The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union says talks with the employer on Monday broke off over the issue of nurse to patient ratios, one of the union's key demands.
Union president Joan Jessome says the nurses are adamant about improving ratios to improve patient safety.
A strike vote held in February saw nurses vote 90 per cent in favour of walking off the job to back their contract demands.
Union spokeswoman Holly Fraughton says the nurses will be in a legal strike position 14 days after the conciliator files his report.
Local 97 of the union represents 2,600 registered nurses who work at health facilities in the Halifax area.