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Letter to the editor: Public health nurses concerned about the health of their community

As the nurses providing you with a wide range of health promotion and health protection services through the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, we are increasingly concerned about the health of individuals in Thunder Bay and district.
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Letters to the editor - with text

To the editor:

As the nurses providing you with a wide range of health promotion and health protection services through the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, we are increasingly concerned about the health of individuals in Thunder Bay and district.

We have been working without a contract since December 2016 and are in a legal strike position as of Oct. 16. As we approach that date, our employer has been meeting with us to cancel or suspend programs in advance of mediation talks, scheduled for Oct. 15.

Thunder Bay and district has some of the highest infection rates in Ontario, with tuberculosis, chlamydia, Group A strep and a high burden of illness among its populations. While we are highly educated, highly skilled and dedicated, our work is often invisible to the public; be assured, we work hard on a range of programs and services to keep you in our communities healthy and well.

Some of the services we provide include health promotion, such as prevention of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and creating awareness of harm to children of exposure to toxic chemicals.

As your public health nurses, we work to decrease the stigma around mental illness, including mothers struggling with depression, provide parents with education to help families stay together, and work with partners to prevent and/or decrease violence in this community.

We work in our local schools and workplaces to improve your health. We respond to both potential and occurring communicable infectious outbreaks, administer immunizations, identify people who may be exposed to significant infections and ensure proper treatment to reduce the risk to the public.

We work in your homes to provide care to newborn infants and children, support breastfeeding, are an access point for many in our community who do not have a primary care provider to provide cervical screening, childhood and adult vaccines, and contraceptive options.

As your public health nurses, we have been seeking a fair and equitable compensation package that recognizes the vital work we do for you each and every day. There are fewer of us working to keep our communities safe, and we continue to be paid 10 per cent less than our comparable public health colleagues in neighbouring health units. 

Surveys show that you continue to value, respect and trust us and the work we do for you. Please support us as we try to negotiate a fair, equitable contract so that we can continue to be there for you.

Callor email Joe Virdiramo (jvirdiramo@thunderbay.ca at 625-5547), Chair of the Board of Health, or Medical Officer of Health, Janet DeMille (janet.demille@tbdhu.com at 625-5976) to urge the board to offer a fair contract and avoid a disruption in vital health-care services.

Your Public Health Nurses,
Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 014,
Thunder Bay




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