Strike deadline looming for public health nurses in Windsor Essex

Contract talks have broken down between the Ontario Nurses Association and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Public health nurses will vote on the final offer March 7

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit says it addresses public health needs which are specific to the region. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Talks have broken down between the Ontario Nurses Association and the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, with only a week left before a possible strike or lockout.

The ONA represents about 80 nurses connected to the WECHU — nurse practitioners, public health nurses and registered practical nurses.

Both sides met for mediation on Thursday, but the nurses' association released a statement late in the day indicating it was "deeply disappointed" by a "final offer" made by the health unit's negotiators.

"... management has not made any significant movement on crucial issues for this group of 80 nurses, who provide care to the most vulnerable people in our communities," said the statement.

On March 7, the association will vote on that final offer, but the details have not yet been made public. As of midnight March 8, nurses are in a position to strike and the health unit is in a position to lock them out.

"Unfortunately union leadership has chosen to reject further negotiations," said Theresa Marentette, CEO and chief nursing officer for the health unit, in a statement to the media.

Both sides have said they are still hopeful there will be an agreement.

Theresa Marentette, CEO for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"Our number one priority is to meet the growing demand for public health services in Windsor Essex County," said Marentette.

According to the health unit, every dollar toward pay increases is "a dollar we take away from public health programs and services."

The ONA is pointing out the health unit received a five per cent increase in municipal funding this year. 


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