CUPE is appalled by New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs’s disdain for nursing home workers and their Charter rights. On Wednesday, Higgs’s Conservative government passed Bill 17, which added more restrictions on basic bargaining rights for New Brunswick nursing home workers. Higgs previously threatened to call an election if the legislature did not pass the bill.

“This premier has no shame. This bill does nothing to fix the glaring violation of workers’ Charter rights in New Brunswick,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Higgs was willing to spend millions of dollars of public money on another election to get his way, rather than simply pay nursing home workers a fair wage. That isn’t just shameful - it’s a disgrace.”

“There is a crisis in New Brunswick nursing homes,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury. “Rather than fix the problems with recruitment and retention that are caused by extremely low pay, the premier chose to bury his head in the sand and attack workers instead.”

Despite their vital work, nursing home workers in New Brunswick are among the lowest-paid in the country, which is deepening the already critical levels of understaffing in the sector.

“If Mr. Higgs truly believes that nursing home workers provide an essential service, he should start to act accordingly, and give them the respect and the wage increases they deserve. But he doesn’t get to have it both ways,” Hancock continued.