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Nurses union unhappy about arbitration with Health Sciences North

Ontario Nurses' Association said roughly 900 unionized health workers have been without a contract since 2022
Health Sciences North, Sudbury.

Health Sciences North (HSN) is in the midst of arbitration with the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), which is seeking to reach a new work contract for 900 members of the health-care profession’s bargaining unit.

ONA said it is not happy that the union and the hospital are resorting to arbitration to settle a new contract that is two years past due.

“It is appalling that our skilled and dedicated health-care professionals have received so little respect from their employer and have been forced into arbitration for a new contract,” said ONA President Erin Ariss, RN.

“If HSN had any regard for those on the front lines who provide such value to patients, they would have fairly negotiated a respectful contract. Instead of prioritizing the working conditions of those who deliver patient care, they have left our members severely short staffed and struggling to provide care and diagnostic services," Ariss added.

ONA said this particular bargaining unit does not represent nurses but the health specialties that are impacted by shortages: Respiratory Therapists, Pathologist assistants, Lab Technicians, Radiation Therapists, Medical Radiation Technologists (N), Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, Pharmacy Technicians, Prosthetic and Orthotic Technicians, and Perfusionists.

HSN health-care professionals have been working without a current contract since June 2022, said the ONA release. The hospital has failed to retain and recruit sufficient workers, including radiation therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, and respiratory therapists, said a news release.

There are also a wide range of skilled workers in pharmacy, lab, and diagnostic imaging who are experiencing shortages, said the release.

“The shortages have resulted in patient delays in accessing diagnostic work and treatment, and the heavy workloads have left many health-care professionals burnt out,” said Ariss. 

For its part, the hospital said arbitration is part of the bargaining process. 

“HSN and ONAP have been in contract negotiations since November of 2022. As both parties have been unable to come to a negotiated settlement, they have agreed to remit all outstanding issues to an arbitrator as per provincial bargaining legislation. HSN is unable to comment further at this time,” said the statement from the hospital.

Len Gillis covers health care and mining for


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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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