Health Unit Chair Stands Firm on Latest Offer to Striking Nurses

The Chair of the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is standing firm on the latest offer to striking nurses.

A petition was delivered to board chair Gary McNamara at Tecumseh Town Hall Friday morning. It contained 1,000 signatures in support of the health unit's 86 striking nurses. Money is the main issue holding up a deal, with the Ontario Nurses Association members — they want the same increases afforded to men in the same field.

McNamara, who also serves as Warden of Essex County and Mayor of Tecumseh, says the bottom line after five-weeks and three rejected-deals is their simply isn't any more money to give.

"We have given them three offers; they've turned them all down. If they were paying attention to the Minister of Finance it's pretty clear there's no money," he says.

With 75% of funding coming from government grants, McNamara says there's a danger money for services provided by those nurses could be lost if the work stoppage continues.

"We haven't even had an approval for our 2019 budget that was passed back in December of 2018. Right now there's $400,000 at risk that we won't get and those are on programs alone," McNamara says. "At some point in time that's it, there are no further dollars to be had because whatever is put on the table is at risk that municipalities are going to have to pick those extra dollars. It's about how much can the taxpayers in our region bear."

According to the union, the petition calls on the health unit to change its mandate and present a fair deal to the striking nurses.

The union held a rally Friday in front of the health unit's office in Windsor.