BELLEVILLE, ON—After 10 days on strike, frontline public health workers at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health have reached a tentative agreement with the board of health.
The workers’ bargaining committee resumed negotiations with management on Monday afternoon following news that their nurse coworkers, members of Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) Local 31, ratified a collective agreement for 50 ONA members on Saturday. The nurses had been on strike for six weeks.
A ratification vote for CUPE members has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. The terms of the tentative agreement will not be released publicly until workers have had a chance to review and vote on them first.
“I’m pleased we were able to finally negotiate an agreement that respects the vital care work frontline public health workers do and brings us a bit closer to meeting the rising cost of living due to high inflation,” said Kim Craig, a public health inspector and the president of CUPE Local 3314. “But my coworkers and I are frustrated that it took 10 days of us withdrawing our labour for Hastings Prince Edward Public Health management to get here.”
Frontline public health workers are taking down their picket lines pending ratification of their tentative agreement and plan to return to work Wednesday if they vote to accept the agreement.
- CUPE public health workers at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health have been without a contract since January 1, 2023.
- These frontline CUPE public health workers are: Public health inspectors, a Smoke-Free Ontario (SFO) enforcement officer, Certified dental assistants, Registered dental hygienists, a Family home visitor, Registered dieticians, Health promoters, a Foundational standards specialist who tracks vital statistics, a Communications coordinator, a Building maintenance operator, Information technology staff, and Program assistants who provide professional clerical support.
- CUPE frontline public health workers provide care and vital public health services for nearly 200,000 residents of the City of Belleville, City of Quinte West, Hastings County, and Prince Edward County.
- Their work includes:
- dental care for seniors and school-age children;
- education about vaping and smoking and promotion of cessation in schools and the community;
- enforcement of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act;
- needle exchange programs and the provision of and training on the use of Naloxone kits;
- inspecting restaurants and institutional kitchens, and enforcement of Ontario food safety regulations;
- inspecting daycares as well as nursing and retirement homes;
- testing of public swimming pool water and drinking water (well water);
- tracking and contact tracing communicable diseases;
- follow-up on reportable diseases;
- running immunization clinics (e.g. flu, COVID-19);
- informing the public about vaccination clinics, the rabies program, etc.;
- sexual health education and provision of free birth control to those who cannot afford it;
- conducting the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program, postnatal in-community care, and breastfeeding clinics.
- Last Tuesday, Prince Edward County Councillor John Hirsch announced that he would be resigning from the board of health citing the need for a “new and more transparent approach … in order to quickly resolve the labour disputes and get the employees back to work – the very people we rely on to safeguard our public health.” Councillor Kate MacNaughton joined Hirsch announcing her own resignation moments later.
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