Joint Statement: CUPE Manitoba, Inclusion Winnipeg, Inclusion Westman, Children’s Coalition: Keep Education Assistants and Support Staff working for our children

Manitoba – Workers and disability advocates are calling on School Divisions to keep Education Assistants (EAs) and other support staff on the working for our students while schools are suspended.

“Education Assistants are providing critical support to children with disabilities during the COVID-19 virus crisis,” said Janet Forbes from Inclusion Winnipeg.

“The COVID-19 virus puts children with disabilities at greater risk due to existing health conditions, reliance on outside support and disruptions to daily routines.”

“Families are more isolated than ever and there is so much work that needs to be done to support those children and their families who may not be used to instruction from home.”

As the union that represents 5,000 school support staff in twenty-four school divisions across Manitoba, CUPE is ready to work with School Divisions to help ensure there are no layoffs to Education Assistants and other support staff.

“CUPE has reached out to School Divisions to see how we can work together to help EAs either work remotely from home or find creative ways to support their students during this crisis,” said CUPE Manitoba President Abe Araya. “With so many students studying at home, we need a strong, fully-staffed education system to get these students the support they need.”

“It is important that all students have access to the supports they require to learn at home during this time,” said Amanda Hamm of Inclusion Westman. “We know that Education Assistants have a role to play in providing this needed support especially in terms of supporting students with additional needs. We are calling on schools to provide this consistent support to all students so they can continue their learning at home.”

In a letter to School Superintendents, the Education Minister suggested that “savings generated as a result of the closures of schools must be held in a separate account”.

It is CUPE’s position that this is not a time to generate savings, rather it’s a time to support staff and be creative. “School Divisions in Manitoba have already budgeted for their staff for the year, and those staff need to be focused on helping students succeed,” said Araya.

“Many students and their families face additional challenges working remotely, and addressing those challenges cannot happen without school support staff.”

This position is also endorsed by the Children’s Coalition, an advocacy organization for children with disabilities.

CUPE Manitoba represents approximately 5,000 education support staff in twenty-four school divisions across Manitoba, including EAs, custodians, maintenance and trades, secretaries, library techs, mechanics, bus drivers, international student support, school liaisons and more. Inclusion Winnipeg is a registered charity which, for 60 years, has been dedicated to making life better for children and adults living with intellectual disabilities.

Inclusion Westman is a not-for-profit organization committed to enriching the lives of people who live with an intellectual disability in the Westman region by promoting their full inclusion in the community. The work we do benefits not only the individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families, but the community in which they reside.

The Children’s Coalition is a network of organizations which exists to unite the voice of families in matters that have a direct impact on their supports and services. The Coalition is committed to working in partnership with community-based agencies and government departments including Family Services and Housing, Education, Citizenship and Youth, and Health, to achieve a coordinated network supporting the full inclusion in community life of children with disabilities and their families.

CUPE sends letters to over 150 Manitoba School Trustees, calling for support to school staff

CUPE Manitoba is calling on over a hundred School Trustees across the province to do the right thing, and keep school support staff working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, March 31st the Minister of Education informed School Divisions that schools will be suspended indefinitely, and that School Divisions are to decide how to ensure students and families get the supports they need.

On Wednesday, CUPE sent emails to over 150 individual School Trustees from across Manitoba, as well as to the Minister of Education, urging all decision-makers to ensure there are no layoffs in K-12 education.

“With so many students studying at home, we need a strong, fully-staffed education system to get these students the support they need,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“School Divisions in Manitoba have already budgeted for their staff for the year, and those staff need to be focused on helping students succeed.”

Laying off staff would also disproportionately harm students and families who need the extra resources.

“There are many newcomer and refugee children in our schools who have language barriers, cultural barriers, and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” said Araya, who came to Canada as a refugee youth himself and understands the value these support workers provide to families.

“We need our school liaisons and education assistants (EAs) working with our youth, and supporting families who have additional challenges at home.”

