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Labour Board application to reclassify LPNs will almost certainly fail

The Alberta Labour Relations Board should dismiss a recent application to reclassify LPNs

May 31, 2023

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On April 25, 2023, five Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) sent an application to Alberta’s Labour Relations Board. In this application, the five LPNs petitioned the Board to change the AHS and Covenant Health bargaining unit structures so that LPNs would be classified as providing Direct Nursing Care. This change would mean the LPNs would no longer be included in AUPE’s Auxiliary Nursing Care units and instead be included in bargaining units with Registered Nurses. These LPNs believe this change may increase their pay, level of recognition and morale for the work they do.  

Restructuring our health care system in this way would not fix workplace issues. It would also not make LPN wages go up. The maximum wage rates for LPNs in Alberta are higher than in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, provinces where LPNs belong to the same bargaining units as Registered Nurses.  

The application itself is also very likely to fail for many reasons. The Labour Board, in response to a similar application in 2009, ruled it could not take the action sought by the LPNs here. On top of that, the LPNs are asking the Board to find that LPNs perform Direct Nursing Care based on factors the Board has previously refused to rely on. Finally, other unions have applied for LPNs to move into Direct Nursing Care many times in the last 20 years and the Labour Board has consistently denied these applications.  

AUPE legal counsel has responded to the application. The time and resources we commit to respond to the application, unfortunately, takes attention and resources away from the efforts in supporting LPNs through essential processes like negotiating improved contracts through collective bargaining. We hope to soon continue focusing on preparing for critical rounds of upcoming bargaining.  

AUPE believes in and advocates for health care employers recognizing and respecting their workforce and proudly represents these professionals. We understand the workers’ frustration and are committed to continuing to fight for the LPNs we represent and all workers in their fight for fair wages and improved working conditions.  

The full response from AUPE legal counsel Pat Nugent is attached below. 

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