TORONTO, Aug. 9 /CNW/ - A range of public health programs, from parental
support programs for vulnerable families and flu vaccine programs to mental
health and communicable diseases programs are threatened for residents of
Halton Region as its 120 public health registered nurses continue to work
without a new contract.
The public health registered nurses, members of Ontario Nurses'
Association (ONA) Local 1, have been without a contract since March, 2006. A
membership meeting held July 23 saw the rejection of the Region's "final
offer" by a significant majority of the registered nurses who provide services
in Oakville, Burlington, Milton, Georgetown and Acton. ONA remains hopeful
that a mediation session scheduled for August 20 will be successful in
reaching an agreement.
"No community wants to be without its public health nurses," notes ONA
President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN, "especially as we near the start of the
school year and flu season approaches. A strike is the last, last resort. But
our members need to be taken care of so they can continue to care for others.
Halton Region public health nurses continue to be paid significantly less than
those in neighbouring health units, and are seeking access to paid sick time
and other health benefits for part-time nurses, and fair hours of work for all
nurses that allow a healthy work-life balance. It's time to address these
inequities, as the nursing shortage worsens and recruitment and retention of
nurses becomes more difficult across the province."
Public health nurses care for Halton residents by providing health
education services for families, students and teachers. Travel health
counseling and immunization, sexual health clinics, injury prevention services
for youth, adults and seniors, mental health counseling, referrals and ongoing
support are all provided by these nurses. Other critical services include
outbreak protection and control for diseases such as tuberculosis, flu,
hepatitis, HIV and meningitis.
The legal strike/lock-out date for Halton Public Health nurses is
"Our nurses want a resolution to this situation," notes Haslam-Stroud.
"Halton Region's website says it is a 'values-based organization' that offers
competitive salaries and a commitment to work-life balance. It's time to apply
that philosophy to public health nurses - it's time to give them what they
need to do their jobs effectively for the benefit of this fast-growing
ONA is the union representing 53,000 front-line registered nurses and
allied health professionals working in Ontario hospitals, long-term care
facilities, public health, the community and industry.
For further information:
For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association, Sheree Bond, (416)
964-8833, ext. 2430, Cellular: (416) 986-8240