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News brief: New collective agreement will allow health care workers to keep up with inflation, more or less

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KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Nova Scotia’s health care workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new collective agreement that includes annual wage increases into 2023 and contract language improvements.

The new contract provides for a 5.5% wage increase for all pay grades (1.5% effective Nov. 1st, 2020, 1.5% effective Nov. 1st, 2021, 1.5% effective Nov. 1st, 2022, and 1% effective the final day of the agreement, Oct. 31st, 2023, a news release issued by the three affected unions reports.

In addition, acute care paramedics’ rates of pay will be matched to those of IUOE retroactive to Nov. 1st, 2020, and Care Team Assistants (CTAs) will receive additional raises amounting to 2% on date of ratification and 3% on June 1st, 2022.

Roughly 7,500 workers, members of CUPE, Unifor and the NSGEU, are affected by the new deal.

Inflation rates must always be considered to determine what the increases amount to in terms of real buying power. What matters is not the amount you earn, but the purchasing power it provides. 

Increase in salaryEstimated inflation
Nov. 1, 20201.5%0.72%
Nov. 1, 20211.5%1.69%
Nov. 1, 20221.5%2.0%
Oct. 31, 2023*1.0%2.25%
Note, October 3, 2023 is the final date of the contract, and unions may well negotiate an additional increase at that time.

When the Statistics Canada estimated inflation rates over the period are taken into account, with the exception of CTAs, workers will be marginally less well off at the end of the contract. 

For instance, a worker earning $50,000 prior to the signing of the new collective agreement will bring home $52,807 in 2023. To keep up with the estimated cumulative rate of inflation over that period that same imaginary person should be earning $53,410.

See also: Larry Haiven: Raising expectations and raising hell – The teachers’ agreement has lessons for all of us

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