Finance minister Travis Toews said Tuesday evening Alberta nurses make 5.6 per cent more on average that in comparative provinces and this costs Alberta about $141 million per year. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Toews comments on ongoing negotiations with United Nurses of Alberta

Minister of Treasury Board and Finance Travis Toews says he’s “pleased” Alberta Health Services is making an individual application to Mediation Services, so it and the United Nurses of Alberta can begin an informal application.

Toews said the UNA bargaining committee “rejected a proposed joint application” for informal mediation last week.

“Instead of letting negotiations stall, AHS is actively working towards a new collective agreement that meets the needs of all Albertans, and will bring long-term labour stability to the health care system,” he said.

“Informal mediation is a critical part of the negotiations process. Seven of the last eight collective agreements between AHS and UNA – including the agreement in 2017 – were reached in mediation.”

Toews said the government remains confident this round of informal mediation will be “just as productive” and will allow the two parties to work towards a deal.

“I urge both parties to continue to work together in good faith as they explore settlement options that respect the work of Alberta’s nurses and the financial pressures our province is facing,” he said.

UNA said Thursday its bargaining committee indicated to AHS negotiators they were free to apply for informal mediation if they wished and UNA would not object or view it as a provocation in negotiations.

“AHS chose not to do so,” said the UNA in a statement.

Last month AHS proposed a three per cent wage rollback for nurses during contract negotiations with the union that represents about 30,000 public-sector nurses.

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