Dear Editor

The editors of The Chronicle Herald calls this past legislative session as it sees it, giving good marks to the NDP, saying:

Graham Steele has the deficit falling ahead of the four-year plan. He’s kept a lid on spending, with some leeway where needed, like home and nursing care, emergency centres, mental health and drug coverage. There’s enough progress to cut small business taxes next year. To cement the idea of more to come, the NDP legislated a two-stage rollback, in 2014 and 2015, of the unpopular hike in the HST.

The Herald editors understand the simple cost-benefit equation of the $25 billion ship-building contract. They also value the investments in forestry, investments that support an essential industry in rural Nova Scotia and save workers’ jobs. We agree. Where we disagree is on the Herald’s notion that health care workers don’t have the right to negotiate.

The problem with the argument is that making strikes illegal doesn’t get rid of strikes. Indeed, it often leads to wild-catting, e.g Alberta (four times recently). When you strip workers of their rights, negotiations become impossible and strikes, illegal or not, happen anyway. As seen recently in Saskatchewan, legislating away strikes simply leads to expensive court battles where the government loses (the SK court struck down essential services legislation, saying that while the right to strike can be restricted, the legislation effectively took away employees’ right to strike, against their constitutional right).

It’s ironic, of course, to point out that such a scenario (where “tough” governments make strikes “illegal,” but they occur anyway) is pretty much the worst possible one for patients. No preparation. No planning. No contingencies. Total chaos. 

The solution? Bargain in good faith. Negotiate.