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Two County councillors resign board of health in protest of its handling of strikes

John Hirsch

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health will be seeing two resignations of Prince Edward County councillors from their board.

Councillors John Hirsch and Kate MacNaughton announced at council Tuesday night they were resigning.

“I can no longer countenance the board’s approach to the ongoing strikes, of both the ONA nurses and the CUPE employees,” stated Hirsch. “And therefore I am announcing my intent to resign from the board. My letter was sent moments ago.”

The administration and operations of Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) are overseen by an autonomous board of health. Members include elected officials from the four municipalities of Belleville, Quinte West, Hastings County, and Prince Edward County. In addition, local representatives are appointed by the province of Ontario.

Public health is effectively shut down, Hirsch said, noting the 62 non-nursing workers and 50 nurses on strike deliver critical health programs.

“This has had a negative impact on many members of our communities, unable to access vital services and care,” said Hirsch. “A new and more transparent approach needs to be taken 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.”

Hirsch stated he’s not a quitter but felt “this is the only way I can raise attention to the issues in our board of health. I urge the board to return to real bargaining as soon as possible.”

Kate MacNaughton

Councillor MacNaughton, who joined the meeting virtually, stated she will join Hirsch in announcing her intention to retire.

“I was thinking to stay on to advocate for good, transparent and fair minded practice but I don’t see any benefit that can be derived by my presence with Hastings Prince Edward Public Health so with regret, I also announce that I intend to resign.”

HPEPH offices in Picton, Quinte West and Bancroft are closed and the Belleville office is closed except for select services for pickup or by appointment only.

The frontline CUPE public health workers that joined the nurses 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.


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  1. Teena says:

    I suspect it was the various governments over the years saying, during their wonderful election campaigns, that “Hey! We can cut your taxes!”, that got us into this mess in the first place. Obviously neglecting to point out (to those who weren’t paying attention) that this will come at a great cost to all of us over the years. But, gee, our taxes were lowered so who cared, eh?

  2. Gary says:

    The Board only has so much funds to offer. Above those demands come back to the taxpayer. Not agreeing with this mess but pointing out the $$ come from us,

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