Public Health Nurses, Registered Nurses (RNs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) at Algoma Public Health Unit are entering into mandatory conciliation with their employer as they seek to negotiate a new collective agreement that respects the value of these nurses. The 85 Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members have been without a contract since April 1, 2021.
“The work of our dedicated and skilled nurses is absolutely vital during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “They have worked in case and contact management –including monitoring clients for any changes in condition – supported community partners such as workplaces and schools, and delivered vaccinations in a mass immunization program.
McKenna notes that, “In addition to their pandemic work, the clinical services our nurses provide to the approximately 119,000 residents in the District of Algoma (including Wawa, White River, Elliott Lake, Blind River, and Thessalon) are vital to the community. These include Healthy Babies/Healthy Children visits, lactation consultation services, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, HIV/AIDS rapid testing, affordable birth control, infection control of communicable diseases, immunization clinics, smoking cessation supports, and more.
“The nurses who work at Algoma Public Health Unit are dedicated to ensuring the best health for their communities,” says McKenna. “From pandemic response to prenatal support for mothers and support for families, youth services, seniors’ services, control and treatment of infectious diseases, their care and knowledge continues to be there for people whenever they need it.”
To date, ONA has had six days of negotiations with this employer. The two sides will begin conciliation on September 17, 2021.
“Nurses have been through a tremendous amount of ongoing change to their working conditions during the deadly global pandemic, leading to increasing amounts of stress, exhaustion and burnout,” says McKenna. “We expect the employer to come prepared to offer a fair contract so nurses can continue to deliver excellent services to the community. ONA members always prefer to reach a negotiated settlement, and we encourage this employer to not force nurses to strike.”