Es­sen­tial ser­vices to be main­tained in event of strike: Health unit

Food ser­vice in­spec­tions, vac­cine dis­tri­bu­tion, den­tal ap­point­ments would be un­af­fected

The Peterborough Examiner - - Front Page - JA­SON BAIN Ex­am­iner Staff Writer

Peter­bor­ough Pub­lic Health has con­tin­gency plans to main­tain es­sen­tial pub­lic health ser­vices should it not reach a col­lec­tive agree­ment with its reg­is­tered nurses be­fore they are in a law­ful strike po­si­tion later this month, of­fi­cials stated Tues­day.

The con­tract dis­pute, which went to con­cil­i­a­tion early last month, goes to me­di­a­tion Mon­day with a le­gal strike/lock­out date fol­low­ing two days later. The 31 nurses, mem­bers of the On­tario Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion (ONA), have been with­out a con­tract since Oc­to­ber 2017.

“In the event of an ONA strike, nurs­ing ser­vices would be im­pacted, but we do have plans in place to main­tain es­sen­tial pub­lic health ser­vices and we plan to use our web­site and lo­cal me­dia to keep the pub­lic in­formed of any changes in op­er­a­tions,” med­i­cal of­fi­cer of health Dr. Rosana Sal­vaterra said in a recorded state­ment re­leased Tues­day.

Es­sen­tial ser­vices that would not be im­pacted in­clude re­spond­ing to pub­lic health emer­gen­cies, out­break in­ves­ti­ga­tions, vac­cine dis­tri­bu­tion, in­ves­ti­ga­tion and fol­lowup to all re­ported cases of dis­eases of pub­lic health sig­nif­i­cance, of­fi­cials stated.

In­ves­ti­ga­tion of health haz­ard com­plaints, food premises in­spec­tions and pro­vi­sion of oral health screen­ing in schools and den­tal clinic ap­point­ments would also be un­af­fected.

Should there be a strike, the health unit will re­main open be­tween 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

week­days, but sev­eral ser­vices and pro­grams will be af­fected, of­fi­cials stated.

A list of those ser­vices will be posted Nov. 27 at www.pe­ter­bor­ough­pub­lichealth.ca, should there be a labour dis­rup­tion, of­fi­cials stated. Res­i­dents are also en­cour­aged to fol­low the health unit on so­cial me­dia

@Pt­boHealth for up­dates.

The main is­sue is that nurses want to keep work­ing in spe­cial­ized ar­eas like other health pro­fes­sion­als, bar­gain­ing unit pres­i­dent Diane Lock­man said last Wed­nes­day dur­ing an in­for­ma­tion picket be­fore the monthly board of health meet­ing.

“We want to con­tinue to keep our com­mu­nity safe by con­tin­u­ing to work in the roles we have the skills to be in,” the reg­is­tered nurse said.

Lock­man, who also pointed out the nurses are the low­est paid of five sur­round­ing health units, said the union is will­ing to make com­pro­mises so the two sides can reach a set­tle­ment when they come to the me­di­a­tion table.

The health unit looks for­ward to me­di­a­tion, Sal­vaterra said. “Peter­bor­ough Pub­lic Health has been in ne­go­ti­a­tions with ONA for sev­eral months and we re­main com­mit­ted to ne­go­ti­at­ing a fair and eq­ui­table agree­ment for all.”

Health unit of­fi­cials also re­minded those who ac­cess pub­lic health ser­vices that there could be picket lines, in­clud­ing at its head­quar­ters at 185 King St.

For safety, of­fi­cials asked them to be pre­pared for larger crowds, to be pa­tient and cour­te­ous, to ar­rive early with de­lays likely and that in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour by ei­ther side is not ac­cept­able — and pos­si­bly il­le­gal.

Se­cu­rity will be on hand to as­sist, if needed, of­fi­cials stated.

The ONA rep­re­sents more than 65,000 reg­is­tered nurses and health-care pro­fes­sion­als, as well as 18,000 nurs­ing stu­dent af­fil­i­ates, pro­vid­ing care in hos­pi­tals, long-term care fa­cil­i­ties, pub­lic health, clin­ics and in­dus­try.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

Peter­bor­ough Pub­lic Health Nurses hold an in­for­ma­tion picket out­side Jack­son Square prior to the board of health meet­ing on Nov. 14.

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