Bargaining for Ontario hospital nurses enters mediation

TORONTO — The Ontario Nurses' Association is starting mediation today with the Ontario Hospital Association in what the nurses call a "last-ditch effort" to reach a negotiated settlement.

The nurses' union started bargaining with the hospitals in late January and if no deal is reached through mediation, it will go to an arbitrator in early May.

Bernie Robinson, the ONA's interim president, says the union has been unable to reach a negotiated settlement with the hospital association since 2011.

This will be the first contract for the nurses since being subject for three years to a wage restraint law known as Bill 124, which capped increases at one per cent a year.

The ONA has not said how much it is seeking for wages, but Robinson has said it's safe to say it's "far more" than the past contract.

An Ontario court found Bill 124 unconstitutional late last year, but the government has filed a notice of intent to appeal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2023.

The Canadian Press