FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government has introduced legislation declaring employees of private nursing homes as ''essential'' - meaning only a small number could walk out in the event of a strike.
The move comes just a day after the Council of Nursing Home Unions filed a complaint with the Labour and Employment Board accusing the government of interfering in the collective bargaining process.
The minister of social development, Mary Schryer, says the legislation is intended to ensure the care of seniors in nursing homes during a strike, in the same way workers in hospitals are deemed essential.
Gordon Black of the Canadian Union of Public Employees says the government is being heavy-handed and the union has not been threatening strike action.
He says if the government wants to treat private-sector employees like government workers, it should make them public-sector employees.
The nursing home association has refused to ratify a new four-year contract because the union would not agree to a two-year wage freeze being demanded by the province.