The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is outraged at the decision of the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit to cut two Public Health Nurses and its Nurse Practitioner, even as it increases its management positions.

The health unit cites the funding cut by the provincial government as the reason for the cut.

“Rather than follow the excellent example of Peterborough Health Unit, which increased the municipality’s share of funding in order to keep its community members healthy and safe, Haldimand-Norfolk decided it would rather spend its budget on a new management position and on promoting a manager to a director, with a corresponding increase in pay,” says ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN.

 “It did so even as it cut front-line nurses who monitor for and prevent infectious disease outbreaks and provide services to vulnerable people who lack access to family physicians.” 

“This health unit and the community will have fewer services at a time when the world – and especially this province – is increasingly aware of the vital importance of a strong public health system,” she says. 

“Public health is at the forefront of ensuring healthy populations, and preventing illness and injury.”

Cutting the Public Health Nurses, Nurse Practitioner and eliminating the sexual health program leaves the community at higher risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

ONA is concerned that this Board of Health has no plan in place to assist those who used the services and now need other health-care providers, and notes that there is a shortage of available family doctors in Haldimand-Norfolk.

The health unit has also cut all of its Quit Smoking Clinics. 

Haldimand-Norfolk’s most vulnerable residents, who live in poverty, may suffer from mental health illness, lack supports and have no access to a family doctor, will now be left without assistance.

“ONA has been told that this health unit has had to turn away those who need care and do not have a family doctor,” says McKenna. “This is unacceptable. Public health is the foundation of our health-care system. The politicians who make these decisions have sacrificed the health and wellness of their residents to balance the budget. We urge this community to speak up against the cuts.”

ONA is the union representing more than 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, as well as more than 18,000 nursing student affiliates, providing care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, the community, clinics and industry.