Two days after talks broke off between the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and public health nurses, the two sides will go back to the table on Friday.

The 86 nurse practitioners, registered practical nurses and public health nurses went on strike on March 8 to demand more money after rejecting the agency’s final contract offer.

“Today, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reached out to ONA Local 8 to get back to the table,” said Theresa Marentette, CEO and Chief Nursing Officer of Windsor Essex Health County Unit. “We are pleased that the union has accepted our invitation and look forward to meeting tomorrow to discuss a deal that is fair and reasonable for our public health nurses and our community. The health and wellbeing of our community continues to be our top priority.”

The nurses are represented by The Ontario Nurses Association, which represents more than 65,000 registered nurses and healthcare professionals.

The health unit disputes the claim from the union, arguing its nurses are paid a fair and competitive wage.

“Statistics show that Windsor-Essex County Health Unit nurses are compensated on par with the average nursing wage in public health units across Ontario," says Marentette. "In fact, their compensation beats that of public health nurses in regions like Toronto, Peel, Niagara and Middlesex-London. We have offered a wage increase of 3 per cent over three years which will ensure that our nurse wages are both fair and competitive.”

The ONA has noted the health unit returned hundreds of thousands of dollars in provincial funding to the government in 2018, but Marentette said the money was offered as a signing bonus and turned down.

The nurses have been working without a contract since March 31, 2018.