Nunavut nurses get pre-Christmas bonus this year

Though it’s called a “labour market supplement,” and not a Christmas bonus, many Nunavut nurses will nevertheless get a nice little stocking stuffer just in time for Christmas this year.



IQALUIT— The Nunavut government is giving its nurses an early Christmas present in an effort to keep them on staff.

Pay bonuses of $3,000 to $5,000 are being offered to nurses working on indeterminate contracts as an incentive to keep them working in Nunavut. Newly hired nurses working on indefinite contracts are also getting bonuses.

“We are determined to improve health care for Nunavummiut and with this additional funding, we aim to recruit and keep more nurses to work in our communities,” Health Minister Ed Picco said.

Designed to increase Nunavut’s competitive edge when recruiting, and also to give employees an incentive to stay on, the incentives will amount to nearly one million dollars, a Nunavut government press release says.

The retention bonus paid to existing indefinite nursing staff rewards years of work. For example a nurse who has been working in Nunavut between five and seven years as of December would receive a $4,500 bonus, said Trish Smith, the manager of staff development for the Department of Health and Social Services.

But there is a stick that goes along with this carrot.

“We do expect that they stay with us for at least a year. If not then we would ask for the bonus back on a pro-rated basis,” Smith said. Nurses working on contracts for a defined term are not eligible for the bonus.

The bonus is a not a Christmas bonus, but a “labor market supplement,” said Smith.

“It’s certainly good that it can be paid prior to Christmas, but that wasn’t part of the plan,” she said.

“Labor market supplements are used when there is a short supply for a particular type of labor,” said Smith. She said competition among other provinces for nurses is fierce. In Nunavik nurses can earn bonuses of up to $17,000.

The idea of instituting the bonus came from a health care staff recruitment and retention committee set up Picco earlier this year. Called the Nunavut Iluarsaijiit Action Team, the committee has been charged with solving the shortage of nurses in Nunavut.

Smith, who chairs the committee, said the bonus is just one of many recommendations the committee has come up with.

The bonus along with a recently announced $1.26 million retroactive pay hike will put Nunavut’s nursing salaries among the highest in Canada Smith said.

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