Essential Services

Labour Update

On April 4, the province of Nova Scotia passed the Essential Health and Community Services Act. The Essential Health and Community Services Act requires unions and employers to have an essential services agreement in place before job action is taken. If the two sides cannot agree, they can ask the Labour Board to make a ruling. Until that essential services agreement is in place, no legal labour disruptions of any kind may occur.

This act was introduced as the province grew increasingly concerned with Nova Scotians’ health and safety during health care labour negotiations.  Nova Scotians shouldn’t have to worry about their care and their safety every time two parties can’t reach an agreement at the bargaining table. After the third health care labour disruption in a year, essential services legislation was introduced.

The new legislation maintains workers’ right to strike. It also ensures that, if there is a strike or a lockout in the health care sector, crucial services will not stop. This act creates a clear process that ensures, well in advance of labour action, that both sides must agree on how crucial healthcare services will be provided. Nova Scotians can rest assured that during labour negotiations they will still have access to services that protect their safety, physical and mental health.

With the passing of this act, all provinces in Canada now have essential services legislation in place.