Sault Ste. Marie Group Health Nurses Headed to Arbitration

Employer demanding concessions from highly educated RNs, NPs

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, April 7, 2017 /CNW/ - Citing their employer's lack of knowledge of the skills, education and value of the work of registered nurses and nurse practitioners at the Sault Ste. Marie and District Group Health Centre, Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA) members are heading to interest arbitration in their efforts to reach a new contract.

"For someone who is paid more than the head of the Sault Area Hospital, the CEO of the Group Health Centre and the senior executive team have displayed a disturbing lack of knowledge of the work of our dedicated registered nurses and nurse practitioners," notes ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. "During our negotiations, this employer has demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of the work our members do and the value they provide to their patients. Let's be clear: RNs and NPs possess the education, knowledge, skill set and judgment to best care for their patients. They possess the same level of education and skill set as RNs and NPs who work in other health-care settings, and are highly accountable, highly regulated health-care providers."

McKenna says the ONA members have been working without a contract since March 31, 2016. They are the lowest-paid in the Sault Ste. Marie area, and their employer has been seeking to gut benefits, although the CEO is on the Sunshine List as enjoying more than $1,275 in taxable benefits himself. After being unable to reach an agreement, the parties have agreed to go to interest arbitration.

"It's disheartening to see our invaluable members treated with such disrespect by their employer, and even more disheartening to witness the ignorance of the employer regarding the lifelong learning and professional development needs of our members," said McKenna. "Nurses know that they want to be there for their patients, and hope the community will support them as this dispute heads to arbitration."

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: Katherine Russo, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2214,; Priya Bates, (416) 964-8833, ext. 2351,


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