Use of temp agency key issue as nurses take job action during contract talks

Two nurses

Nurses in Northumberland and across Ontario took to the streets Thursday to draw attention to issues related to ongoing contract negotiations.

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Currently, nurses from across Ontario are negotiating a new contract. This includes nurses at Northumberland Hills Hospital and Campbellford Memorial Hospital. Exhausted from the pressures of getting through the pandemic, understaffing, and a wage cap imposed by the provincial government, many are upset.

One key issue is the use of agency nurses. These are temporary, contracted positions used to fill in during staff shortages.

Since July 2022, Northumberland Hills Hospital has used agency nurses, according to a written statement from the hospital.

Over the Christmas holidays, the equivalent of four full-time registered nurses was hired for a four-month contract. Up until then, the nurses were brought in only temporarily. Usually, it is between four and eight nurses from the agency. There are a total of 122 full and part-time nursing staff at NHH.

The hospital admits it pays these nurses more than its current nursing staff.

It argues this allows it to keep beds and services operating rather than having them down.

The nurses are not taking this lying down. Over the following days and weeks, they intend to show their anger and frustration publicly. That is according to the Ontario Nurses’ Association Interim President Bernie Robinson. She is on today’s show and will discuss what her members here in Northumberland and across Ontario want.

Originally aired: February 24, 2023

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