Five nurses who work for the Nischawayasihk Personal Care Home in Nisichwayasihk Cree Nation at Nelson House went on strike May 11.
Sandi Mowat, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, says the strike is because of wages, saying these community nurses are being paid less than other nurses in Manitoba. “Our proposal was to have an agreement that would bring them up to the same pay scale as the other nurses in Manitoba.”
Nurses went to the bargaining table with the personal care home during the week of May 10, but talks broke down, which led to the strike, which Mowat is calling an equity issue.
The provincial government has agreed to fund their portion of what nurses are asking for, but the federal government has yet to commit any funds. “So our only recourse if we’re not going to get an agreement is to take a strike vote, which we did.”
The Nickel Belt News contacted the Nischawayasihk Personal Care Home, but workers wouldn’t comment without speaking first to Chief Marcel Moody, who wasn’t available for comment.
Mowat hopes a deal can be made, so nurses can get back to work. “We have to be clear that the nurses just want to work and provide care to the residents of that home. Certainly we just want to make sure they’re treated fairly.”
Michelle Perron of the media relations department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development says the government of Canada is committed to ensuring the health and safety of First Nation people and communities. “An essential services agreement is in place to ensure residents are receiving the necessary care and are not being relocated due to the labour dispute. The department has committed additional funding for the current fiscal year and is actively working with Nisichiwayasihk Cree Nation to address their concerns.”