Public Health Nurses May be Forced to Strike: ONA members, Region of Waterloo Public Health at Mediation Monday

WATERLOO, ON, March 24, 2017 /CNW/ - Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) public health nurses working at the Region of Waterloo Public Health head to mediation on Monday, hoping to avoid being forced to withdraw services.

The 131 ONA members – including Public Health Nurses, Registered Nurses, Registered Practical Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Specialist Registered Nurses – have been seeking a new contract following the expiration of their previous contract last June 30.

"Our dedicated and highly educated members accepted a number of losses to benefits in their last contract," notes ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "And here we are again, with this employer demanding deeper cuts to their benefits that pose a threat to the health and well-being of the very people who work to keep the community healthy."

Region of Waterloo Public Health nurses work to ensure that the 575,000 residents of the Region of Waterloo remain healthy and well, providing chronic disease and injury prevention services in schools, workplaces and the community. They run smoking cessation programs and vaccination clinics, monitor for, investigate and control infectious disease outbreaks, and run sexual health clinics including counselling and health education for our youth.

In addition, the nurses provide blood-borne infection testing and monitoring for such diseases as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and B, harm reduction strategies including needle exchange programs that include naloxone training, dispensing and counselling. Other supports include pregnancy counselling, prenatal support, and support for high-risk families. They run breastfeeding clinics, partner with multiple community agencies and provide visits to new parents so the region's youngest members get a healthy start to life.

Failing resolution on March 27, the nurses may be forced on strike as early as March 29.

"Public health nurses are the foundation of our health care," says McKenna. "It's imperative that this employer step up and offer our nurses a fair contract without the demand that the very people who keep us healthy give up the benefits that help keep them healthy. Our nurses deserve dignity and respect from their employer and our patients want their nurses caring for them."

ONA is the union representing 64,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.            

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SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association

For further information: Ontario Nurses' Association: Sheree Bond, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430, cell: (416) 986-8240,; Melanie Levenson, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369, cell: (416) 801-8958,


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