CUPE is also advocating to ensure school bus drivers continue to provide support to families.

“School bus drivers can play critical roles in helping deliver course materials to families, especially those who don’t have their own transportation,” said Araya.

“Our rural school bus drivers and EAs know the challenges families face when students are working remotely from different communities, and can certainly be invaluable resources to help rural families stay home during the pandemic.”

Letter to School Trustees (English)
Letter to School Trustees (French)
Letter to Minister of Education

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 700,000 members.  In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 37,000 members including 5,000 school support staff across 24 school divisions.

School support workers need to stay on payroll to support our kids

The union representing most K-12 educational staff in Manitoba schools is calling on the Manitoba government and School Divisions to keep all K-12 workers on the payroll during COVID-19.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced today that the schools across Manitoba will be suspended indefinitely, and that school support staff could be laid off.

“Education Assistants (EAs) still have work to do to support our students; custodians and trades still need to take care of our schools,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE and a school custodian himself.  “We need all hands on deck to support our students while they learn from home, and School Divisions need to do everything possible to keep EAs and support staff working for our young people.”

The Minister told reporters that each School Division is responsible for finding “value added” from support staff, and that it is up to the Divisions to decide whether or not to lay off employees.

Premier Jason Kenney recently made major cuts to the education system in Alberta as a result of school suspensions, moving money out of the education system to be used elsewhere, which was widely labeled as a “reckless” move by educators.

“School Divisions in Manitoba have already budgeted for their staff for the year, and that needs to be seen through,” said Araya. “School Divisions need to be creative in helping EAs support students through digital tools, and students with special needs, language barriers, and who face socio-economic challenges will need even more support than ever.”

School custodians, trades, and clerical staff still have work they can be doing to keep our schools maintained and operational for students and their families. Library techs can still be used as resources for teachers and families.

School bus drivers can also be tasked with delivering education materials, especially to families who may not have access to the internet.

“Any cuts to staffing will hurt our schools, and hurt our children’s education, especially now that so many students are facing challenging times learning from home,” said Araya.  “Students, parents, and teachers need to know that they have access to the supports they need to help students succeed.”

CUPE represents approximately 5,000 education support staff in school divisions across Manitoba, including EAs, custodians, maintenance and trades, secretaries, library techs, mechanics, bus drivers, international student support, school liaisons and more.

EI top-up plan needed for Manitoba workers – CUPE

CUPE Manitoba, the province’s largest union, is calling on the provincial government to ask employers to keep workers on the payroll over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and, where that is not possible, to assist employers with an Employment Insurance top up.

“We need emergency legislation that supports working Manitobans,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba. “We live in a world of widespread layoffs, the province needs to do something to help people.”

A Supplementary Unemployment Benefit Plan (SUBP) is a measure that can be established by an employer to top up employees’ EI benefits during a period of unemployment due to a temporary layoff. With this fund, workers eligible for EI can expect benefits approaching 100% of their income.

“While we acknowledge that access to EI has been improved by the federal government, laid off workers can still only receive 55% of their income,” said Araya. “That’s just not enough. The province needs to create a Supplementary Emergency EI top-up fund to assist employers in enhancing EI payments.”

CUPE believes that having workers across Manitoba surviving on only 55% of their regular income is going to cripple the economy today and in the future. Providing Supplementary Unemployment Benefits to Manitoba workers will prevent workers from being at risk of bankruptcy, will help renters pay the bills, and will keep families from depleting savings and investments.

“Manitoba families are waiting for this government to do something to protect the economy and their pocketbooks,” said Araya, about the plan. “Every day of delay puts families at risk of bankruptcy. The time to act is today.”

CUPE calls for Hazard Pay for Manitoba front-line workers during COVID-19

Manitoba’s largest union is calling on the Provincial Government to implement a “Hazard Pay” program for front-line workers who work in close contact with communities, individuals, and worksites at higher risk of COVID-19.

