12/15/2014 02:30 EST | Updated 02/14/2015 05:59 EST

Nova Scotia's health minister extends arbitration deadline for health unions

HALIFAX - The arbitrator dealing with the reduction of health care bargaining units in Nova Scotia has been given more time to render his decision.

Health Minister Leo Glavine says the deadline for the arbitration process overseen by James Dorsey has been extended from Jan. 1 to Jan. 19.

Glavine says he gave the extension at Dorsey's request and no further hearing dates are scheduled.

The Health Authorities Act passed this fall merges the number of health districts from 10 to two by April 1.

It also creates an arbitration process to reduce the number of bargaining units for about 24,000 health workers from 50 to four.

Dorsey recently completed hearings during which public sector unions argued the law is unconstitutional and breaks charter rights that guarantee the right to association.

The government has said the legislation ensures that health care is sustainable and it wants uniformity in the representation of nurses, technologists, administrative and support workers.