Workers Compensation Board staff issue strike deadline

Staff at the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) have provided the WCB with five working days’ notice that unless the WCB offers a fair deal, they will officially be on strike.

“Staff at the WCB have been without a new contract for over two years,” said Bob Sawchyn, President of CUPE Local 1063 representing approximately 450 staff at the WCB. “It is unacceptable that our employer continues to drag its feet and refuses to offer a fair deal that works for workers–we have reached an impasse at the table and are now in a strike position.”

Strike action will begin on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, unless the employer returns to the table with a deal that is acceptable to workers.

The Workers Compensation Board is an arms-length independent agency of the provincial government and has achieved year-end surpluses in recent years that have resulted in over $277 million in refunds back to employers. Yet the staff, who were subjected to the Pallister/Stefanson wage freeze in the last round of negotiations cannot accept another deal that leaves them behind.

“The hardworking staff at the WCB have helped achieve surpluses year after year, and continue to focus diligently to help Manitoba workers,” emphasized Sawchyn. “Never in our over fifty-year history with the WCB has CUPE ever had to commence strike action, but we are ready because all workers deserve better.”

CUPE 1063 provided a five-day strike notice on Monday, March 13. Strike action will include WCB staff in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson.

In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 37,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, home care, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries, and family emergency services.

International Women’s Day 2023

International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world on March 8.

Across the country and in Manitoba, CUPE members will be participating in community events to honour the accomplishments of women, in all their diversity, and to reaffirm our commitment to gender equality. This day also marks a call to action to end gender based violence in our community and in the workplace.

It is also an opportunity to celebrate the individuals and groups who have struggled to create a society that promotes diversity, tolerance, safety, social justice and equality across our province.

Take Action: Not one step back

  • Amplify the Canadian Labour Congress’s Future of Care Campaign and tell your MP to value care work.
  • Take steps to implement CUPE’s Anti-Racism Strategy in your local.

Again this year, CUPE members and women around the world have a very clear message: “Not One Step Back.” And we commit to regaining ground on justice for all women.

CUPE Manitoba joins with CUPE National, and the Canadian labour movement in wishing you a happy, strong, and meaningful International Women’s Day!

Check out these additional resources:

CUPE’s Safe Union Spaces Working Group.
CUPE’s new Stop Workplace Sexual Violence guide and pamphlet to raise awareness, support survivors and challenge sexual violence.
Campaign resources on child care and health care.
Bargaining tools on domestic violence, harassment and other gender issues.
CUPE violence prevention kit.
Canadian Labour Congress #donewaiting campaign.
Campaign led by migrant workers at the Caregivers’ Action Centre.
Global campaigns on gender-based violence at work and gender equality.

Spread the word:

Manitobans won’t be bought by Stefanson’s budget – CUPE Manitoba

WINNIPEG, TREATY 1 – Manitoba’s largest union is not convinced that Premier Heather Stefanson’s provincial budget is anything more than an attempt to bury the harm the conservatives have caused to public services in Manitoba.

“After two terms of active attacks on public services, the Conservatives think that they can buy themselves the next election,” said Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Manitobans won’t be fooled or bought, and the clock is ticking down for Stefanson’s PCs.”

It is no secret that the Progressive Conservative government has spent years eroding our public health care system, underfunding our education system, and neglecting the social service and child care workers who support those in need most.

“The damage that Stefanson’s government has done to our public services isn’t going away because of an election-year budget,” emphasized McKay. “Manitoba workers have struggled under this government’s ideological agenda, and the only way forward is for Manitobans to vote them out.”

McKay also expressed concern that this election-year budget offered no real long-term commitment to improving public services and supporting front-line workers in the years to come, especially with the rising costs associated with inflation. Instead, the provincial conservatives are taking the billion in new federal dollars that are intended for public services, and spending it on tax cuts to buy votes.

“People are struggling across Manitoba to make ends meet, and this government has spent its time in office cutting health care, privatizing services, and failing to meet the needs of our schools and universities,” said McKay. “The government tried to freeze workers’ wages and push Manitobans further behind–how can anyone trust them to provide real support that keeps up?”

CUPE Manitoba believes the only way to improve Manitoba beyond the government’s cynical 2023 budget is to vote for the Manitoba NDP in October.

