Ontario Nurses' Association, Algoma Public Health working on new collective agreement
A total of 85 public health nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners at Algoma Public Health Unit began mandatory conciliation Friday with their employer as they seek to negotiate a new collective agreement.
The 85 Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) members have been without a contract since April 1 of this year.
"The work of our dedicated and skilled nurses is absolutely vital during the COVID-19 pandemic," ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, is quoted as saying in a news release.
"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."
In addition to pandemic work, McKenna said nurses provide clinical services to the approximately 119,000 residents in the District of Algoma (including Wawa, White River, Elliott Lake, Blind River, and Thessalon).
Services 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 and smoking cessation supports.
"The nurses who work at Algoma Public Health Unit are dedicated to ensuring the best health for their communities," McKenna said.
"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 the health unit.
"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," McKenna said.
"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."
ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care, public health, the community, clinics, and industry.
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