Manitoba Throne Speech opens door to further privatization

The Canadian Union of Public Employees – Manitoba is deeply concerned that the November 21 Speech from the Throne further opens the doorway to privatization of public services and programs, particularly services for children.

“The Pallister government has spent the past year throwing our health care system into chaos, and introducing privatization schemes like P3 Schools and Social Impact Bonds,” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“This government seems more concerned about their ideology than what is best for Manitobans, and today’s Throne Speech continues down that path.”

Since last year’s Throne Speech, the Pallister government has rolled out its plan to close Emergency Rooms, cut funding to health authorities province-wide, introduced Public-Private Partnership (P3s) schemes to schools in Winnipeg and Brandon, and pursued Social Impact Bonds – a way for the private sector to garner profit from public social services.

Today’s 2017 Throne Speech further reinforces the government’s plan to pursue the dangerous path of privatization, especially in services for children. Meanwhile the government has eliminated transparency and accountability legislation for P3s.

“This government is introducing a Social Impact Bond in our child welfare system, and P3s for our schools, but has never had any open discussions on if these models even work,” said Egan.

“We know there are serious concerns about Social Impact Bonds and P3s, but the government is pushing through anyways, it’s irresponsible and ideological.”

While CUPE recognizes the need for improving access to child care in Manitoba, the government’s plans to provide incentives to the private sector to build more private child care spots is not in the best interest of Manitoba families.

“We need more public spaces and facilities,” said Egan. “Going down the path of subsidizing more private for-profit day care is the wrong direction. The government should instead be supporting non-profit community and school based child care.”

In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 26,000 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.

CUPE to Pallister: Reverse cuts to bail program

The Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2140 is calling on Premier Pallister to reverse cuts to a residential bail program.

CUPE Local 2140 represents employees at The John Howard Society, including workers who will be losing their jobs as of December 1, 2017, due to provincial funding cuts.

“We are disappointed that the Pallister government has chosen once again to cut community services where they are most needed,” said Katherine Johnston, President of CUPE Local 2140. “The bail program provides important community supports, opportunities for employment, and safety.”

The cuts have resulted in the loss of 11 jobs, two thirds of CUPE 2140 members at The Society. The Union is working with The Society to lessen the impact, but it has been devastating to employees.

“These drastic cuts will leave a huge hole in services,” said Johnston. “We work closely with other agencies and services, and we believe this cut will hurt the community and the individuals who use the residence.  All of us at The John Howard Society work here because we care about our community and believe in restorative justice and second chances.”

Added Johnston: “Premier Pallister: Have a heart, reverse the cuts to the bail program!”

1919 Winnipeg General Strike Monument Unveiled

WINNIPEG – Today the City of Winnipeg unveiled a new monument commemorating the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the strike, where over 25,000 workers walked off the job in support of fair wages, and better working conditions.

“Remembering and honouring the struggles of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike is important to us as trade unionists and to the community as a whole” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “It is because of the sacrifices made by striking workers in 1919 that we are able to continue to organize as a movement and fight for our members”.

At 11:00 am on May 15, 1919, workers left their jobs and marched into the streets of Winnipeg, leading to one of the biggest labour actions Canada has ever seen. Strikers included both the private and public sectors, and ranged from garment workers to police officers. On June 21, 1919, the Royal North-West Mounted Police and hired union busters rode on horseback and fired into a crowd of thousands of workers, killing two and injuring countless others.

The new monument, designed by Monteyne Architecture is called The 1919 Marquee, and is installed at the corner of Lily Street and Market Avenue in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, an area that the strike took place. The project was led by a committee that included former CUPE National President Paul Moist.

“The greatest monument to the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike is the work we continue to do today as union activists,” said Egan. “The fight for fair wages and benefits, equity, and safe & healthy workplaces didn’t end in 1919, and we must never relent in the struggle ahead of us.”

CUPE Manitoba represents approximately 26,000 public sector workers in health care, municipalities, school divisions, energy, airlines, social services and childcare, post-secondary education, and more.

CUPE presents to the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs on Bill 24

CUPE Manitoba President Terry Egan and CUPE Local 500 President Gord Delbridge made presentations to the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs on Bill 24, The Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act which aims to eliminate The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act.

“When this government was elected, one of it’s key messages to the public was that it was going to improve transparency,” CUPE Manitoba President Terry Egan told the committee.

“Eliminating the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act is moving in the complete opposite direction”.

“I worked on the front-line in a Winnipeg school, its where I spent my entire career,” said Egan. “So this announcement came as a total shock to me. I wondered who on Broadway could come up with this backwards idea, and why”, referencing the Pallister government’s plans to build new schools in Manitoba under a P3 model while at the same time eliminating the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act.

CUPE 500 President Gord Delbridge provided the committee with numerous examples from across Canada where P3s have failed, and emphasized the importance of strong P3 accountability legislation.

“Rather than throwing out this legislation, we ask this government to instead turn its mind to improving The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act to ensure even more transparency and better oversight of P3’s from the beginning to the end of the end of P3 projects,” said Delbridge.

“While some may call this red tape – most Manitobans would call this common sense”.

Read CUPE Manitoba and CUPE Local 500’s presentations:

CUPE Manitoba P3 Speaking Notes
CUPE Local 500 Speaking Notes

Contact HEPP to oppose changes to the Healthcare Employees’ Pension Plan

All health care workers in Manitoba who are part of the Healthcare Employees’ Pension Plan (HEPP) have received or will be receiving a letter indicating that HEPP will be making changes to the plan.

CUPE is opposed to the changes to the plan.

