|The B.C. Nurses Union rally in Vancouver in this file photo. (ROB KRUYT/QMI Agency Files)
More than 32,000 B.C. nurses voted almost 85% to ratify a contract negotiated last month between the province and their union.
“This contract is a big win for safe patient care and safe staffing,” Debra McPherson, president of the B.C. Nurses’ Union, said in a statement Friday. “It will give nurses new tools to reduce heavy workloads and improve patient care by calling in nurses to replace those off sick or on vacation, improving nurses’ job security and hiring the equivalent of 2,125 more nurses.
“For the first time ever. health employers will be required to replace nurses who are off on leave from a scheduled shift, unless there are extenuating circumstances determined by the front-line nurse in charge and the manager," McPherson said. "The criteria for calling in more nurses will be the needs of patients, not budget concerns.”
The contract also provides an across the board hourly wage increase of three per cent beginning April 1, 2013.