Pallister government’s Bill 29 will disrupt health care, CUPE

CUPE proposes solutions to make health care bargaining more efficient

WINNIPEG – The Pallister government has proclaimed Bill 29, The Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act, an unnecessary step that will further disrupt the health care system following a year of upheaval, says CUPE, which represents 11,500 health care workers in Manitoba.

Over the past year, the government has cut health care funding, forced disruptive restructuring including deletions and layoffs on front-line workers, has closed ERs, shuttered Urgent Care Centres, axed health programs, and ignored growing health issues across Manitoba.

CUPE has consistently cautioned that so many cuts and changes will put patient care at risk.

“The last thing health care workers need right now is more uncertainty,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator. “Health care workers are already working short, feeling disrespected by this government, and now they are being given one more obstacle while they try to do their jobs.” There is a better way, says CUPE.

In response to the government’s concerns that health care has “too many bargaining units”, 7,000 CUPE health care members formed CUPE Local 204, a single union local that represents 20 health care facilities in Winnipeg and Manitoba, including hospitals, personal care homes, community clinics, health care programs, and more. This was done without disrupting health care, and at no cost to government.

CUPE has also proposed a bargaining council, where each union would continue to represent its workers under a single collective agreement.

“We can be innovative,” said McAteer. “We have shown that. We can show it again.”

Unfortunately, the Minister of Health has not responded to CUPE’s request for a meeting to discuss alternatives to Bill 29.

“We have viable solutions for government,” said McAteer. “Unfortunately, this isn’t a government that meets with stakeholders. This isn’t a government that listens, but there is still time to meet and discuss. We are open to that.”

CUPE is a strong health care union representing 150,000 health care workers across Canada, and over 11,500 in Manitoba.

Pallister quick to give himself a raise on the back of front line workers.

This week the Pallister Conservatives created a double standard on public sector wages.

“They made the ridiculous decision to give themselves a massive retroactive raise while forcing a wage freeze on our members,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “While this Premier is making deals to give himself a massive raise, our members are doing more with less.

Fighting the Health Care Cuts

CUPE is fighting the health care cuts being imposed by this government.

“The government is making a mess of health care and people are paying the price,” said Egan. “All the while Conservative Cabinet Ministers are giving themselves a 5 figure payout.”

Background

The law will retroactively pay cabinet ministers 20% of their salary if they balance the budget on schedule. For instance, for a 5-year cabinet minister, they would get one full year of salary.

 

Manitoba Government cancels proposed P3 schools: commitment to keep new schools public right step, says CUPE

CUPE members in Manitoba are celebrating a major victory against P3s.

Five new schools in Winnipeg and Brandon will be built without the using a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model, according to the 2018 Manitoba Budget.

The government initially planned to build four schools under the P3 model, but after a cost-benefit analyses the savings were found to be enough to build an entire fifth school!

“We are incredibly relieved that the government has chosen not to pursue P3 schools here in Manitoba,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “P3 schools across Canada have proven to be more expensive and less accountable to the public, and this is case-in-point.”

(CUPE 737 members and supporters raising awareness in the community against P3 schools)

Throughout 2017, CUPE conducted a sustained campaign in Manitoba to “raise red flags” on P3 schools. CUPE 737, representing workers at Brandon School Division, held a public Town Hall meeting, presented to the Brandon School Division Board of Trustees numerous times, and reached out to the community.

“It was incredibly important for the public to understand the implications P3 schools could have, so we made a real effort to inform the public since the government wasn’t going to do so,” said Jamie Rose, President of CUPE 737.

“We are glad that the government has backed off its plans for P3 schools, and can actually now build one more school than they had planned.”

P3 schools failed on cost, transparency and accountability across Canada. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta, P3 schools cost millions of dollars more than they would have cost had the projects been built traditionally. It’s likely the same story for Saskatchewan, where cost claims about P3 schools have been shrouded in secrecy, and are based on faulty calculations.

P3 schools have been found to be less transparent and accountable to citizens, which was particularly alarming for CUPE considering the provincial government’s recent scrapping of the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act.

“It was clear to us, despite what Pallister said when he first announced the new schools, that the P3 school experience across Canada has cost Canadians millions of dollars more than the fully public model,” said Egan.

(Public advertising against P3 schools in Brandon)

“We hope the Pallister government will take this cue, and consult with CUPE and our experts on other privatization schemes, including our concerns with other P3s, Social Impact Bonds, private child care, and privatization in health care.”

This victory was a success because CUPE members worked together, as a united front.

“I want to thank the leaders and activists at CUPE 737, as well as Chair of the CUPE Manitoba School Division Sector Gale Morton, Regional Vice-President Gord Delbridge, CUPE members from other sectors, and the staff at CUPE Regional and CUPE National offices for all their support throughout this campaign,” said Egan.

“When CUPE members work together, we can – and do – win”.

For more information visit cupe.mb.ca/p3schools

Manitoba Government Kills PowerSmart – CUPE 998

The final nail in the coffin of Manitoba’s beloved energy efficiency program has officially been struck by the Pallister government. With the announcement of Efficiency Manitoba today, Manitoba Hydro’s PowerSmart program is set to wind down.

“The Pallister government’s carving out of Manitoba Hydro’s energy efficiency program is simply bad policy,” says Chris Mravinec, President of CUPE Local 998 representing Manitoba Hydro employees, including the PowerSmart program.

“PowerSmart is already an excellent program that has deep roots in the community as well as direct access to Hydro information to help Manitobans find energy savings, its hard to believe this new Crown will be able to offer anything new that PowerSmart isn’t already doing.”

CUPE Local 998 is calling on Manitoba Hydro and Efficiency Manitoba to ensure that PowerSmart employees are fairly transitioned into the new Crown.

