The Alberta Labour Relations Board hearing into United Nurses of Alberta’s application seeking a determination the union can represent Nurse Practitioners held its second hearing on April 8 to consider the question of whether Alberta’s legal ban on union representation for Nurse Practitioners is a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Board dealt only with written submissions during its half-day session.
Applicants with UNA in the application for determination are Nurse Practitioners Jessica Wakeford and Rochelle Young. Wakeford and Young, as well as UNA Labour Relations Director David Harrigan, testified before the Board at a hearing in late February.
UNA argues the portion of the Alberta Labour Relations Code preventing Nurse Practitioners from seeking union representation is a violation of the freedom of association provision of the Charter.
The Board will next consider UNA’s application and whether the Alberta Labour Relations Code is unconstitutional in that regard, and if it decides it is will rule on what the next steps should be to remedy the situation.
UNA 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 union membership 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. In addition, UNA represented Nurse Practitioners in Alberta before they were excluded from union membership under the Labour Code.
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.
UNA will update this page as soon as more information is available.
Follow the latest updates about UNA’s application to the Labour Relations Board regarding Nurse Practitioners.
Submissions and correspondence pertaining to UNA's application for determination
Submission by United Nurses of Alberta
Letter from Neumann Thompson law firm on behalf of deans of nursing
Letter from the ALRB regarding receipt of correspondence
Alberta Health Services response to UNA’s application
Letter from AHS to the ALRB regarding documents submitted as evidence (two documents)
Submission by the Health Sciences Association of Alberta
Submission by the Nurse Practitioners Association of Alberta
Submission by the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees