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Members of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions pose for a photo with Saint John Harbour MLA Arlene Dunn following a meeting on June 26, 2023. Image: Brad Perry

Nursing home workers upset with province’s wage offer

By Brad Perry Jun 26, 2023 | 3:46 PM

A union representing nursing home workers say they are unhappy with a recent wage offer from the province.

Members of the New Brunswick Council of Nursing Home Unions visited a number of MLA offices on Monday.

It came a week after the union returned to the bargaining table with the employer, the New Brunswick Association of Nursing Homes.

Tammy Nadeau said they were presented with a six per cent wage increase over five years with no other financial incentives.

“It was two per cent the first year, which we know that year, in particular, the cost of living was seven per cent, and then for the next four years after that, it’s one per cent,” Nadeau said Monday outside Saint John Harbour MLA Arlene Dunn’s office in Saint John.

According to the union, that works out to an increase of around $1.24 per hour for most nursing home workers — or “less than a cost of a loaf of bread.”

Union officials said they are not about to back down as they fight for what they describe as “real” wage increases for their members, who have been without a contract since October.

It took nearly four years of negotiations and the threat of a strike before the last collective agreement was reached.

“We don’t want to be four more years bargaining. The members have had enough,” said Nadeau.

With the sector struggling to retain and recruit staff, Nadeau said the latest offer will not help the situation.

The union members were joined by Liberal MLA Robert Gauvin, a former Progressive Conservative who is now the opposition social development critic.

Speaking with reporters on Monday afternoon, Gauvin described the government’s wage offer as “insulting.”

“During COVID, these workers were their family. Family couldn’t go and visit them,” he said, speaking of residents in the province’s nursing homes.

“They were feeding them, being their friends, being their family, the only human contact, and that’s the thanks they get?”

Meanwhile, Nadeau said their members are upset with the Higgs government’s most recent offer.

Many have chosen to leave the province and work elsewhere, she said, exacerbating the staffing shortage.

“If we’re not back to the bargaining table with a better offer, members are prepared to come out and show their displeasure,” she said.


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