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Three Health unit offices close due to strikes

SEPT. 21: Staff at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) who are represented by CUPE Local 3314 are exercising their right to strike as of Friday, Sept. 22. The nursing staff at HPEPH, who are represented by the Ontario Nurses’ Association, have been on strike since Aug. 18.

Due to the labour disruption, HPEPH offices in Picton, Quinte West and Bancroft are closed effective Sept. 22. The Belleville office is closed, except for select services for pickup or by appointment only. Visitors to HPEPH offices should be prepared to be delayed by a picket line.

HPEPH states the Board of Health and negotiation committee remain committed to making the best offer possible to both unions within the limitations of its budget and mandate, while protecting jobs and the scope of services that HPEPH provides.

“Today, for the first time in more than a month, the health unit returned to the table with the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) to resume negotiations for a new contract for 50 striking nurses,” states Sheree Bond, media relations officer with the Ontario Nurses Association stated this morning. “Talks began at 10 am and broke down within minutes. The strike continues, and nurses will continue their strike actions.”

The frontline CUPE public health workers going on strike Friday include: Public health inspectors, a Smoke-Free Ontario (SFO) enforcement officer, Certified dental assistants, Registered dental hygienists, Family home visitor for the healthy babies/healthy children program, Registered dieticians, Health promoters who inform the public about flu vaccination clinics, the rabies program, etc., 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 public health workers at Hastings Prince Edward Public Health met with the health unit’s management back at the bargaining table again this afternoon. Unfortunately, there was no movement to meet workers’ reasonable, necessary, and affordable proposals on wages and benefits,” states Ken Marciniec, CUPE communications, in a media release. He adds the local seeks wages that meet the rising cost of living due to inflation, and to secure sufficient funding for public health to protect the communities from transmissible diseases.

Marciniec noted the 70 public health workers with the CUPE local will be joining the 50 ONA members on strike for the past five weeks.

Both groups plan to rally at noon tomorrow at the Belleville offices, 179 North Park Street.

“The health and well-being of our community is our top priority, and plans are in place to address the further disruption in services,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “We will continue to provide critical services throughout the duration of the work stoppage to ensure public safety, and are hopeful that negotiations will continue with both unions so we can come to an agreement and restore regular service provision.”

* * *

UPDATE Sept. 11: Today, striking nurses are picketing and distributing leaflets in their efforts to pressure Board of Health members to negotiate.

Picketing this morning is at Bay of Quinte MPP Todd Smith’s constituency office and this afternoon from at Family Health Team and doctors’ offices.

The nurses say COVID-19 cases are rising with no one available at the health unit to provide mitigation advice or administer vaccines.

Public health advises residents to visit participating pharmacies to get vaccines. At last report Sept. 6 there were 61 new high risk setting cases and 84 active high-risk setting cases. For the week ending Sept. 9 there were 6.5 hospitalizations. One person required intensive care.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health is also in the process of negotiations with unionized staff represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) local 3314.   CUPE will be in a legal strike position on Sept. 22.

HPEPH is preparing for the possibility of work stoppage.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association Local 31 (ONA) has been on strike since Aug. 21.

If an agreement is not reached with CUPE and/or ONA, HPEPH services will be temporarily limited to core public health services critical to protect public safety.

Click here for HPEPH’s service disruption notice , updated to reflect cancellations.

UPDATE: Sept. 5 – Members of the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), along with community members, labour and business supporters, will rally outside the Hastings & Prince Edward County Public Health building Wednesday, Sept. 6 as the Board of Health meets inside.

The rally will demonstrate support for striking ONA nurses – who have been on strike for more than two weeks – and CUPE public health workers, who are also preparing for potential job action.

It is expected the rally will also be attended by nurses and health-care professionals from nearby facilities, members of the community and businesses, ONA and CUPE provincial leaders, and members of other unions. Speeches are to begin at 10:15 a.m.


UPDATE AUG. 21: Following three days of of bargaining and one day of conciliation 50 nurses employed by Hastings Prince Edward Public Health are on strike as of this morning.

Picketing is under way outside the Hastings & Prince Edward County Health Unit, 179 North Park Street, Belleville. Picketers are not to stop visitors and clients from entering the property, although some delays should be expected.

HPEPH has stated all offices will remain open and certain critical services are continuing, while others will be interrupted or offered in alternate means (see below)

“If nurses are outside picketing, you know there’s something wrong inside,” said ONA Provincial President Erin Ariss, RN. “The extraordinary nurses working in this public health unit have tried everything possible to avoid a strike, up to the very last minute.”

