Legislation Streamlines Bargaining Units Within Health Care

Laura ManningNews

WINNIPEG – With dozens of of labour contracts operating under different rules, new legislation will protect the sustainability of health care services by simplifying labour negotiations within Manitoba’s health system. It is expected to create a more fair environment for employees who are currently doing similar jobs but operating under different terms of employment.

The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act requires the establishment of up to seven bargaining units for each health region and provincewide health employer. The bargaining units will be divided as follows:

  • nurses;
  • physicians;
  • medical residents;
  • physician assistants and clinical assistants;
  • professional/technical/paramedical;
  • facility support; and
  • community support.
  • The process will bring Manitoba in line with other Canadian jurisdictions with more streamlined processes for labour negotiations.

    Movement into each of the bargaining units will involve unionized employees voting by secret ballot in order to democratically establish the bargaining agent (union) that will represent each defined bargaining unit. The votes will take place at dates to be determined by a commissioner appointed to oversee the bargaining unit restructuring process.

    Robert Pruden has been appointed commissioner to oversee the implementation of this new structure. Pruden previously served as Manitoba’s director of labour relations and chief negotiator for 16 years. For the past 14 years, he has worked in the private sector across Canada, specializing in labour relations.

    Pruden’s responsibilities include:

  • determining the composition of each of the bargaining units in each of the province’s regional health authorities and provincewide employers;
  • conducting a secret ballot vote to determine the selection in each regional health authority and provincewide employer of the union that will act as the bargaining agent for each defined bargaining unit; and
  • designating the receiving collective agreement that will form the basis for negotiation within each defined bargaining unit for a revised collective agreement.
  • The act also instructs the commissioner to take into account the need to enhance operational efficiency, promote the integration of health-care service delivery, and develop consistency in terms and conditions of employment across the five regional health authorities and provincewide employers.

    “Respecting the rights of employees and organized labour while simplifying the collective bargaining process presents a great opportunity to help improve Manitoba’s health-care system,” said Pruden. “I look forward to the challenge.”

    Union officials were notified of the act’s proclamation during a meeting with provincial officials.