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Flawed Law Responsible for Longest Health Care Strike in Saskatchewan History

Prince Albert (June 20, 2011) – The Wall government’s flawed Essential Services law is directly responsible for what has become the longest health care strike in Saskatchewan history, Health Sciences President Cathy Dickson charged today.

“This unfair, unbalanced legislation has encouraged health care employers to drag out contract negotiations unnecessarily, hoping health care workers will simply give in, because our ability to take strike action is so limited, and because the law does not enforce an independent, dispute resolution mechanism,” Dickson told members of the union on the picket line in Prince Albert.

“In the case of the specialized health care professionals represented by Health Sciences, frustration has boiled over into what is now the seventh week of rotating strikes. This is the longest health care strike action in Saskatchewan history, and the Wall government’s flawed Essential Services law is the main reason,” Dickson said.

“Saskatchewan people know that this bad law has resulted in deadlocked contract negotiations, and health care strike action that has dragged on like no other period in our history. No wonder our recent provincial public opinion poll found that people feel the Essential Services law has hurt, not helped, health care contract negotiations by a margin of almost two to one,” Dickson noted.

“With health care strikes now entering their seventh week, Saskatchewan people are getting fed up with the inability of the Wall government and SAHO to either bargain in good faith or agree to send our contract dispute to an independent third party for resolution,” Dickson added.

“Unless the Wall government is going to order SAHO back to the bargaining table to negotiate in good faith, we renew our demand that the government and health care employers agree to send our contract dispute to independent, interest-based, binding arbitration. This alternative would see all strike action end immediately, as all sides would agree to the appointment of an independent expert, who would review the contract positions of SAHO and Health Sciences, and the set the terms and conditions of a new contract,” Dickson explained.

“Our recent provincial public opinion poll found 67% supported independent, binding arbitration as the best alternative to end the current contract dispute involving Health Sciences and SAHO. We support this approach. The public supports this approach. Why do the Wall government and SAHO continue to ignore the public, by rejecting this approach,” Dickson asked.

Health Sciences represents more than three-thousand specialized health care professionals from more than thirty health care professions. Members include: Emergency care workers like Paramedics; Acute care workers like Hospital Pharmacists, Perfusionists, and Respiratory Therapists; Rehab professionals like Physical Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists; and Community-based professionals like Public Health Inspectors, Psychologists and Social Workers.

For Further Information Contact:

Cathy Dickson (President, Health Sciences)
1-306-361-5655

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