1987-1989

1987:

On June 25, 1987, the Committee bid farewell to Christine Kavanagh, who was instrumental in shaping the union into the strong organization it had become. She helped achieve many fundamental improvements in benefits and working conditions.

Nursing school diploma programs were closing and the university Baccalaureate program was becoming the standard.

On September 7, 1987, after years of lobbying, the Labour Act of Prince Edward Island was amended to include Registered Nurses. With the amendment, bargaining rights were secured under the Labour Act and the PEI Nurses’ Union had formally evolved from an organization structured as a committee of the Association of Nurses of PEI (PCBC) to a fully autonomous union and the recognized bargaining agent. This change would provide greater autonomy, certain advantages to nurses in the collective bargaining process and better services to its 530 members. The Constitution of the Union was rewritten and a more democratic structure emerged. PEI was the last province in Canada to establish a Nurses Union.

There was lots of talk surrounding Pay Equity and a brief stating the Union’s continuing support of the concept was presented by Betty MacFadyen, the first Executive Director of the Union, to the Special Committee on Legislative Proposals on October 9, 1987.

Sandra Gordon, Head Nurse of the Ambulatory Care Unit at Kings County Memorial Hospital, was appointed to the Provincial Occupational Health and Safety Committee. Rebecca Gosbee, Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital was appointed to the Provincial AIDS Advisory Committee. Betty MacFadyen was appointed to the Labour Relations Board. These appointments were an indication that the government was beginning to give nurses an opportunity to participate and express their concerns in matters important to them.

Meetings were held in December to discuss the possibility of moving from office space at 92 Queen Street shared with the International Union of Operating Engineers to a new building to be constructed by IUOE.

 1988:

The Union moved to Kensington Court in January (later known as Patterson Drive) where they rented office space from IOUE. The space was known as the “Kensington Court Labour Centre”.

A new Collective Agreement was signed on June 2, 1988 with Addiction Services. A tentative agreement reached on June 30th with the General Hospitals and School of Nursing was rejected by the membership. Talks continued with the assistance of a conciliator over the next several months.

The first AGM was held on October 4, 1988 at the Charlottetown Hotel. The primary focus of activity was negotiations.

1989:

The Souris Hospital and Community Health Centre was officially opened on January 14, 1989. The six million dollar project employed 22 RNs on a full-time, part-time and casual basis.

A Collective Agreement, ratified by 58% of the membership in the General Hospitals and School of Nursing, was signed on February 23, 1989. Staff shortages, salaries that fail to recognize the value of the job, poor working conditions, lack of respect and powerlessness in the decision making process were issues of primary concern to the membership addressed in the Agreement.

Union leaders began meeting with representatives from the PEI School of Nursing to discuss the eventual school closure.

In May of this year, the Union was in initial discussions with nurses at Sacred Heart Home. The nurses there had approached the Union about joining.

President, Sandra MacLean was appointed to the Industrial Relations Council of PEI in late Spring of this year. The first major undertaking was a review of the Labour Act. Maria Ward, a PEINU member, was elected as the National Federation of Nurses’ Union (NFNU and now CFNU) Vice-President at the Biennium Convention in Edmonton.

Numerous meetings were held with government departments over the summer months to discuss concerns. Some of the issues included quality of work life and quality of patient care, ongoing education for nurses, the decline in the nursing profession as a desirable career, and improvements needed to maintain the quality of the Island’s health care system.

Membership in 1989 consisted of 700 RNs in 9 Locals including 7 general hospitals, the PEI School of Nursing and the Addiction Services units.

A Nursing Forum held on October 13th and 14th was a result of ongoing meetings with representatives from the Hospital and Health Services Commission, the Association of Nurses of PEI and the PEI Nurses’ Union. It included nurses from acute care, public health, home care, extended care and nursing education. They met regularly to discuss issues of concern to nurses. The group determined that professional nurses should be the ones to articulate their concerns. As a result, a Steering Committee was established to plan the Nursing Forum.