Judge to make decision on CUPE strike Monday

A judge has reserved her decision on whether nursing home workers in New Brunswick can strike.

Justice Paulette Garnett told the panel of lawyers for the province, New Brunswick Nursing Home Association, and nursing home union to not expect a ruling until Monday afternoon, mere hours before the order being challenged expires.

All parties were in court arguing whether to rescind or extend a 10-day order put in place last Saturday by a judge in Moncton that stops union members from striking.

“What’s important is to have that mandate in your back pocket when you’re sitting with the powers that be on the other side. Otherwise you’re not engaged in collective bargaining, you’re engaged in collective begging,” explained Joël Michaud, a lawyer representing CUPE.

The province is arguing the 4,100 nursing home workers should be deemed an essential service following a 2018 labour board decision that suggests otherwise. The New Brunswick government wants the stay extended until a judicial review can be conducted.

“It is in the public interest to ensure that legislation that’s subject to constitutional attack that such legislation gets to stay in place until such time as final determination of the legal issue,” explained Christian Michaud, a lawyer retained by the Government of New Brunswick.

The executive director of the New Brunswick Nursing Home Association was in the courtroom for the lengthy hearing and told reporters she hopes both sides can reach an agreement, and that she felt legal arguments went well.

“We just wanted to reiterate that everything that we’re doing is to just protect residents, that’s our key message,” explained Jodi Hall.

If the stay is granted, Joël Michaud asked the judge to imposing a two-week timeframe on the stay, as it could “give both sides the nudge needed” to get back to the bargaining table and work out a deal.”

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