The Yukon union is asking the government to rig bonus payments to nurses
Bonus payments for nurses employed by the territorial government are facing delays, according to the Yukon Employees Union (YEU), which says the issue could spark a major industrial dispute with the government.
In December, the union and the Yukon government struck a $6 million agreement to offer signing and retention bonuses to nurses facing statewide health care workforce shortages.
Union President Steve Geick told CBC News that the government’s failure to grant these bonuses promptly risks undermining workers’ rights as well as human rights.
He said about 12 nurses are not eligible for the awards because they are on maternity leave, which is protected under human rights law.
“It’s an instant bonus. Unless there’s another definition of ‘immediately’ that I’m not aware of, it doesn’t mean months and months later because you haven’t planned how this will be implemented.
“No one contacts us,” said Geick, referring to the government. “We asked, they said, ‘We’re going to look at this,’ and I can’t wait for that to happen because it’s hurting members on a daily basis.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said in an email that the majority of the bonuses were paid out on February 8, “and a further payout is planned for the next payment period. All outliers are treated on a case-by-case basis. case base.”
Claire Robson, Senior Communications Advisor, said the awards are designed to “recognize the important work nurses are doing here in the area, helping to manage turnover and high vacancy rates in community nursing.”
In October, Health Secretary Tracy-Anne McPhee said the vacancy rate in community nursing is over 40 percent.
Yukon Party says payments to doctors are also behind schedule
Brad Cathers, Yukon Party health critic, said there was a similar problem with doctors and delayed bill payments. Cathers says this is at odds with recruitment and retention efforts.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, about one-fifth of Yukoners do not have access to a regular health care provider.
“This problem has gotten much worse over the past two years as the government has failed to meet its obligation to process medical bills within 30 days and many of those claims, as we understand them, go unpaid for 90 days or more.” Cather said.
“No one wants to wait months for payment.”
Cathers is urging the government to update its doctor billing system to ensure quick payments.
Contract negotiations at an impasse
The issue of late bonuses for nurses comes at a time when the YEU and the territorial government are at odds over collective bargaining. Around 4,000 local authority employees represented by the union have been without a collective agreement for more than a year. Behind the impasse, the union explained, are money disputes.
“I don’t want to go on strike,” said Geick. “A strike does not serve many purposes for anyone, but it is the last thing we have as a negotiating tool.”
Asked if the delay in nurses’ bonuses could sow the seeds of a dispute, Geick said it was fueling members’ frustration with the government.
He added that strike information sessions would be held with members.