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Thunder Bay, Ont. The union representing 30 social service and mental health workers at North of Superior Programs (NOSP) has agreed to resume mediation talks, hoping to resolve the 21-week old strike that has deprived north-western Ontario communities of essential social and mental health services. Both sides in the dispute are to resume negotiations, with the help of a provincial mediator, on Wednesday, November 17th.

We hope management will take this opportunity to resolve this crisis that has gone on far too long, said Diane Atkinson, a social worker and spokesperson for Local 3253 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Beginning now and into the holiday season, our services are even more in demand and so many people who rely on our services have been waiting since June.

This may be our last opportunity to settle this strike before the government is forced to step in, says CUPE national representative Dan Pike. We call on the board of directors and NOSP management to make a fair and earnest attempt to resolve this dispute before its too late.

Last week, the union took out ads in local papers calling on the Ontario government to take over control of the service, after the board of directors failed to achieve quorum at a meeting to look at ways of ending the strike. In their ad, the union invited members of the public to contact provincial politicians and urge them to do whatever it takes to end the crisis.

Our ads generated a strong response from members of the communities we serve, said Atkinson. Petitions have started going around urging the provincial government to step in. So many people in our communities are suffering because they cant get the services they need.

On strike since June 26th, the workers normally offer mental health, addiction counselling and integrated services for children in communities along the north shore of Lake Superior, from Nipigon to Manitouwadge, including Geraldton, Longlac and Nakina.

The union will do everything possible to reach a settlement on Wednesday but we need to see that same will across the table, said Pike. Its time for management to take a hard look at where this is going and do whats necessary to restore these essential services.

For further information, please contact:

Dan Pike
CUPE National Rep.
613-293-3535 (cell)

Diane Atkinson
CUPE 3253 Spokesperson
807-229-7933 (cell)

Robert Lamoureux
CUPE Communications