Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay public health nurses, health unit continue labour talks

The union representing nearly 60 public health nurses at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit remains optimistic as both sides continue through their second day of conciliated talks.

Both sides in second day of conciliation; nurses haven't had a contract since December 2016

Conciliated talks continued Wednesday between the union representing nearly 60 public health nurses and their employer, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. (CBC)

The union representing nearly 60 public health nurses at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) remains optimistic as both sides continue through their second day of conciliated talks.

The nurses, represented by the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), have been without a contract since December 31, 2016. The ONA and TBDHU began two days of conciliated talks on Tuesday in Thunder Bay.

"It's moving slowly," said ONA president Vicki McKenna. "However, both parties are still at the table, and we are certainly committed to getting a contract."

Wages, workplace safety among issues

McKenna said the union is hoping to have a new contract offer to bring to members by the end of the day Wednesday.

"There are some wage issues," she said. "But there's other issues in regard to their workplace: workplace safety, the working conditions that they're under, and some of the loads that they're carrying are quite intense."

McKenna noted the Thunder Bay nurses are the lowest-paid among all of Ontario's public health nurses; public health nurses, she said, negotiate specifically with their local health unit, and aren't province-wide.

That, she said, leads to wage disparity between different regions.

"We believe they should be treated fairly and equitably across the province," McKenna said. "We know they do the same work."

The TBDHU declined to comment, instead issuing a written statement when reached on Wednesday afternoon: 

"The parties are currently meeting with the assistance of a Ministry of Labour Conciliator," the statement reads. "Due to the confidential nature of the collective bargaining process, no further statement will be given at this time."