“Front-line public and non-profit sector workers are being asked to work in environments that put them at higher risk of contact with COVID-19. They are answering the call to serve our community, and are truly Manitoba’s heroes,” said Abe Araya, President of CUPE Manitoba in a letter to the Premier.

“CUPE believes that these front-line workers deserve our Province’s support by implementing “Hazard Pay” to recognize the new challenges they face on the job”.

On March 22nd, Sobeys launched the “Hero Pay Program” to recognize the value of the front-line grocery store workers at Sobeys, Safeway, and other private sector grocery stores. Sobeys “Hero Pay Program” offers an additional $2 per hour on hours worked over 20 hours a week, and a $50 per week bonus for all workers. Loblaws had previously announced a similar $2/hour hazard pay increase for their employees, also retroactive to March 8, 2020.

“I believe Manitobans have developed a stronger appreciation for our home care workers, our child care workers, our front-line health workers, our housekeepers, custodians, maintenance, cleaners, and more,” said Araya. “The Provincial Government should support these workers and others on the front-line too”.

CUPE believes a Hazard Pay package can and should be developed for Manitoba’s front-line public sector workers, and those who work on the front line in the non-profit sector who are also putting themselves at risk every single day for our community.

Should the government declare any private sector workers as “essential services” during the COVID-19 pandemic, those workers should also be entitled to hazard pay.

CUPE Manitoba also launched an online letter-writing campaign to the Premier calling for fourteen (14) paid sick days for all Manitoba workers during COVID-19. Almost 1,000 letters were sent to the Premier over the weekend.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 700,000 members. In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 37,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

COVID-19 Q&A for Health Care Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic changes every day.
CUPE health care members are heroes, on the front-line protecting our community.
CUPE continues to fight for better protections for you. Your health, safety, compensation, and job security are our top priorities.

Here are some basic Q&As for CUPE health care workers.

*as of March 20, 2020


Q. Do I have to work still
A. Yes, if you are healthy, able and have not been told to self-isolate/self-quarantine please report to work as normal. Unless the Employer informs you otherwise.

Q. Do I have to self-isolate or self-quarantine?
A.
Please go to this link: https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/index.html


Q. What if I am deemed essential?
A. You will attend work as always and follow any protocols put in place by the Employer. Including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Q. What if I am not deemed “essential”?
A. We are waiting for the Employer to determine if they will be sending non-essential staff home and what that will look like. We are not clear on how the Employer is determining who is essential yet. Questions we do not have answered yet are:  Will you get paid?  Will you have to work from home?

Q. Does the Employer have to provide personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks?
A. Yes, the Employer must provide required PPE. CUPE has dealt with sites that have failed to do so.   If this equipment is not available, please advise your CUPE rep.

Q. What if the client/patient has tested positive or is displaying symptoms?
A. Follow the universal precaution guidelines. Wear gloves and mask.  Wash your hands when you enter and leave their residence/room.  Do not touch the doorknobs or surfaces as much as possible.

Q. What if my co-worker may have been exposed?
A.
Maintain social distancing as much as possible. Cleaning protocols should have been increased.  Follow the universal precaution guidelines.  Do not touch the doorknobs or surfaces as much as possible.

Q. If I have to self-isolate or self-quarantine how will I get paid?
A.
You can use sick time first. Then you can use your vacation, overtime (OT), STAT banks to cover your time away.  If you do not have any of those available, you can take an unpaid Leave of Absence (LOA) and apply for Employment Insurance (EI).  If you do take an unpaid LOA, you will need to prepay your benefits if you wish to continue coverage.  CUPE is working on having this time covered by the Employer directly and not come from your banks.

Q. What if I have to be away from work because of child care issues?
A.
You can use your vacation, OT, STAT banks to cover your time away. If you do not have any of those available, you can take an unpaid LOA and apply for EI.  If you do take an unpaid LOA you will need to prepay your benefits if you wish to continue coverage.  CUPE is working on having this time covered by the Employer directly and not come from your banks.  If you are deemed essential and require child care there is a form to fill out from the Employer.

