Hatfield calls on province to intervene in health unit strike

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

Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield is calling on the Ford government to send the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit back to the bargaining table in a bid to end a strike by public health nurses.

The nurses walked off the job two-and-a-half weeks ago after their union, the Ontario Nurses Association, and the health unit failed to reach a deal. They have been working without a contract for almost a year.

The health unit did offer public health nurses a one per cent raise, far below the increase demanded by the union.

“These hardworking, highly trained nurses provide invaluable public health services to our community,” said Hatfield in the Ontario legislature Monday. “To have many of these nurses struggling to make ends meet is unacceptable. Most disrespectful is that the nurses have been offered a wage significantly below that of their male counterparts in Windsor’s municipal sector.”

The union had pointed to increases awarded to firefighters and police officers.

“Historically, our region’s health unit has been underfunded by the province. It’s time for Health Minister Christine Elliott to pick up the phone and order the health unit to get back to the bargaining table today,” he added.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit employs 86 public health nurses.