“PowerSmart employees have the experience, the networks, and the know-how to help Manitobans save energy,” says Mravinec. “We hope the government will keep these workers doing what they do best, but today’s announcement does little to reassure PowerSmart employees that a plan is in place.”

The government has not made a clear case for why creating a new Crown Corporation for energy efficiency is necessary, especially when PowerSmart is already so successful. It has also not provided details on exactly how the Crown will be staffed, financed, or how programs will be delivered.

“This is another example of the government ignoring reason and pushing their agenda forward without details,” said Mravinec.

“Countless industry experts have made submissions and presentations to the Minister of Crown Services on why PowerSmart should remain part of Hydro, why hasn’t the Minister listened?”

In January 2017, CUPE 998 commissioned a poll that found 94% of Manitobans supported PowerSmart and 78% felt that PowerSmart should remain part of Manitoba Hydro.

CUPE Local 998 represents over 1,100 members at Manitoba Hydro

CUPE welcomes Flight Medics/Nurses at Vanguard Air as newest members

CUPE is pleased to welcome Flight Medics/Nurses at Vanguard Air Care Inc. as the newest members of our union!

Paramedics and Nurses at Vanguard Air provide 24-hour service in Manitoba with locations in Norway House, Thompson, Island Lake, and Winnipeg.

“All workers in Manitoba deserve a safe work environment and a strong union to represent them in the workplace,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“We are proud that Flight Medics/Nurses at Vanguard Air chose CUPE as their voice at work, and we are committed to representing them!”

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.

Put the brakes on Pallister plan for health care changes: CUPE

The Provincial Government has finally released the Wait Times Reduction Task Force final report dated November 2017, eight months after the government announced the closure of Emergency Departments and Urgent Care centres in hospitals across Winnipeg.

“The Report suggests that the government’s decision in April 2016 to shut ERs was rushed,” says Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE 204 representing health care workers across Winnipeg, including at Concordia Hospital, Grace Hospital, Seven Oaks General Hospital, and Health Sciences Centre.

CUPE members at Seven Oaks Hospital protest government’s plans to close the ER & ICU, April 20, 2017

“As front-line workers, we believe that any changes to the health care system must be done carefully, putting patient care first.”

The report notes that closing the Concordia and Seven Oaks Emergency Departments (EDs) should be delayed, in particular “if the ED at Seven Oaks General Hospital were to close at the same time as the full closure of Concordia Hospital ED, it would put a monumental burden on the remainder of Winnipeg’s EDs”.

“Our primary concern as health care workers is how patients are affected by these changes,” said Boissonneault.

“CUPE and the authors of the report share the concern that rushed, ill-conceived changes could result in harm.”

The report also highlights concerns that “rapid implementation of consolidation will place a major stress on current resources”.

The Regional Health Authorities have been mandated to find millions in “savings” while the government is implementing recommendations from the Peachy Report, the KPMG Report, and the Wait Times Reduction Task Force report.

The KPMG consulting report pushes rapid changes to the health care system while the Wait Times Reduction Task Force, with medical doctors at the helm, cautions to “hasten slowly”.

“We are already experiencing the additional stress on health care staff in facilities across the province due to all these changes happening at once and the mixed messages from government,” said Boissonneault.  “There are numerous different reports being implemented in-part or in-full at the same time, and there seems to be no coherent plan on how these changes will impact patient care.”

One positive aspect of the Wait Times Reduction Task Force is an emphasis on social determinants of health, which include poverty, living conditions, and other socio-economic factors that impact the well-being of communities.

“We are pleased to see that the report emphasizes government action on inequity in our society,” says Boissonneault.  “Whether this government is willing to address these deeper issues in health care is still left to be seen.”

CUPE donates room full of toys to kids in the care of CFS

Today CUPE donated hundreds of toys to kids currently in the care of Winnipeg Child and Family Services.

“We want to make sure that every child gets a gift this holiday season,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “We hope this will brighten the holidays for hundreds of Manitoba kids who may not otherwise receive a present this year.”

The annual donation is a joint effort between the CUPE Manitoba Young Members Committee and CUPE 2153 which represents Winnipeg Child & Family Services workers.

CUPE Manitoba supports Bear Clan Patrol, Coalition for Families of Missing and Murdered Women in Manitoba

Today CUPE Manitoba presented the Winnipeg Bear Clan Patrol a gift of 100 blankets for the community.

Jenna Komadowski, Sherlynn Delaney, Terry Egan (CUPE MB) and Bernadette Smith, James Favel (Bear Clan Patrol)

CUPE Manitoba also presented a financial contribution to the Coalition for Families of Missing and Murdered Women in Manitoba’s 6th annual Christmas Party for MMIWG Families.

The Bear Clan Patrol was established in December 2014 as a grassroots response to the expressed needs of the community in Winnipeg’s North End and other communities for a safer, more secure environment.

“By providing a donation of blankets we want to show that we support the important work of the Bear Clan Patrol,” says Terry Egan. “The work the patrol does is invaluable to the community, and we hope all CUPE members will offer their support either through donations, or as volunteers”.

The 6th Annual Christmas Party for Manitoba Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls hosts over 200 family members, including 100 children who receive gifts and support. The event takes place on Friday, December 22 2017 at 6:00pm at the Clarion Hotel.

Terry Egan (CUPE MB) and James Favel (Bear Clan Patrol)

“These families have been through a lot, and we hope that our donation will make this event a success,” said Egan.

Receiving the gifts on behalf of the Bear Clan Patrol was James Favel, and receiving the gift on behalf of the Coalition for Families of Missing and Murdered Women in Manitoba was Bernadette Smith.

For more information on the work of the Bear Clan Patrol, visit: https://www.bearclanpatrolinc.com/

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!”