Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members working for the North East Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) have voted “yes,” clearly signaling to their negotiating committee a solid strike mandate should negotiation of a new collective agreement not lead to a fair deal.
“Our dedicated, highly skilled, highly educated nurses and allied health professionals are vital to the communities of Sudbury, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Parry Sound, and Kirkland Lake, including remote satellite offices in areas such as Moosonee and Wawa,” says ONA First Vice-President Vicki McKenna, RN. “Our members work as care coordinators, placement coordinators, care connectors, wound care nurses, mental health and addictions nurses, rapid response nurses and in Telehomecare. They provide excellent front-line care, school health support services, and therapy services in this region.”
The approximately 300 members have been working without a contract since March 2016.
“The work our CCAC members do ensures that patients’ care needs are accurately assessed, that those needing support and therapy for a range of conditions receive that help in a timely manner. Our members are vital to patients’ needs,” says McKenna. “From school children to those at the end of life, our members are there for them.”
McKenna notes that while ONA CCAC members do not wish to be forced to withdraw their services, they are united in their goal of negotiating a fair collective agreement that is comparable to that of CCAC members doing similar work in other parts of the province. NECCAC members must not be treated like the ‘poor cousin in the north’ – providing first-class health care and being compensated with second-class wages.
“As health-care providers, our patients’ care needs are paramount to us,” says McKenna. “We are optimistic that a negotiated contract that values our work can be achieved. Negotiations are scheduled for January 26and 27, and ONA members will be at the table in solidarity, and expect the employer to come to the table with the goal of negotiating a contract.”
ONA is the union representing 62,000 registered nurses and allied health professionals, as well as almost 16,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.