Striking public health nurses and their supporters at a rally in Windsor, March 15, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Nurses, politicians rally in Windsor (GALLERY)

Striking public health nurses in Windsor raised their voices in hopes of getting their contract impasse resolved.

Dozens of nurses at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit gathered Friday with their families and other supporters for a lunchtime rally at the corner of Erie Street East and Ouellette Avenue, calling attention to their fight to force the health unit back to the bargaining table and resolve the dispute.

Eighty-six public health nurses, represented by the Ontario Nurses Association, walked off the job last week in a dispute over wage parity. Beverly Mathers, the interim CEO of the ONA, assured the striking nurses that the union had their back and called the health unit to task.

“This employer seems more willing to cancel vital programs and services and to put community members at risk than to sit down and negotiate a respectful, competitive collective agreement,” said Mathers.

Most of Windsor-Essex’s parliamentary and provincial representation, all members of the NDP, were on hand. Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky said it was time for employers to come out of the dark ages and have serious discussions about fair, equitable pay.

“We shouldn’t be having this conversation anymore about pay equity,” said Gretzky. “We need to ensure that every woman in the workforce is getting compensated fairly and equitably.”

The public health nurses have been working without a contract since the spring of 2018.

The WECHU said they remain fully committed to ensuring most of their health programs are continued during the labour dispute. In a tweet Friday afternoon, the health unit praised the work their nurses do, but are trying to take into consideration the growing demand for public health resources in the area.