Public health nurses spend International Women’s Day on the picket lines: ONA members reject employer’s final offer, forced to strike

March 8, 2019

WINDSOR-ESSEX COUNTY, March 8, 2019 – More than 80 Nurse Practitioners, Public Health Nurses and Registered Practical Nurses who provide a wide range of services to close to 500,000 Windsor-Essex County residents are marking International Women’s Day on the picket lines. The nurses were forced out on strike after mediation failed to result in a new collective agreement.

“It is beyond ironic that a day meant to celebrate the contributions of women around the world has our highly educated, dedicated public health nurses walking the picket line, fighting for respect from their employer,” said ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN.

“Our members provide such value to the community – a large population with a high number of vulnerable people, recent refugees, newborns and seniors. They work to keep the community healthy, and monitor and control outbreaks of sexually transmitted infections and infectious diseases, such as measles and mumps.”

The nurses have worked without a contract since March 31, 2018. They had been optimistic that a fair agreement could be reached during mediation held on February 28 and tried talking to the health unit’s negotiators again yesterday morning. However, the employer is entrenched in its position and didn’t budge from its final offer which was overwhelmingly rejected by the nurses during a vote Thursday evening.

“This is 2019,” said McKenna. “With all the progress made with respect to women and gender equality, we are disappointed the bargaining team for Windsor-Essex County Health Unit failed to come to the table prepared to recognize the value of our members’ work.

“Municipal workers in this county in male-dominated professions, such as police and firefighters, are receiving far better contracts with regard to wages than our female-dominated professionals,” she said. “If nursing were a male-dominated profession, I suspect that our nurses would not have been forced out onto the picket lines. We remain ready to get back to the table at any time so our members can provide the services our community members deserve and need.”

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.


For more information:

Sheree Bond (416) 964-8833, ext. 2430; cell: (416) 986-8240;

Melanie Levenson (416) 964-8833, ext. 2369;