Bonuses ‘aren’t off the table’ at Hay River health authority


The boss of Hay River’s health authority says work will take place to ensure staff don’t miss out on retention bonuses being offered in other NWT communities.

Last week, the NWT government and Union of Northern Workers reached a deal allowing a “labour market supplement” of $5,000 to $7,000 to be paid to some nurses, midwives and lab techs.

Staff in almost all of the territory’s communities are eligible to receive those payments this month and again in October 2023 if they remain in an eligible position. New hires in those communities get the same bonuses.

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But Hay River’s health authority is governed by a different collective agreement, meaning none of the bonuses apply to the town’s healthcare workers – a circumstance not publicized by either the GNWT or the union.

Questioned about Hay River’s workers last week, union president Gayla Thunstrom said there was “nothing preventing the employer from offering to discuss a similar labour market supplement at any point in time” – but Thunstrom did note that the Hay River health authority, or HRHSSA, and the union are currently negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement.

In an email to Cabin Radio late last week, Hay River health authority chief executive Erin Griffiths said work would take place to reach a deal.

“We have to negotiate things like labour market supplements separately. The HRHSSA is not able to alter the terms and conditions of employment affecting its unionized employees without following the proper processes and working with the union, particularly because we are currently engaged in collective bargaining,” Griffiths wrote.

“This doesn’t mean that the labour market supplement is off the table for the HRHSSA. This simply means that in order for a labour market supplement to apply to HRHSSA employees, the union and the HRHSSA have to enter into a separate agreement from the agreement that has already been made between the union and the GNWT.

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“HRHSSA is committed to recruitment and retention issues, and we will be working to ensure that the compensation and supplements we offer to our employees are aligned with those offered by the other health authorities in the Northwest Territories.”

Rocky Simpson, the Hay River South MLA, said he may raise the issue in the legislature when MLAs reconvene for their fall sitting later this week.

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“My expectation is that those benefits provided to NTHSSA will also be provided to HRHSSA employees,” Simpson wrote, using the initialisms for the NWT and Hay River health authorities.

“I will be advocating for those at HRHSSA to ensure they receive the labour marker supplement.”