A discussion paper on protecting Nova Scotians during labour disputes in the health care and related sectors was released today, June 19, by the Department of Environment and Labour. “On May 15, Premier Rodney MacDonald asked the Department of Environment and Labour to engage in a dialogue with Nova Scotians and stakeholders from acute-care facilities, long-term-care facilities, homes for special care and ambulance services before drafting legislation,” said Environment and Labour Minister Mark Parent. “As part of that process we have now released a discussion paper on the topic and we look forward to hearing from many Nova Scotians and reporting back on what we heard.” He said the government wants to ensure that Nova Scotians have uninterrupted access to health care while preserving the right of unions and management to participate in fair and effective collective bargaining. Mr. Parent said the government’s preferred option is a binding-arbitration system, where an independent third party settles disputes when collective bargaining has reached an impasse. “However, the premier has stressed from the beginning that we are open to compelling alternatives,” Mr. Parent said. “Perhaps this discussion paper is the beginning of a dialogue that will produce a made-in-Nova Scotia approach.” The document is available on the department’s website at www.gov.ns.ca/enla/unionworkplaces , or by phone at 902-424-5300. Respondents are asked to send in comments by July 20.