UNA members overwhelmingly ratify new Provincial Collective Agreement

For immediate release: Thursday, January 27, 2022

UNA members overwhelmingly ratify new Provincial Collective Agreement

Members of United Nurses of Alberta have overwhelmingly ratified a new collective agreement with Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health and two smaller employers.

“The Bargaining Committee felt strongly the Mediator’s recommendation issued on December 21 was a fair deal that will benefit our members and also fair to the people of Alberta,” said UNA President Heather Smith this morning. “I am gratified that the members agreed with the bargaining committee’s recommendation and voted by 87 per cent to ratify this agreement.”

The ratification vote for the new contract, formally known as the Provincial Collective Agreement, was conducted using a secure Internet voting application throughout Tuesday and Wednesday to prevent spread among members of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus. Results were calculated this morning.

The ratification by the members of 130 affected UNA locals, whose members make up the bulk of the union’s more than 30,000 Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses, brings to an end one of the most prolonged and arduous negotiations in the provincial nursing union’s 44-year history.

The new agreement, which runs from April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2024, includes:

  • 4.25-per-cent pay increases over the life of the agreement. Alberta nurses will remain the highest paid in Canada.
  • Conversion of current semi-annual lump-sum payments to the wage grid.
  • A one-time lump sum payment of 1 per cent for 2021 in recognition of nurses’ contributions during the pandemic.
  • Enhanced psychological and mental health supports.
  • Creation of a union-employer provincial workload advisory committee.
  • Implementation of a Rural Capacity Investment Fund, which will allocate $5 million a year to recruitment and retention strategies in rural and remote areas of the province, and $2.5 million a year for relocation assistance.

Negotiations began in early 2020 with AHS negotiators demanding wage cuts and many rollbacks to the collective agreement.

“Alberta Health Services’ willingness to move away from its initial demands for wage cuts and to drop its efforts to impose more than 200 rollbacks made this agreement possible,” said UNA Labour Relations Director David Harrigan, who led the union bargaining committee.

In addition to RNs and RPNs employed by AHS and Covenant Health, the agreement covers those employed by Lamont Health Care, and The Bethany Group (Camrose).