It is CUPE’s national policy to oppose two-tier pensions and benefits.

The creation of a two-tier pension will create division and inequity between current and future plan members.

The changes will also force some members to delay or change their retirement plans.

We believe that HEPP is a healthy, well-funded plan, and that these changes are not necessary.

We encourage CUPE members to visit the HEPP website (hebmanitoba.ca), carefully review the letter you will be receiving from HEPP, and call HEPP if you have any questions about changes they are making to the plan.

CONTACT HEPP

In Winnipeg please call (204) 942-6591

Toll free: 1-888-842-4233.

Email: info@hebmanitoba.ca

EMAIL HEPP AND TELL THEM WHY YOU OPPOSE THE CHANGES!
You can either submit the pre-written email (click “read the petition”, you can amend it to write your own!)

I oppose changes to HEPP

To: Healthcare Employees Pension Plan

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146 signatures

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Two-tier pension benefits the wrong direction for health care workers: CUPE

WINNIPEG – The Canadian Union of Public Employees is speaking out against changes to the Healthcare Employees’ Pension Plan (HEPP) announced on October 17, 2017.

“The changes to the plan announced today may force some health care workers to delay or change their retirement plans, and creates an unnecessary division between existing plan members and the future generation of health care workers,” says Shannon McAteer CUPE’s Health Care Coordinator.

“Two-tier pension plans are unfair to future members of the plan, and disproportionately affect newcomer or younger members of the workforce who are just starting their careers in health care in Manitoba.”

The Health Care Employee Benefit Plans (HEB Manitoba) which administers HEPP announced their decision to eliminate all supplementary and bridge benefits for new members after January 1, 2018, creating a two-tier plan with reduced benefits for new employees, among other changes to the plan.

“Health care staff work tirelessly every single day to support the health and well-being of the people of Manitoba,” said McAteer. “A strong workplace pension plan like HEPP is critical in recruiting and retaining health care workers in Manitoba, and with so much uncertainty in health care these days its unfortunate that health care workers now have one more thing to worry about”.

CUPE issued a letter to HEB Manitoba in response to these changes and is calling for a meeting with HEB Manitoba to open discussions on the governance structure of the plan and how these decisions are made to ensure better transparency for CUPE members who are members of the plan.

CUPE members are encouraged to contact HEPP for more information on the changes.

We also have an email petition for members to fill out to express their opposition to HEPP’s changes.

School Support Workers Week – September 25 – 29

This week, CUPE is encouraging school divisions and the public to take time to recognize school support workers in Manitoba. The provincial government has proclaimed School Support Staff Recognition Week from September 25 to September 29, 2017.

“CUPE school support staff help make our schools a safe, clean, positive place of learning and development for students, families, and the wider community,” says Terry Egan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees – Manitoba, and a school custodian himself.

CUPE members in the education sector perform cleaning, custodial, maintenance, courier, mechanical, and utility work, provide clerical support to teachers and administrators, support learning and student inclusion and attendance in the classroom and the community, bus children and teachers to and from schools and on field trips, help keep school libraries relevant and organized, support learning through information technology systems, work to improve literacy, support food services in schools, and support fundraising, sports, extra-curricular and community activities.

“School support staff in Manitoba are critical members of the education team in our province,” said Egan. “We should all take a moment to thank them for their incredibly important contributions to our children’s education.”

CUPE is pleased to join the Province of Manitoba in recognizing the important work our 5,500 members perform in school divisions across the province during School Support Staff Recognition Week from Monday, September 25 to Friday, September 29.

CUPE health care members protest cuts in Manitoba

Health care workers lined the streets in front of Health Sciences Centre / CancerCare Manitoba in Winnipeg today to protest government cuts to health care.

“The government’s approach to health care has been confusing, hurtful, and has completely disregarded the needs of both patients and front-line health care workers,” said newly elected CUPE Local 204 President Debbie Boissonneault.

The Pallister government mandated that all Regional Health Authorities in Manitoba find millions in “savings”, which has resulted in the closure of Emergency Rooms, community health programs, policies that lead to staffing shortages, and direct cuts to support staff positions and hours.

The shift rescheduling process at Health Sciences Centre (HSC) has been pointing to significant job cuts and the reduction of full-time health care support staff to part-time work, which will lead to fewer hours of care for Manitoba patients.

CUPE health care members responded by taking their message to the streets with an info picket at HSC/CancerCare Manitoba on September 21.

“Front-line staff at HSC and CancerCare Manitoba are incredibly concerned not just for their jobs, but for the diminished quality of care that will result from cuts to positions and hours”, said Boissonneault. “We know the public stands with health care workers, we need the government to stand with us too and stop the reckless cuts”.

Pallister creating false choice with health care premium proposal

Today the Pallister government suggested that they may introduce a health care premium to Manitoba, imposing a new fee that would be allocated to the health care system.

“Pallister is creating a false choice when it comes to health care,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of the CUPE Provincial Health Care Council.

“Rather than the false choice between a new fee or cuts, the government needs to do a better job at making sure higher income earners and corporations are paying their fair share into the tax base that supports our health care system.”

The Pallister government has been reeling under growing public criticism of its cuts to health care across the province. Manitobans expect a government to prioritize investments in health care, especially with an aging population.

“Pallister’s health care cuts are reckless, and Manitobans are making it clear that these cuts must stop,” said Boissonneault. “Pallister’s plan for health care premiums is simply an attempt to divert attention away from his cuts, and Manitoban’s won’t fall for that trick.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 643,000 members.  In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 26,000 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.