VIDEO: Services Impacted by Health Unit Nurses Strike

Some services at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will be impacted now that 80 nurses have walked off the job.

The members of the Ontario Nurses Association went on strike Friday morning after they overwhelmingly rejected the employer's final offer Thursday night.

Services such as the Healthy Families Home Visiting Program, Healthy Schools Program, breastfeeding clinics, sexual health and family planning clinics and the immunization programs have been cancelled.

The health unit will remain open to the public during the strike.

The nurse's union voiced concerns of the impact on infectious diseases.

"We have got outbreaks going on, it is the infectious disease portion that is probably to me the most scary. We have outbreaks going on, there are such high cases of syphilis in the community.  The nurses here treat that," says Bargaining Unit President at the health unit for ONA Barb Deter.

But the health unit maintains it is taking care of that and monitoring outbreaks in-house.

"Just to reassure the public that we are taking care of infectious diseases and we will be monitoring any potential outbreaks, so some aspects of that are taken care of internally," says health unit CEO Theresa Marentette.


Health unit nurses go on strike. March 9, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Teresinha Medeiros)

The nurses have been without a contract for about a year and the union claims the employer hasn't budged from its stance since September.

The health unit says the final offer is fair and reasonable and includes increases to wages, benefits and no concessions.

"We are trying to provide more services to the public with public health demands and balance that with providing our very good competent nursing staff with compensation," says Marenette.  "They are online, on par with other public health nurses across the province."

The President of the Ontario Nurses Association Vicki McKenna, who visited the picket line Friday morning says these nurses are not appreciated enough.

"The work that they do and the value to the community and to the health care system, seems to be missed in the whole conversation," says McKenna.

No new talks are planned. 

The union says the strike is about respect, recognizing the value of female workers and money.