(CHATHAM, ON) – The conciliation stage has been reached in negotiations between the 42 nurses working at Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit. The nurses agreed to conciliation talks as a way to achieve a new contract without the nurses having to set up a picket line.
Their current contract expired in December last year.
Public health nurses in Chatham-Kent provide chronic disease and injury prevention services in schools, workplaces, and the community. They also run the city’s smoking cessation programs and vaccination clinics, monitor for, investigate, and control infectious disease outbreaks, and run sexual health clinics and provide health education for young people.
The nurses also provide blood-borne infection testing and monitoring for such diseases as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and B, develop harm reduction strategies, including needle exchange programs which include naloxone training, dispensing, and counseling.
“In addition, these highly educated and skilled nurses provide pregnancy counseling, prenatal support, and support for high-risk families,” said Ontario Nurses Association executive Vicki McKenna.
Other tasks carried out by the nurses include running breastfeeding clinics, partnering with multiple community agencies, and visiting new parents.
The ONA is seeking a contract which is able to give its Chatham-Kent members wage and benefit parity with nurses in other southwest Ontario health units.