2000-2009

2000:

Classification Study Results – review completed. Negotiations, Classification, the Nursing Shortage, Recruitment and Retention Strategies, as well as Local and Provincial issues consumed a significant amount of time and energy.

2001:

PEINU re-affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Nurses’ Unions (CFNU) on January 1, 2001. Through this, the Union also became affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

This was another very challenging year and the Union was constantly inundated with Employer requests to let them try something different. It was evident that the nursing shortage and retention issues would not be resolved in the immediate future. It was imperative to move forward and ensure that nurses’ issues were carefully articulated and understood by the public with the onset of negotiations.

2002:

Many political lobbying initiatives and PR activities took place during this year. Talks broke down on May 24, 2002 and a second round of TV ads was launched about recruitment and retention. Nurses met with MLAs. An Ipsos-Reid poll conducted showed that Islanders clearly wanted the government to take better care of its nurses. The media followed the nurses’ struggle with negotiations and through conciliation on July 12th. Conciliation failed and the nurses were called back to the table. On July 18th a Tentative Agreement was reached. It was ratified on September 12, 2002 by 82% of the voting membership and more than 70% of the membership voted.

In September of this year, a Collective Agreement was signed. This marked a milestone in shift differential and weekend premiums. PEINU had the best conditions in the country on these two fronts.

2003:

There were 5 health regions and then two large acute care hospitals were pulled out to form one body – the Provincial Health Services Authority. There was a Ratification Vote on January 24th of this year on a letter of understanding containing provisions and amendments to the Collective Agreement required as a result of these changes. Southern Kings & Eastern Kings were merged. Reorganizations were plentiful around this time.

Linda Silas becomes President of CFNU, replacing Kathleen Connors.

2004:

The Prince County Hospital opened and this was a big deal for members.

Betty MacFadyen retired after 17 years. She had worked hard to establish professional working relationships and effective communication with employers, government and members. She survived cutbacks, rollbacks, regionalization and restructuring on more than one occasion. As PEINU’s Chief Negotiator, she helped to achieve a benchmark compensation package of greater than 22% in wages and benefits. Eleanor Gallant became the new Executive Director.

The PEINU website was created in order to better communicate with members, report on negotiation process, serve some of the Union’s PR needs, provide an on-line version of forms and provide the Constitution and the Collective Agreements electronically.

2005:

All Health Regions were disbanded and the Department of Health became the sole employer for all health sector employees. Government offered RNs incentives to leave the profession at a time when the PEINU Negotiating Team was seeking incentives to retain our experienced nurses. The Union felt they could not stay at the bargaining table when the goals were in opposition. Government was focused on budget deficits, downsizing and layoffs. Government cancelled any and all nursing recruitments, student sponsorships, sponsorship for refresher program, summer employment for BN students and the health care Futures program. Morale in the workplaces was disintegrating. A National Poll in June, 2005 indicated that the Canadian public saw ending the nursing shortage as a top priority. A telephone survey of members identified a number of major concerns that fall under retention, respect and Maritime parity.

2006:

Kendra Gunn became the new Executive Director in June, 2006.

The focus of negotiations was wages. Government’s primary focus was maintaining a specific wage increase in line with increases that had been occurring elsewhere in the public sector. A PR campaign was immediately launched by the Union, reminding government it was necessary for Island nurses to be paid wages comparable to their Atlantic counterparts in order to address the nursing shortage. On August 10, 2006, a tentative deal was struck that ensured PEINU members would receive wages on par with nurses in the Atlantic Region – 8.75% over 3 years from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2008. The Negotiating Team also recommended ratification of the agreement that would see improvements to wages, benefits and contract language, including maternity/parental leave insurance top-up, compensation for senior nurses who mentor new nurses in the form of educational credits, increased employer contributions to the education fund and the long awaited arrival of Nurse Practitioners as new positions within the bargaining unit.

2007:

The move to one employer (the Department of Health) put focus on the different practices in different worksites and geographic regions and forced the issue of provincialization of contract interpretations. Also, the five former Regional employers all operated under their own payroll systems. These payroll systems had to be amalgamated.

2008:

Barbara Brookins was appointed as interim President and was later acclaimed to this position.

The Clinical Information System (CIS) and formerly known as the “CERNER Project”, was designed to convert all health record keeping into electronic data, the project placed significant stress on many employees in the Department of Health. Many nurses indicated that their comfort level in operating the new system was very low. There was fear that this change in technology would have the unplanned effect of pushing those close to retirement out of the workforce sooner than they had planned.

According to a member survey, work life and workload issues were identified as the number one priority in need of change. 

2009:

Much discussion concerning “scope of practice” led to numerous meetings with employers and government. There was anxiety over clarification of roles as LPNS were now able to administer medications in long term care settings. Acute care settings saw unregulated health care workers (PCWs) providing assistance in areas such as positioning, feeding and bathing patients. Many concerns were raised over this. These changes were occurring with little or no input from the Union.

A new Collective Agreement was finalized on March 24, 2009. For the first time in the Union’s history, it proceeded to binding arbitration to settle issues that could not be resolved through collective bargaining or conciliation. The main reason it went to arbitration was a dispute over the pensionability of a new senior nurse retention incentive. PEINU wanted to be on par with all other nursing contracts in the country and have a provision that the wage adjustment be pensionable.