June 7, 2016
St. John’s, NL – The Association of Allied Health Professionals (AAHP) is confident the extension of their collective agreement for another year also helps lay the groundwork for more productive negotiations with Government and greater opportunities to strengthen our health care system and outcomes for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
Yesterday, Government confirmed it failed to meet a critical deadline that would trigger the collective bargaining process with the AAHP. This means AAHP’s current contract, set to expire on June 30, 2016, is now extended for another year. Government has since invited the AAHP to participate in discussions with them this year on collective bargaining issues. The AAHP will be seeking further clarity on the intent of these discussions before formally responding, but notes that in accordance with the terms of the current contract, neither party will be in a legal position to serve notice and initiate formal negotiations until mid to late Spring 2017.
“Our members were very pleased to hear the news yesterday that our contract has been extended for another year.” said Pamela Toope, AAHP’s Executive Director. “We have been out meeting with members over the past month. They are clearly very concerned about the next round of negotiations given the significant uncertainties in the current environment. They are most concerned about the potential negative impacts for people accessing the health care system.” She goes on further to say “While this extension provides increased stability for our members for the next year, it may also help ensure more productive outcomes during the negotiation process when it eventually begins, for our members and the health care system overall.”
Ms. Toope notes “It’s very easy to forget collective bargaining is about more than wages and financial benefits. The negotiation of better working conditions is equally important and often times these issues are ignored during the process even though they may have no monetary impacts on the employer’s budget. The top priority for our members is providing the best health care services possible to help make life better for individuals and families throughout the province. Unfortunately, over the past several years our health care professionals are increasingly challenged to do their jobs effectively.”
She goes on to say “Unilateral management and policy decisions and service delivery changes driven by budgets versus better patient outcomes have contributed at times to a disregard for the terms of our collective agreement and the views of frontline workers. These are some of the factors negatively impacting our members and the health care system. For example, our members are seeing escalating wait lists and waiting times for patients, greater workload demands associated with administrative tasks versus patient care, reactive versus proactive decision-making, and a far more stressful work environments than we have seen in past.”
“Collective bargaining should be a productive forum to address these types of concerns.” says Ms. Toope. “Had we entered into negotiations this year, we believe these types of issues would be lost given Government’s focus on budget cuts, potential concessions and the absence of a clear vision for a quality health care system in our province. We hope Government will take advantage of this additional time to further develop its vision and be willing to give equal priority during negotiations to discussions of broader issues like these that could improve the health care system and health outcomes.”
The AAHP has represented highly skilled allied health care professionals in the province’s public sector since 1975. Today, the AAHP represents a diverse membership of over 750 allied health care professionals in 29 different occupations, including for example, psychologists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, social workers, occupational therapists, respiratory therapists, speech language pathologies, audiologists, dietitians and medical flight specialists.
For More Information Contact:
Association of Allied Health Professionals