtime and other avoidable costs to the system; and involving the largest provider group in collaborative approaches to improving the delivery of healthcare in the province.
“This province’s registered nurses are left wondering whether those advising SAHO were ever truly committed to the bargaining process,” says Zambory. “SUN entered into this solutions-based approach in good faith, recognizing that in today’s challenging fiscal climate, collaboration on shared issues is the best way to improve things for patients, registered nurses and the system.”
Saskatchewan’s registered nurses have been without a collective agreement for close to two years, with the previous agreement having expired on March 30, 2014. SUN and SAHO have been actively bargaining since July of 2015.
SUN represents 10,000 Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs), Registered Nurse(Nurse Practitioner)s (RN(NP)s) and graduates in the province.
For the full release and backgrounder please see the attached.
Lars Murran, Public Relations Officer