Nurses ratify new provincial collective agreement

MEMBERS of the Nurses’ Bargaining Association (NBA) have successfully ratified a new three-year collective agreement with BC’s health employers, effective April 1, 2022, to March 31, 2025. In addition to the terms of the contract, nurses will now see the benefits of hundreds of millions of dollars in funding agreements reached between the NBA and the provincial government.   

In total, 40,526 BCNU members cast a ballot with 61% of NBA members voting in favour of the tentative agreement reached on March 31, 2023. The contract applies to nurses working in acute care, community, public health, long-term care, and other settings within the province’s health-care system.  

The agreement includes the following general wage increases for all employees:

  • Year 1: $0.25 / hr plus 3.24 per cent, retroactive to April 1, 2022
  • Year 2: 6.75%, retroactive to April 1, 2023
  • Year 3: 2% increase, plus a potential cost-of-living adjustment (to a maximum of 3%)

In addition to the general wage increase, the collective agreement includes a significant wage schedule redesign that provides meaningful wage gains including new increment steps at years 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 . There are also significant increases to shift premiums, on-call rates, responsibility pay and isolation travel allowance.   

“There are many incentives in this new agreement that will help retain the nurses in the system now and attract the nurses we need in the future,” said BCNU President Aman Grewal. “For too long, nurses have been providing patient care amidst a severe nurse shortage and heavy workloads. This agreement recognizes our members’ dedication and sacrifice and includes significant investments to recruit more nurses into the profession.  

The agreement also includes improvements in job flexibility and access to leaves, and investments in workplace health and safety. New contract language will also advance the principles of diversity, equity and inclusivity to ensure all BCNU members are welcome in their workplace. As well, there is a genuine commitment to truth and reconciliation, cultural safety and addressing Indigenous-specific racism in the health-care system.  

“This is a collective agreement that will make health care better for nurses and their patients , ” says BCNU interim CEO and lead negotiator, Jim Gould. “It improves nurses’ working conditions, demonstrates a greater respect for the value of this profession, and provides the right mix of incentives to retain those who have been working tirelessly to provide the kind of quality, safe care their patients deserve.  

The ratification of the collective agreement secures the following historic funding agreements reached between the NBA and provincial government:

  • $750 million dollars to support the implementation of minimum nurse-patient ratios ($200M, $250M and $300M ongoing), making BC the first province in Canada
  •  $100 million dollars to establish a nurse support fund and career laddering opportunities for LPNs to become RNs
  •  $108.6 million dollars in ongoing funding to support retention strategies that include, but are not limited to, mentorship and preceptorship incentives.

The NBA and HEABC reached this agreement on March 31 following months of negotiations that began in December 2022.   

BCNU’s bargaining unit consists of nurses from all health-care sectors, including community, long-term care, acute and public health.