Health Unit Board Ratifies Agreement Officially Ending Nurses Strike

More than 80 public health nurses in Windsor-Essex will be back on the job on Friday. 

The board of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit unanimously ratified a new three year agreement Thursday morning after the nurses approved the contract on Wednesday. 

The agreement includes a 4% wage increase over the life of the agreement, as well as improved benefits.

The nurse practitioners, public health nurses and registered practical nurses went on strike March 8 to back demand demands for more money. 

A number of programs were cancelled due to the strike including the healthy families home visiting program for new homes, the healthy schools program, the school immunization clinics for Grade 7 students and the school suspension program for incomplete immunizations.

Catch-up immunization clinics will take place this summer.

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Health Unit CEO Theresa Marenette (Photo by AM800's Teresinha medeiros)

Health Unit CEO Theresa Marentette says nurses and managers will sit down and figure out what needs to be done first.

"The managers will regroup with their nursing staff and prioritize the immediate needs and then they will move on from there," she says.  "Some programs have been maintained, it will be important to review what has been maintained and what will need to be resurrected again."

Meanwhile, the budget pressures aren't over for the health unit.   It submitted its 2019 budget to the province on March 31st as the province adjusted its funding levels to health units across the province.

"Those conversations are happening right now, how are we going to work within the budget and continue to deliver services," says Marentette.  "Every program will be looked at and every position, that would have happened with or without the strike."

The new agreement expires in 2021.