House of Assembly

Provincial budget to be released March 23 ahead of federal budget March 28

The House of Assembly reopens for the spring sitting on Monday. As NTV’s Ben Cleary reports, the provincial budget will be presented March 23, before the federal budget on March 28.

Liberals raise concerns about PC MHA’s absence from district to work in Alberta

Members of the provincial Liberal party are raising questions about the absence of a PC MHA in central Newfoundland. Chris Tibbs has been working as a paramedic in Alberta for the past several months. NTV’s Colleen Lewis reports.

Private ambulance workers back on job after essential services bill signed into law

Private ambulance workers are back on the job after new legislation declaring them an essential service was signed into law Tuesday. But the union says an essential services agreement with Fewer’s still likely won’t happen without direction from the Labour Relations Board. NTV’s David Salter reports.

No regrets from NDP for delaying debate, as Jim Dinn says government should have acted sooner

The NDP caucus was on the hotseat Monday after delaying the start of debate on an essential services bill for striking ambulance workers. But party leader Jim Dinn has no regrets, and says the whole situation could have been avoided if government had acted sooner. NTV’s Marykate O’Neill reports.

House of Assembly passes bill to make private ambulances essential services

The House of Assembly has passed legislation to classify private ambulances as essential services.

The final vote to approve the Essential Ambulance Services Act came after 9 p.m. Monday with support from all parties. The NDP initially would not allow the bill to move straight to debate this morning, but the caucus eventually gave consent to proceed after the government allowed more time to review the bill and hold a Question Period.

The bill must still must receive Royal Assent, which is expected Tuesday. Once it becomes law, more than 100 striking employees with Fewer’s ambulance will have to return to work and negotiate an essential services agreement with the employer. Once that happens, the strike can resume and the contract dispute can go to binding arbitration.

Employer rejects partial return to work as House debates essential worker legislation for private ambulances

It was a day of twists and turns Monday as the House of Assembly reconvened for an emergency debate on the three-day private ambulance strike. First, the NDP delayed the debate. Then, the striking ambulance workers offered a partial return to work, but their employer refused. NTV’s Ben Cleary reports.

MHAs returning to House early to debate making private ambulances essential

The provincial government has asked for an emergency debate in the House of Assembly to make private ambulance workers essential. MHAs will return to their seats Monday morning.

The news came just a day after more than 100 first responders took to the picket line. NTV’s Ben Cleary reports.

House of Assembly to hold emergency debate Monday on private ambulance strike

Premier Andrew Furey has asked for the House of Assembly to reconvene Monday to hold an emergency debate on the private ambulance strike affecting rural Newfoundland communities.

The House will debate the Essential Ambulance Services Act. If passed, the act will make private ambulance services essential. Striking members of Teamsters Local 855 would have to return to work until an essential services agreement is in place, at which point the labour action could resume.

More than 100 private ambulance workers in rural Newfoundland communities escalated their strike by walking off the job Friday. Teamsters Local 855 leader Hubert Dawe says it came after a hostile act by an employer against a union member. The companies owned by Bob Fewer cover areas from Fogo Island on the northeast coast to Trepassey on the southern shore of the Avalon to Stephenville on the west coast.

The Speaker’s Office says the House will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday.

The legislation has not been made public yet, but the provincial government provided background information in a news release:

The Essential Ambulance Services Act

The Essential Ambulance Services Act will allow the employer and employees to determine the terms of the essential ambulance services agreement, and will allow them to engage with the Labour Relations Board when necessary ⁠— including authorizing the Board to refer a matter to binding arbitration to protect the employees’ meaningful right to a strike and the employers’ meaningful right to a lockout. When passed, the Act will require the union members to return to work until an essential services agreement is established, at which point labour action may resume. 

To date, only ambulance services provided publicly, through the Regional Health Authorities, fall under such legislation. Paramedics employed by private ambulance service operators fall under the Labour Relations Act and have thus far not been deemed essential. 

Long-standing lawsuits stemming from House of Assembly misconduct allegations dismissed

Some long-standing lawsuits stemming from allegations of misconduct in the House of Assembly in 2018 have been dismissed on the grounds of parliamentary privilege. Eddie Joyce and Dale Kirby had sued a number of fellow MHAs in the wake of the allegations.

Province launches review of statutory offices of the House after ongoing drama

The ongoing drama involving Elections N.L. and the Citizens’ Representative has led to yet another review. This time, the province has appointed a retired judge to review most of the statutory offices that report to the House of Assembly. NTV’s Rosie Mullaley reports.

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