The federal government has announced assistance for employees who require income assistance.  Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks.  This flat-payment benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:  “Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.”

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html

Q. Can I be mandated to work?
A.
In this COVID 19 crisis you can be mandated to work if staffing levels are affected because of
COVID-19. The Employer must take into account child care, elder care, etc.  They cannot mandate you to work if it is not COVID-19 related.

Q. Can I be transferred to other site?
A. In this COVID 19 crisis you can be asked to voluntarily work at other sites. You would be covered by your current collective agreement, continue to accrue seniority at your site, be covered by benefits and Workers Compensation (WCB) and be reimbursed for parking, mileage and receive a meal allowance.  There is also some financial compensation if you are reassigned to another site.  If no one volunteers or staffing levels get dangerously low at a site, you can be assigned to work at another site.
See document in link:  “MOA_Redeployment_of_Staff_COVID-19

Q. What if Winnipeg Transit stops running?
A.
If you use the bus to get to work and services are stopped, talk to your manager/supervisor about what to do.

OTHER RESOURCES

CUPE Backgrounder on Federal Income Supports:
https://cupe.ca/cupe-backgrounder-federal-income-support-announcements

 

SMc:cbc/cope 491
20-Mar-20
1:44 pm

Government putting workers and patients at risk with changes to post-travel self-quarantine

WINNIPEG – The Provincial Government’s COVID-19 Update #19 issued on March 18th directs
employees who have arrived from international travel since March 15th to report to work. This is a
significant change from previous directions that all Manitobans returning from international travel
must self-quarantine.

This raises concerns because COVID-19 symptoms may not present themselves until 2 to 14
days after contact.

CUPE believes this is putting patients and staff at risk by forcing potentially exposed individuals
into environments where there is the potential to spread the virus.

CUPE is aware of this occurring in both personal care homes and hospitals, and the directive
could also apply to home care, putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk of infection.

CUPE issued a letter to the health authorities, demanding all health authorities do the following:

• Offer a fully paid leave for staff returning from international travel for the full fourteen (14)
day self-quarantine period.
• Never order a potentially exposed staff member into work during the self-quarantine
period.
• Fully pay all employees – including home care workers – for all illnesses, quarantines and
isolations without a waiting period.

If government is worried about lack of staffing, they shouldn’t potentially make matters worse by
asking employees returning from international travel to come to work. This is indicative of a
health care system that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, was already short staffed – especially
after the provincial government’s restructuring and bumping of positions.

During this pandemic Manitoba families are pulling together to self-quarantine and take care of
each other – health authorities need to lead by example instead of putting people at risk.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than
700,000 members. In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 37,000 members working in
health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services,
child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

Mental health supports in Manitoba during COVID-19

All Manitobans, including CUPE members and their families may experience higher levels of anxiety and may need extra support or accommodations.  That is OK.  We encourage members to use the resources available to them.

No matter where you work: on the front-lines of health care, in a crown corporation, schools, day cares, your municipality, university, social services, the private sector, are out of work, or working from home, it’s ok to ask for help.

  • If workers need support, please contact your Employee Assistance Programs (if your workplace offers one).
  • The Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support line is 1-877-435-7170.
  • Members and their families can contact 211 or visit 211.ca for community resources.
  • During this time people may experience a difficult situation at home. While stress does not cause domestic violence there may be an increase of incidents/volatility.
  • People in Manitoba needing to access shelters or speak with someone about their relationship can call 1-877-977-0007. Call 911 if someone is in imminent danger. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.mb.ca/stoptheviolence/know_someone.html
  • Members can access supports through the Klinic crisis lines:

Call:                204-786-8686
Toll-free:         1-888-322-3019
There is also a crisis chat line at:  www.supportline.ca

PROVINCE-WIDE CRISIS LINES

Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line:                 1-877-435-7170 (1-877-HELP170)
Klinic Crisis Line:                                                                1-888-322-3019 or 204-786-8686 or TTY: 204-784-4097

