Collective bargaining talks between the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN) and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) have reached an impasse after seven months.
In a news release, SUN President Tracy Zambory said a key concern is SAHO’s attempt to significantly restrict the ability of registered nurses to exercise their professional judgment to ensure safe staffing levels when needed.
As it stands right now, only some registered nurses have a limited ability to call in additional nursing staff when deemed necessary. SAHO is proposing to restrict this even further and that is a concern for SUN.
The new release states the proposal by SAHO places registered nurses in a compromising position as it impedes their ability to address immediate and urgent patient care needs.
Both parties entered into a new collaborative, solutions-based bargaining approach to meet the needs of patients, SUN members, and the employer. The focus was on finding solutions to improve the delivery of health care, develop quality workplaces, and put patient safety at the forefront.
According to the news release, talks stalled when SAHO backed away from addressing the priorities that the parties identified, which included: 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 health care in the province.
Zambory said Saskatchewan’s registered nurses are left wondering whether those advising SAHO were ever truly committed to the bargaining process.
Saskatchewan’s registered nurses have been without a collective agreement for close to two years. The previous agreement expired on March 20, 2014. SUN and SAHO have been bargaining since July, 2015.
SUN represents 10,000 registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, registered nurse practitioners, and graduates in the province.