Windsor-Essex County Health Unit Returned Funding While Claiming No Money for an Equitable Wage Increase for Nurses
March 19, 2019
WINDSOR-ESSEX COUNTY, March 19, 2019 – More than 80 Nurse Practitioners, Public Health Nurses and Registered Practical Nurses from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit are looking for answers as to why the organization’s administration returned hundreds of thousands of dollars in in provincial funding to the government in 2018.
“Documents posted on the health unit’s website show that $537,776 of the funding returned was due to the board of health not filling vacant nurse positions, filling some positions with lower-cost workers and intentionally underspending on salary and benefits last year,” notes Vicki McKenna, RN, President of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA).
“While the health unit CEO says an equitable wage increase for the dedicated nurses who provide the vast array of programs and services to Windsor and County of Essex residents is ‘unaffordable,’ the health unit underspent 3.42 per cent of its salary and benefits expenses,” McKenna says.
Windsor-Essex County Health Unit continues to claim that every dollar spent on salaries would result in a loss of programs and services. Why then, did it return hundreds of thousands of dollars in provincial money?
McKenna points out that there is increasing demand for programs and services in Windsor-Essex County. Programs and services delivered by the nurses, such as immunization clinics, were cancelled prior to the start of the strike and continue to be cancelled as the strike enters its second week. McKenna is urging the health unit to call the nurses back to the bargaining table now.
“Clearly, the health unit receives funding that would allow for an equitable deal for our members,” said McKenna. “Our members want to be there to deliver the programs and services the people of this community need and rely on. It’s time to reach a new deal and ensure our hard-working, knowledgeable and dedicated nurses can ensure the health and well-being of their community.”
ONA is the union representing 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, the community, clinics and industry.