Health Links-Info Santé:                                                     1-888-315-9257 or 204-788-8200
Klinic Sexual Assault Crisis Line:                                      1-888-292-7565 or 204-786-8631
Manitoba Farm & Rural Support Services                     1-866-367-3276 or 204-571-4180

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line:     1‑855‑242-3310

REGIONAL CRISIS SUPPORTS

WINNIPEG
Winnipeg Mobile Crisis Service:    204-940-1781
Crisis Stabilization Unit:                 204-940-3633, press #2

INTERLAKE-EASTERN REGIONAL HEALTH AUTHORITY
24-hour Crisis Line:                         1-866-427-8628 or 204-482-5419
Mobile Crisis Services:                     1-877-499-8770 or 204-482-5376
Crisis Stabilization Unit:                 1-888-482-5361 or 204-482-5361

NORTHERN HEALTH REGION
Hope North Crisis Response:          204-778-9977

PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN HEALTH – South District
Adult Crisis Line:
                             1-888-379-7699
Crisis Stabilization Unit:                 1-855-222-6011 or 204-727-2555
Mobile Crisis Services:                     204-725-4411

PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN HEALTH – North District (former Parkland)
Adult and Youth Crisis Line:         
1-866-332-3030

SOUTHERN HEALTH-SANTÉ SUD
East of Red River – Crisis Response Services/Warm Call line:   1-888-617-7715
West of Red River – Crisis Response Line:                                   1-866-588-1697
Crisis Stabilization Unit:                                                                
1-855-320-1096

We encourage CUPE leaders to post these resources in your staff rooms.

We also encourage all members to be kind, check-in with each other, and have patience. Everyone experiences stress in different ways, but we all need our friends and co-workers at our side.

CUPE calls for full supports for K-12 school support staff amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Provincial Government announced it would suspend all publicly funded schools in Manitoba for three weeks beginning March 23, and ending April 6. This measure is being taken to help slow the spread of the virus COVID-19 in Manitoba.

On Friday, March 13 CUPE reached out to the Minister of Education’s office to express our concerns.

School Divisions have taken different approaches to how staff will be handled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

School staff in most divisions have been asked to report to work during the closures. On March 16, CUPE expressed our concerns around school bus drivers being asked to perform medical assessments on students in one Division.

CUPE believes all school support staff deserve full protections in the case of school suspensions or closures.

CUPE’s is asking School Divisions to ensure the following:

Education Assistants, clerical, library techs and other non-teaching employees, including liaisons, IT, International Student Support, central office staff, crossing guards, child support workers etc.

  • EAs and other non-teaching employees should not perform the duties of custodians, cleaners, or other duties outside of their bargaining unit.
  • All staff should be provided with appropriate training related to their duties, as well as precautions related to COVID-19, reviewed by the union.
  • Where necessary, child-care shall be provided at no cost for school division employees. If this is not available, parents of children needing care shall be allowed to stay home with full wage continuance, benefits, pension contributions, vacation accumulation, and any other regular form of compensation.
  • Should schools cease operations entirely, it is CUPE’s position that School Divisions provide full wage continuance, as well as benefits, pension contributions, vacation accumulation etc., and any other regular form of compensation for affected members.

 Custodians, maintenance, trades, painters etc.

  • Custodians, maintenance, trades, painters etc. should not perform duties outside the work of their bargaining unit.
  • All staff should be provided with appropriate training related to their duties, as well as precautions related to COVID-19, reviewed by the union.
  • Where necessary, child-care shall be provided at no cost for school division employees. If this is not available, parents of children needing care shall be allowed to stay home with full wage continuance, benefits, pension contributions, vacation accumulation, and any other regular form of compensation.
  • Should schools cease operations entirely, it is CUPE’s position that School Divisions provide full wage continuance, as well as benefits, pension contributions, vacation accumulation etc. for affected members.

Bus drivers, mechanics etc.

