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Wall Government Continues to Ignore Strong Public Support for Arbitration

Saskatoon (June 16, 2011) – The Wall government continues to ignore strong public support for the use of independent, binding arbitration to resolve the 27-month contract dispute between health care employers and Saskatchewan’s specialized health care professionals, Health Sciences Association President, Cathy Dickson said.

“A recent public opinion poll found 67% support for independent, binding arbitration to bring the current contract dispute to an end. People see the use of an independent expert to set the terms and conditions of a new contract as a reasonable alternative to ongoing strike action or dead- end negotiations. Why is the Wall government running and hiding from what the public so clearly wants?” Dickson asked.

“Perhaps the Wall government is counting on its unfair Essential Services legislation to wear down our resolve. Certainly this bad law stacks the deck against our health care professionals,” Dickson said.

“A prime example is the strike action we launched today in North Battleford, Melfort, Humboldt and Weyburn. With health regions constantly adding health professionals to the lists of workers deemed ‘essential’ under the law, and therefore unable to go on strike, we were left with as few as four Health Sciences members in Humboldt and five in Weyburn who were able to take strike action today,” Dickson noted.

“An already unfair law is being misused by health care employers to try to sabotage strike action. Sun Country health region (Weyburn) has deemed 92% of Health Sciences workers as ‘essential’, while the Saskatoon Health Region (Humboldt) has steadily increased its ‘essential’ list to now reach 70% of all Health Sciences professionals. The Prairie North health region (North Battleford) has deemed 53% of its Health Sciences professionals as ‘essential’, and the Kelsey Trail health region (Melfort) has steadily increased its ‘essential’ list from 44% to 55% in recent days in anticipation of strike action,” Dickson reported.

“No wonder Saskatchewan people agree strongly with our view that this ineffective, unfair law has hurt, not helped, contract negotiations in the Saskatchewan health care sector,” Dickson said.

“The government may hope this unfair law will break the resolve of health care professionals, but all its done has increased our determination to push for a fair and reasonable conclusion to this long and frustrating dispute,” Dickson said.

“Even before he was elected to government, Brad Wall wrote to the head of the nurses’ union in 2007, and agreed that any essential services law required some kind of independent, dispute resolution mechanism, such as arbitration. Now he needs to act on that promise and work with us to resolve this dispute through independent, interest-based, binding arbitration,” Dickson concluded.

For Further Information Contact:

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

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