“There is only one clear path forward to undoing the harm caused by the Pallister and Stefanson governments, and that is to vote them out and elect a government that actually cares about our public services and the workers who provide them.”

In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 37,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, home care, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries, and family emergency services.

You can access the full Manitoba Budget here.

Black History Month in Manitoba

As Black History Month 2023 comes to an end, I Karen Brown – CUPE Manitoba’s elected Representative for Racialized Workers – want to thank all the volunteers and organizations that work to make this short month a time of great celebration   and learning, filled with music, great food and company. With the Youth Symposium and Debate, basketball clinic, history lessons with crafts and music and all the other opportunities to share, teach and learn it has truly been another great month. Thank you all.

Those of you who missed activities you can check out the Black History Month (BHM) website at or the cooking classes with Chef Rob Thomas on YouTube! Past years’ classes are also accessible.

Recognizing History, Celebrating Black Achievement

These celebrations are so very important, but so is understanding why BHM even exists. Unfortunately, history classes and books rarely talk about the accomplishments and contributions Black people have made to our local communities or the world at large. The books and discussions have historically glossed over the fact Canadians were involved in the enslavement and ownership of peoples from many African nations and it was not until 1834 that legislation was passed to abolish slavery (less than 200 years ago).

This year in celebration of Black History, CUPE recognized and highlighted Dr. Jill Brown, Ph.D, a Black, queer MPP in Ontario. She is the first Black, queer person to be elected in Ontario and reportedly in Canada. She has been a strong voice for the constituents that elected her on social justice issues and has introduced many pieces of legislation to further enshrine the rights and liberties of all. Find out more about her here:

The Canadian Mint celebrated BHM by commemorating the No. 2 Construction Battalion. Prior to 1916, Black men could not volunteer to serve their country in the forces in Canada. In 2022 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau formally apologized for the racist policies and the failure to recognize, honour and commemorate the Battalion that were denied dignity in life and in the death. Hear the apology to their descendants here:

And on January 30th of this year, Canada Post celebrated Chloe Cooley, an enslaved woman living in Upper Canada in the late 18th century. She tried to escape enslavement, and her act of resistance when caught on March 14, 1793 led to legislation that would change enslavement in Canada. Find more here:

In 2008 Senator Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate in Canada introduced the motion to recognize the contributions of Black Canadians and it received unanimous approval. Learn more about him here:

As with so many celebrations and recognitions, the list of Black people who helped form Canada in so many ways is endless and going forward it will hopefully be in the history books and celebrated and recognized not just in February but all year long.

Taking Anti-Racist Action

In order to accomplish equitable representation and recognition we must all take steps to end the anti-Black racism and white supremacy models that prevent, repress and oppress.

CUPE National adopted its Anti-Racism Strategy at convention in 2021. It features 10 strong goals, and timelines for reporting were developed after consultations with Black, Indigenous and racialized members. You can read it here:

Your Local can help achieve these goals-be prepared to participate in an equity audit, track grievances and complaints that involve racism, be sure BIPOC folks are represented and have full voice at every level and celebrate the accomplishments of Black, Indigenous and racialized members. You can support their advancement with employment equity plans, using an anti-racist lens to review all policies and procedures in your workplace and Local.

I was elected as the first Diversity Representative for racialized members on the CUPE MB executive in 2020 and re-elected in 2022. I want to hear from and support racialized members so I can continue to advocate for change and promote processes that are transparent, equitable and recognize the need to be progressive and fluid.

So, take the time to celebrate in February and then roll up your sleeves to keep the work alive and moving forward.

CUPE MB President Gina McKay Calls for Better K-12 Education Funding and Supports

CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay was interviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press and CTV News this week, advocating for better K-12 Education funding, training, and staffing to address violence in schools.

McKay said CUPE continues to advocate for additional public dollars for the K-12 system so all schools are adequately staffed with EAs. These workers are facing growing and increasingly complex workloads as they support students recovering from COVID-19-related disruptions and anxieties while class sizes climb, she said. […]

Local leaders from the Canadian Union of Public Employees, whose membership include roughly 6,000 school support staff employed across more than 25 public boards in Manitoba, have been meeting to discuss the growing issue of workplace violence in recent months.

