Frontline public health workers affiliated with CUPE Local 3314 at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health are entering their tenth month without a contract.
Members of the local, including public health inspectors, dental assistants, and health promoters, among others, are now preparing to begin negotiations, and are hoping their nurse colleagues’ recent contract is a good sign.
Kim Craig, public health inspector and president of the CUPE local, stated on Oct. 2 that over the weekend, members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) Local 31 reached a tentative agreement with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health managers.
“Our nurse coworkers’ positive outcome is promising, and we have presented management with proposals in line with their agreement,” she said. “We urge management to return to the negotiation table to discuss our reasonable, necessary, and affordable proposals.”
The CUPE public health workers provide care to nearly 200,000 residents across Belleville, Quinte West, Hastings County and Prince Edward County. Their essential services encompass a wide array of critical functions, from dental care for seniors and school-age children to enforcing anti-smoking laws, conducting needle exchange programs and tracking and tracing communicable diseases.
Last Tuesday, Prince Edward County councillor John Hirsch announced his resignation 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 in announcing her own resignation moments later.