Alberta nurses will be the highest paid in Canada, approving a new three-year contract that fosters a 15 per cent wage increase, cash bonuses and new rules for overtime.
Senior nurses will earn a top hourly wage of $43.40 in the final year of the deal while new graduates have been handed the highest start rate for any nurse in the country.
A vast majority of the province’s nurses, 82 per cent, voted in favour of the agreement while nurses with at least 20 years of experience will receive an additional two per cent increase in salary as an incentive against early retirement.
The head of the nurses’ union said the new agreement may help reverse a growing shortage of nurses that could cripple the health-care system.
“What we have with this new agreement is some new tools to add to our tool kit,” said Heather Smith, president of the United Nurses of Alberta. “We’re hoping this will create more stability and predictability, especially in terms of the workforce and, hopefully, turn around morale.”
At least 10,000 additional nurses will be needed in the next five years, she said, taking into consideration current staff vacancies, looming retirements, and expansions needed from new hospitals and care facilities.