News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

May 10, 2018


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Legislation Streamlines Bargaining Units Within Health System, Brings Manitoba In Line With Other Provinces: Goertzen

Legislation protecting the sustainability of front-line health-care services by streamlining bargaining units and simplifying labour negotiations within Manitoba’s health system has been proclaimed and a commissioner appointed to oversee a fair and consistent process, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today.

“With more than 180 different bargaining units and collective agreements, Manitoba’s health system has long been an outlier in Canada, with dozens of labour contracts operating under different rules, creating unfair situations where employees doing similar jobs have different terms of employment.  As a result, this has limited our ability to schedule staff to meet patient needs while respecting our employees’ rights to reasonable schedules,” said Goertzen.

“This legislation will lead to a more flexible health system, and improve the quality and consistency of patient care across Manitoba.”

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.

Goertzen said the process will bring Manitoba in line with other Canadian jurisdictions with more streamlined processes for labour negotiations.  The minister noted British Columbia has five bargaining units while Saskatchewan has 14.

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.

Goertzen also announced that 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 earlier today, Goertzen confirmed.  

The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act’s proclamation and appointment of a commissioner to lead the process are foundational steps in the ongoing transformation of Manitoba’s health system, which is designed to improve health-care delivery for Manitobans while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the system.

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