UNA files application with Labour Relations Board seeking OK to represent Nurse Practitioners

Nurses’ union argues Alberta Labour Code ban on union membership by NPs violates Charter’s freedom of association guarantee

In no other Canadian jurisdiction are Nurse Practitioners precluded from organizing under the provincial labour code or from participating in collective bargaining.

Lawyers acting for the United Nurses of Alberta filed an application today with the Alberta Labour Relations Board seeking a determination that the union can represent Nurse Practitioners.

UNA’s application argues that portions of the Alberta Labour Code preventing Nurse Practitioners from being represented by a union violate the right to freedom of association guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The union also argues that since it holds a certificate with the ALRB for “all employees when employed in direct nursing care or nursing instruction” by Alberta Health Services, employees of AHS who are Nurse Practitioners doing direct nursing or nursing instruction are members of UNA’s bargaining unit.

UNA’s request for determination notes that in no other Canadian jurisdiction are Nurse Practitioners precluded from organizing under the provincial labour code or from participating in collective bargaining. The Alberta exclusion resulted from amendments to the Labour Code passed by the provincial Legislature in 2003.

UNA also argues it has a strong community of interest with Nurse Practitioners because of its long history of representing Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses, the similar educational requirements of RNs and NPs, the fact members of both medical professions must register with the same regulatory college, and because NPs must first be RNs.

UNA’s request for a determination arises from the concern that with union representation Nurse Practitioners can safely raise issues with AHS about client care.

AHS employs more than 300 NPs in hospitals, home living, facility living, supportive living, palliative care and as members of Emergency Community Urgent Response Teams.

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