HALDIMAND and NORFOLK, ON, Sept. 22, 2015 /CNW/ - Registered nurses (RNs) and social workers are heading to conciliation bargaining on October 7 in an effort to negotiate a new contract and avoid a strike that would force the withdrawal of critical mental health services to their almost 850 patients in their homes.
The 23 RNs and social workers -- members of the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) -- provide community-based, client-focused services for those suffering from mental health issues in Haldimand Norfolk.
"Our dedicated registered nurses and social workers are there for their patients 24 hours a day, providing crisis support including face-to-face assessments and short-term follow-up crisis counseling for those who need it," notes ONA President Linda Haslam-Stroud, RN. "The group offers specialized geriatric services for our elderly patients, with treatment, care and support for older adults and their families who face mental health issues combined with age-related difficulties. These health-care providers deserve respect from their employer and the very last thing they want to do is to be forced out on strike by this employer."
ONA members working for CAMHS are at an impasse in negotiations. The last contract expired on March 31, 2015. Poor wages and working conditions, such as substandard pregnancy and parental leave compared with those paid in other parts of the province, have resulted in difficulty attracting and retaining staff. Those currently with CAMHS feel undervalued and morale is very low. In addition, staff concerns continue to rise as patients face long wait times for programs in Haldimand and Norfolk due to chronic understaffing.
"Our RNs and social workers are doing their best to avoid having to take strike action, which would hurt their patients and this community," said Haslam-Stroud. "We call on this employer to step up to the plate and negotiate a contract that recognizes the excellence our members bring to their jobs each and every day."
ONA is the union representing 60,000 front-line registered nurses and allied health professionals as well as more than 14,000 nursing student affiliates providing care in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, industry and clinics.
SOURCE Ontario Nurses' Association