  • Bus drivers and mechanics should not perform duties outside the work of their bargaining unit.
  • All staff should be provided with appropriate training related to their duties, as well as precautions related to COVID-19, reviewed by the union.
  • Where necessary, child-care shall be provided at no cost for school division employees. If this is not available, parents of children needing care shall be allowed to stay home with full wage continuance, benefits, pension contributions, vacation accumulation, and any other regular form of compensation.
  • Should schools or bus routes cease operations entirely, it is CUPE’s position that School Divisions provide full wage continuance, as well as benefits, pension contributions, vacation accumulation etc., and any other regular form of compensation for affected members.

CUPE will also utilize the tools that we have – our collective agreement and layoff language – if employers are unable to continue to pay regular wages.

CUPE recognizes that these are difficult circumstances, and we are prepared to discuss with School Divisions how to best get through them. However, we also have rights and collective agreements which need to be respected and enforced.

With that said, CUPE takes the position that employees should not be doing the work of members of other bargaining units to which they are not a member except in the following circumstances:

  • It has been agreed to, in writing, by the impacted bargaining units;
  • Employees have been provided with the full training and education to do the assigned task in a manner which does not jeopardize the health and safety of themselves or others;
  • Employees have been provided with all appropriate levels of safety gear, including gloves and masks, and where appropriate other personal protective equipment;
  • If an employee refuses to perform duties for health or safety reasons, all efforts should be made to accommodate the employee to another duty.

CUPE also echoes the principles outlined by the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, and expect equal consideration is afforded to support staff.

  1. If schools are closed, status of employment is working from home – salary and benefits continue.
  2. If classes are suspended (no students) members will report to work as assigned by their school divisions (note our above concerns on duties assigned) – salary and benefits continue.
  3. If a member is quarantined (not sick): status of employment is on an ‘administrative (paid) leave’ – salary and benefits continue.
  4. If a member is quarantines (sick): sick leave provisions apply.
  5. If a member is quarantined (sick) and sick leave provisions run out: in the case of a medically disabling condition, short-term and long-term benefits apply.
  6. If the employer directs the employee to stay at home and the employee is not sick then the employer shall pay the employee as if they are working from home.

CUPE echoes the Manitoba Teachers Society’s call for schools to be suspended as soon as possible.

Joint Health and Safety Committees

CUPE is asking all employers and locals to work with their Joint Health and Safety Committees to review any pandemic plan or develop one if there is not one already in place. This plan will help to provide direction where there is uncertainty for employees and families.

Below are points should be included in the plan:

  • A statement that encourages workers to stay home if they have symptoms of infection.
  • The identification of decision makers within the organization and key personnel who manage the plan and monitor absence rates.
  • Measures and strategies to respond to staff shortages.
  • The identification of how the employer will screen visitors and clients for the disease before they access the workplace.
  • The contingency plan in the event of a public transit shutdown.
  • Personal protective equipment (individual requirements, training, and stockpile).
  • The role of the joint health and safety committee or health and safety representative.
  • Financial compensation for those who are required to quarantine, self isolate or required to take care of family members, if not covered in the collective agreement.
  • Mental health support for grieving workers or those suffering from anxiety or trauma.
  • Levels of increased environment/custodial cleaning practices and routines.
  • The identification of how the employer will communicate with the Public Health Unit, if required.

CUPE will continue to monitor the situation as it changes, and will protect the rights or our members.

CUPE represents over 5,000 K-12 school support staff including EAs, library techs, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance, liaisions and others.

If you are experiencing symptoms and recently traveled outside Canada or you were exposed to someone who has COVID-19, it is advised that you stay home and contact Health Links (204-788-8200) or toll-free at 1-888-315-9257) for instructions.

Shared Health also offers an online self-screening tool: https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/screening-tool/

For the latest news visit:

Government of Canada:  https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html

Government of Manitoba:  https://www.gov.mb.ca/health/coronavirus/
Shared Health
(including resources for health care staff):  https://sharedhealthmb.ca/health-providers/coronavirus-resources/
Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits:
www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html