UNA and AHS renew northern locum program, raising pay premium from $6 to $25 per hour

United Nurses of Alberta and Alberta Health Services have reached a new agreement to improve the decade-old northern travel nursing agreement that was designed to ease staffing issues at rural sites in Northern Alberta.

The Letter of Understanding that has now been ratified by all UNA locals in AHS’s North Zone will see the locum premium paid to UNA nurses working temporarily in Northern Alberta rise from $6 per hour to $25 per hour.

In addition, nurses who accept assignments in rural parts of the region outside the cities of Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray will receive an additional $50 per day throughout their locum, whether or not they have a scheduled shift that day.

This temporary rural rate is paid in addition to the adjusted hourly temporary locum premium payment and any applicable subsistence and transportation payments.

The LOU took effect on November 1 and will expire on September 30, 2025.

The northern locum program first signed in 2012 focuses on finding nurses employed elsewhere by AHS to take short-term assignments of less than 12 months to help meet staffing needs in the North Zone.

This helps fill staffing shortages that have been chronic for years in the north as well as allowing regular and temporary nurses permanently employed in the zone to schedule their time off and vacation entitlements.

Travel nursing assignments – named after the term “locum tenens,” Latin for “temporary substitute” – enable Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses working elsewhere to pick a temporary assignment for a set period and be paid a salary premium and other additional benefits.

Participating nurses who are UNA members have the right to return to their previous jobs or casual status once their northern assignment ends.