“These are systemic issues; it’s nothing new,” said Gina McKay, president of CUPE Manitoba.

“We’ve heard about physical violence in the workplace — biting, kicking, verbal abuse and worse, and we also look to some of the research that’s coming out across Canada.”

Notice: Standing Committee Meetings & Elections

                                                                                    See updates above (click to enlarge)
The first full Meetings of CUPE Manitoba’s Standing Committees (Issues-based committees only) have been scheduled in January. These meetings have been scheduled by staff committee liaisons in coordination with the members who participated in the committee welcome meetings in November.

We strongly encourage Local Affiliates and members to circulate, share, and post this notice in order to recruit and promote the renewal of these important Standing Committees in Manitoba.

At these meetings, participants will elect their Committee chairs and co-chairs and adopt their Terms of Reference. In accordance with CUPE Manitoba’s Bylaws & Policies, at least 30 days notice is being provided to Affiliates for these Standing Committee meetings and elections.

All Meetings will take place on Zoom (online)

Young Members – January 15th – 7:00 PM

Indigenous Council – January 19th – 6:30 PM

Human Rights, Women’s & Gender Rights, 2SLGBTQI+, Racialized, Disabilities – January 23rd – 5:00 PM

Political Action & Contracting Out – January 24th – 6:30 PM

Charitable Works – January 30th – 5:00 PM

Global Justice – January 31st – 5:00 PM

Safer Spaces – February 6th – 5:00 PM

*** Date for Health & Safety Committee meeting has not been finalized and will be provided when scheduled

To register, members should contact their Local President to become a delegate and email with the committee name in subject line.

Website Launch: We Work for Manitoba

CUPE Manitoba has launched a new website – We Work for Manitoba –  to host CUPE’s public campaigns in Manitoba. This website does not replace the existing CUPE Manitoba website, which will continue to serve as the website for Local resources, news, and updates.

The new website platform has been launched with two new campaign petitions to government:



Please share the campaigns and the website among your membership and help us promote them on social media!

Sponsored ads are being used to promote these campaigns on Facebook. In the new year, billboards, radio ads, and digital video will launch.



As Paul Moist reminded us at the Solidarity Conference in Brandon this week, there are many policies and initiatives that can’t be won at the bargaining table. Many things that we need in Manitoba can only be attained through coordinated political action outside our workplaces. This is why CUPE is hosting the Prairie Political Action Summit in Calgary, January 25th – 28th. Let’s get as many CUPE activists from Manitoba at this Summit as we can as we head into a big election year in Manitoba.

Ontario Education Workers Serve Five Days’ Strike Notice

On November 16, 2022, CUPE’s Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) central bargaining committee, representing 55,000 frontline education workers, provided 5 days notice of a potential province-wide strike.

The School Boards Collective Bargaining Act requires that workers employed by school boards give five days’ notice before beginning a job action. The November 16th notice from education workers means a strike is possible starting on Monday, November 21st if no deal is reached.

While OSBCU has indicated that they have reached a middle ground with the Ford government and the Council of Trustees’ Associations (CTA) on wages, the government has refused to commit to invest in the services that students need, and parents expect.

“From the beginning, we’ve been focused on improved jobs for education workers and improved services for students. For us, there is no one without the other,” said Laura Walton, educational assistant, and president of CUPE-OSBCU. “It’s incredibly disappointing that the Ford government categorically refused to put money on the table to give students the type of learning environment they need.”

If a deal is not reached, and Ontario education workers do start strike action as early as Monday, November 21st, it will be the second time that Ontario education workers have been forced to walk off the job this month.

Provincial CUPE leaders including CUPE MB President Gina McKay show their support


On November 4, 2022, CUPE education workers across Ontario walked off the job in protest of Bill 28 – the Ford Conservative government’s legislation that stripped CUPE education workers of the right to strike and collectively bargain.

Courts have repeatedly held that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides citizens with the right to free and fair collective bargaining and that governments cannot use their legislative power to remove those rights. The Ford government’s legislation invoked the Notwithstanding Clause of the Charter, a seldom-used provision designed for situations of competing rights or national emergencies, to pre-emptively deny workers their fundamental rights.