“While we are disappointed that ONA members have chosen to reject our offer, we recognize that it is their legal right to strike,” says Dr. Ethan Toumishey, Medical Officer of Health and CEO at HPEPH. “We are optimistic that ONA will reconsider the offer we presented and full regular service can resume.”

Ariss states wages are the sole sticking point to reaching an agreement and HPEPH brought an identical monetary offer to the table during the entire process. 

The nurses provide a wide range of care and services across a catchment area of more than 7,000 kilometres, including immunization clinics, monitoring for outbreaks, sexual health clinics and more.

UPDATE AUG 18: The 50 Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members – registered nurses, public health nurses and registered practical nurses – have rejected a contract offered by Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and are in a strike position as of Monday.

They have been working without a contract since Dec. 31.

HPEPH states visitors to HPEPH offices should be prepared to be delayed by a picket line.

All HPEPH offices remain open and certain critical services are continuing
and some services will be temporarily interrupted or offered in an alternate manner. See below.

UPDATE AUG. 17: Some 50 registered nurses, public health nurses and registered practical nurses providing public health services at the Hastings & Prince Edward Health Unit are to vote on a contract offer Aug. 17 and 18. (Note error corrected, not nurse practitioners).

Results of the vote will be tabulated late Friday afternoon. Should the nurses reject the offer, they will be on strike as of Monday, Aug. 21.

“The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) members have been without a contract since last December,” said Sheree Bond, ONA Media Relations Officer. “Their employer brought an identical monetary offer to the table throughout negotiations and conciliation, in a dispute in which wages are the major issue.”

UPDATED AUG 9: Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) and Local 31 of the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) are in the process of contract negotiations and until an agreement is reached, HPEPH is advising of temporary interruption in certain services.

Sheree Bond, Media Relations Officer with the Ontario Nurses’ Association, shared a statement released by the ONA regarding negotiations.

It states just over 50 registered nurses, public health nurses and registered practical nurses have “shown unwavering dedication to those they serve and have done everything possible to negotiate a fair new contract with their employer.”

She states the nurses continue efforts to avoid a strike, however “this employer triggered the countdown to a strike when it filed for a no-board report and set the current situation in motion.

“Nurses note that throughout bargaining and conciliation, the employer came to the table with one monetary offer only, showing no good faith and refusing to negotiate fairly. The employer has declined a generous and unusual offer by the nurses to go to voluntary arbitration in order to avoid a strike. We ask the people of this county to understand that this is about fairness and to support the nurses who provide services to them.”

Changes in services:

Smoking cessation services are cancelled for new registrations effective Aug. 11. Current clients can call for a refill until Aug. 18. During the interruption, individuals currently receiving service, or those interested in quitting smoking, should see their primary care provider, call Health Connect Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, or visit STOP on the Net

Baby & Me Drop-In is cancelled Aug. 15 onward. Clients are encouraged to contact Health811 (Call 811 or TTY- 1-866-797-0007) or their primary care provider to discuss any feeding concerns.

Nurse-Family Partnership Program is cancelled. For interim support, clients are encouraged to contact the following:
For pregnancy follow up, referrals and monitoring:
primary care provider or walk-in clinic if no primary care provider
For urgent medical emergencies or situational crisis:
Local emergency department
Crisis Intervention Centre (Quinte Health) 613-969-7400, toll free 1-888-757-7766
For mental health support:
Call Open Line Open Mind 310-OPEN (6736) or visit

Breastfeeding consultations are cancelled effective Aug. 18. Clients are encouraged to contact Health811 (Call 811 or TTY- 1-866-797-0007) or contact their primary care provider if they have any breastfeeding concerns.

Immunization clinics are cancelled effective Aug. 18. Clients are encouraged to contact their family physicians or nurse practitioners (NP) for any necessary immunizations.

Sexual Health Clinics are cancelled effective immediately. If individuals have questions or normally get birth control from public health, including in school-based clinics, they are encouraged to call 613-966-5500, ext. 243. For immediate sexual health testing and/or treatment needs, individuals are encouraged to see their primary care providers or a walk-in clinic.

Services not listed above will still be operating but service delays are expected. All HPEPH offices will remain open to the public during regular hours.

Safer drug use supplies, including Naloxone, continue to be available at HPEPH offices in Belleville, Bancroft, and Quinte West, and from many participating community partners.

Water sample collection bottles continue to be available at all HPEPH offices. For drop-off locations, refer to the Public Water Sample Bottle Drop-off Locations document.

Dental clinics will continue to operate as usual. Updated notice of any service disruptions will be posted at



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