Thunder Bay

Nurses union, Thunder Bay health unit resume bargaining

The president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) joined the striking public health nurses on the picket lines on Friday morning.

Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions president joins picket line Friday

The president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, Linda Silas, left, joined striking public health nurses outside the Thunder Bay District Health Unit Friday. (Heather Kitching / CBC)

Officials with the Ontario Nurses Association say they're hopeful that renewed talks between the union and the Thunder Bay District Health Unit will lead to an end to the strike by public health nurses in the district. 

Talks resumed around 10:00 a.m. Friday morning, ONA labour relations officer Chris Cormier told CBC.

"At this point we are just cautiously optimistic, and we hope that the employer is willing to come to a reasonable settlement for our members and, more importantly, for the clients that are impacted in the city," Cormier said.

"We hope that at the end of the day, we can reach a negotiated settlement," he added, "and at some point hopefully everyone can come to terms, and we can all agree to something that's acceptable for the nurses."

Nearly 60 public health nurses in the northwestern Ontario district have been on strike for nearly five weeks.

The Ministry of Labour assigned a new mediator to the case earlier this week after the union requested someone with "more experience."

Wages continue to be the main point of disagreement between the parties, according to ONA's Region One vice president, Pam Mancuso.

On Friday, striking nurses were joined on the picket lines by the President of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU), Linda Silas, who expressed her optimism that a deal would soon be reached.

"Nurses don't stay on strike for five weeks," Silas said. "It just doesn't happen, because we serve the public. So when these 50-some nurses are not doing their job ... there's people getting sicker. There's clinics not being opened."

​She said it's encouraging to see that the labour board appointed a new mediator, and she hopes that the nurses can get back to their work as soon as next week.

With files from Heather Kitching