The broader labour movement quickly rallied behind CUPE in the fight against this encroachment of our fundamental rights. OPSEU education workers also walked out with CUPE in protest of the legislation. Labour leaders from across the country immediately began organizing a response to turn up the heat on the Ford government and were prepared to announce their plans on the morning of November 7th when Doug Ford, facing a united Labour movement and an angry public, held an emergency press conference to announce he would rescind Bill 28 and return to the bargaining table in exchange for CUPE returning to work.

CUPE accepted Ford’s offer and returned to work on November 8th. On November 14th Ford’s government officially repealed Bill 28.

Quick Facts:

Education workers are fighting for guarantees of:

  • enough educational assistants so all students get the supports they need and so schools could stop sending kids home because there is not an EA available;
  • an early childhood educator in every kindergarten classroom so every four- and five-year-old would get the play-based learning support that is especially necessary now after two years of pandemic isolation;
  • enough library workers to make sure school libraries are open and reading opportunities are available to kids all the time;
  • enough custodians to keep schools clean and enough maintenance workers and tradespeople to begin to tackle the $16 billion repair backlog; and
  • adequate staffing of secretaries in school offices and enough lunchroom supervisors to keep students safe.

The Ford government cut education funding by at least $800 per student over its first term. With two million students in Ontario’s schools, which amounted to a $1.6 billion cut in funding last year alone.


Throne Speech Response, CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay

CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay offers the following response to today’s Manitoba Throne Speech:

Today’s Throne Speech was a disappointment. Not only did the government fail to introduce the concrete measures that are needed to improve health care, they are making things worse by prioritizing the privatization of Manitoba’s public services. 

The government wants to convince Manitobans that by expanding private delivery of diagnostic testing and surgeries that they can speed up wait times, but this simply isn’t true. There isn’t an untapped source of health care professionals waiting to operate these private clinics. If there was, they would be hired already. Any capacity added by private clinics will come at the expense of public operations.

There was absolutely nothing in today’s throne speech about investments’ in our public education system. After years of struggle through the COVID-19 pandemic, students and education workers were looking for real commitments to improve our schools. But the message from Premier Stefanson was clear – students, teachers, and education workers are on their own.

There was discussion of new jobs, but a focus on private business investments and private sector opportunities was at the core of each announcement. We need the Manitoba government to commit to, and invest in, public service workers in all public sector work – including those noted today in the Throne Speech: libraries, schools, health care, child care, and social services.

It is crucial for the Manitoba government to ensure services are publicly funded, and not through private sector contributions that have returns on their investments. There should never be corporate monetary returns on public service work. 

This was a concerning Throne Speech from a tired government that’s run out of ideas and is gearing up to line the pockets of private investors. If anything, the pandemic should have taught us the value of our public services. But this government has a neoliberal agenda that looks for profits before quality health care, education, and public services. 

Manitoba’s public services are not for sale, and CUPE members in our province work for Manitoba. The 2023 election cannot come soon enough.

CUPE Local 1063 Members Rally Against Contracting Out

Staff at the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) held an information rally on Tuesday, mobilizing against contracting out and calling for a fair deal in the workplace.

“We want the WCB to know that staff are not willing to see their jobs devalued or contracted out,” explained Rick Rennie, President of CUPE Local 1063.

“The WCB is a highly effective agency serving Manitobans, and staff are the reason for that success. We want our employer to recognize this value and offer a fair deal for staff.”

CUPE 1063 members voted overwhelmingly for a strike mandate in September, and while negotiations are ongoing, the bargaining team is already mobilizing members.

“We want the employer to know that we are serious, and that staff at the WCB are united.”

The rally included remarks from Rennie, as well as greetings from Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew, and Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck who is also a member of CUPE 1063.

“Contracting out should never be on the table,” said Rebeck. “Threatening peoples’ jobs and leveraging that against fair compensation is unacceptable. I stand with CUPE 1063 in their fight for fairness in the workplace. These workers deserve a fair deal.”

CUPE Manitoba President Gina McKay stated that CUPE will not accept the privatization of vital public services like the WCB.

CUPE 1063 continues to negotiate and plan to launch more events to mobilize members.