Ontario Nurses’ Association calls for Sault Ste. Marie & District Group Health Centre to Respect RNs and NPs

November 24, 2020

SAULT STE. MARIE, ON. (November 24, 2020) – Contract talks have broken down between Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) Local 12 members and the Sault Ste. Marie & District Group Health Centre. The two sides will soon enter into conciliation talks.

While the 13 full-time, 14 part-time and one casual registered nurses (RNs) and 10 full-time and one part-time nurse practitioners (NPs) continue to provide a wide range of health-care services to the people of the Sault and Algoma district during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been without a contract since April 1, 2020.

“Our highly educated registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) have seen their caseloads grow enormously during the pandemic,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN. “At a time when their employer should be acknowledging the professionalism and dedication of the RNs and NPs, Sault Ste. Marie & District Group Health Centre has instead sought cuts to their benefits and to suppress their wages.”

The RNs and NPs provide cardiac rehabilitation, anticoagulation therapy monitoring, family health and congestive heart failure services. “This directly results in fewer emergency room visits by local residents,” says McKenna. “Occupational health nurses help local industrial companies in Sault Ste. Marie and the nurses also provide diabetic services, work in obstetrics and gynecology, endoscopy, surgery and perform minor ear nose and throat procedures. NPs in this clinic have a caseload of 1,000 patients. Their work is invaluable to the people in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma. We hope that their employer recognizes this and will show their respect for the work these nurses do.”

McKenna notes that the clinic closed some departments and reduced services during the first wave of COVID-19, but the RNs and NPs continued to offer the full spectrum of programs and procedures, despite the direct risk to themselves and their families of becoming infected. “NPs in this clinic care for heavy patient loads. These nurses were not provided the pandemic pay bump that others in the province saw.

“Our members should be commended for adapting to the rapidly changing provincial directives while continuing to provide quality patient care during these unprecedented times,” she says.

ONA expects to head to mediation with this employer in the near future and calls on the employer to step up and show the RNs and NPs the respect they so rightly deserve.

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 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.


For more information:

Sheree Bond (416) 986-8240 (cell) shereeb@ona.org