B.C. nurses approve new collective agreement with pay increase, workload changes 

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VICTORIA — Nurses in British Columbia will get a two per cent annual wage increase in a new three-year collective agreement.

Details of the deal between the Nurses' Bargaining Association and the Health Employers' Association of B.C. also include wage premiums if employers don't meet staffing levels they have agreed to.

Starting on April 1, 2020, nurses will receive an additional $5 an hour if they are working short on a unit, department or program with 10 or fewer scheduled nurses.

There are other premiums as well for nurses who work in units that are understaffed and for those who agree to work a shift on short notice.

The agreement takes effect April 1 and expires March 31, 2022.

The BC Nurses' Union says 54 per cent of the more than 21,000 ballots cast in a ratification vote supported the agreement, which was reached in November.

"I believe we have negotiated an innovative contract that will make a positive impact on the working lives of our members and the patients in their care," union president Christine Sorensen said in a statement on Friday. "However, nurses have sent a clear message to the government that they are skeptical real change will come."

The union says a provincewide survey in 2017 showed staffing and workload were the biggest concerns for nurses in contract negotiations.

"Unsustainable workload coupled with a systemic nursing shortage has a direct impact on a nurse's ability to provide safe patient care. Our members have spoken," Sorensen said. "While more needs to be done, this contract is a step in the right direction."

The Nurses' Bargaining Association represents about 44,000 registered, psychiatric and licensed practical nurses in B.C.

The agreement also provides community nurses with improved mileage expenses.

As well, nurses will be paid for previously unpaid work at the ends of their shifts when they provide information to those replacing them.

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