Community Care Access Centre Employees Give ONA Overwhelming Strike Mandate

TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2011 /CNW/ - Over 3,000 Registered Nurses and allied health professionals of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) who work as Case Managers, Placement Coordinators, Nurse Practitioners and as other health professionals at 10 of Ontario's 14 Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) have given their negotiating team an overwhelming 95-per-cent strike mandate. These members have now entered the critical final days of bargaining and will be in mediation tomorrow. If the parties do not reach an agreement, these health professionals will be on strike on October 3.

ONA members help those in their communities navigate the health care system, ensuring their clients can access the right care at the right time and in the right place. They coordinate all heath care services in the community for more than nine million Ontarians. They oversee health services and home care for our frail elderly, those being discharged from hospital, and children requiring nursing care, speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy in homes and schools.

A strike would leave communities across the province with minimal access to health care services that these registered nurses, nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses, occupational and physiotherapists and social workers co-ordinate for the public.

"The last thing we want is to be forced into strike action. In fact, the last strike in this sector was more than 12 years ago," says ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "Nevertheless, if the employers' offer leaves us with no alternative, we will stand up for our right to a fair contract that properly values the important contribution of these professionals to health care."

A strike would result in an increase in wait times in hospital emergency rooms, a backlog of patients held in medical and surgical hospital beds. With no further admissions, wait lists for long-term care beds will increase as placement coordinators will not be available to support the elderly moving into long-term care beds. Children requiring services under both home and school programs would also experience extended waits.

Haslam-Stroud notes that issues of workload and professional responsibility, sick leave, wages and access to personal protective equipment should there be a pandemic are keeping the two sides from reaching an agreement.

"The merger of 42 CCACs to align with Ontario's 14 LHINs did not reduce the management or administration levels at CCACs as expected," she notes. "For example, at the North West CCAC, our members have seen a 27-per-cent increase in administration - and this does nothing to enhance the provision of the right care at the right time in the right place for community members."

Mediation is scheduled for September 28 and 29.

ONA is the union representing 57,000 front-line RNs and allied health professionals and more than 12,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario communities, hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, industry and clinics.

SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information:

  Ontario Nurses' Association
Sheree Bond     (416) 964-1979, ext. 2430; cell: (416) 986-8240
Ruth Featherstone    (416) 964-1979, ext. 2267



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