Manitoba budget offers minor funding increases to public services

Social Impact Bonds give rise to concern

The Pallister Government’s first provincial budget offers minor improvements to many important areas of the public sector, says CUPE Manitoba.

“We are pleased to see this government’s continuation of funding to health care, education, post- secondary education, and social services,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “In an environment where cuts would have been the ‘easy way out’, we are pleased that this government listened to Manitobans, and has instead maintained or increased funding to many key public services”.

CUPE Manitoba applauds funding commitments to the Aboriginal Academic Achievement Fund, which will help ensure Community Liaison Workers in the Winnipeg School Division have the tools they need to perform their important work. These workers were under threat of significant job losses and funding cuts in early 2015.

CUPE also hopes the new Premier’s Enterprise Team will include representatives from labour, which were included in the former government’s Premier’s Economic Advisory Council.

However, the government’s ongoing pursuit of Social Impact Bonds causes serious concern.

“While we are pleased that the Manitoba Government has not implemented major cuts, we are very concerned with this government’s ongoing promotion of Social Impact Bonds,” says Moist. “Social Impact Bonds are an abdication of government responsibility for marginalized or vulnerable people, and we must reject these profit-making schemes”.

Additionally, while many mandate letters to the newly appointed Ministers call for increased involvement from the private sector, including in childcare, there is no mention of increased private involvement in the budget documents.

“We still need to see how exactly this funding is rolled out,” says Moist. “We need a strong commitment from this government that they will not privatize or contract out any public services”.

Budget Highlights:

  • 3.5% increase to health
  • Funding increases to the Aboriginal Academic Achievement fund
  • 1.4 % increase to education with 2.5% increase to initiatives for at-risk youth, literacy
  • 2.5% operating grant increase to universities
  • 4.5% increase to Child and Family Services

Budget Lowlights:

  • Commitment to Social Impact Bonds
  • No commitment to oppose privatization and contracting out
  • No commitment to increasing the minimum wage

Manitoba provincial election: What’s at stake for CUPE members?

Today the Premier of Manitoba officially dropped the writ, beginning a month-long election that will determine the next government of Manitoba on April 19.

But what does this election mean for CUPE members?

The Conservatives and Liberals want to cut jobs, privatize services, and reverse the gains we have made as workers under the NDP.

While election platforms will be rolled out throughout the campaign, we have already seen overtures made by the Conservatives and Liberals that will affect our members.

This is a brief overview of what’s at stake for CUPE members in Manitoba:

  • School Sector workers: the Conservatives have promised not to cut teaching jobs, but don’t rule out funding cuts to schools. Funding cuts to schools mean School Boards will look to our support staff members and programs for “savings”.

The Liberals have announced that they too will find millions in “savings”, but haven’t yet said where they will cut. Liberal governments in other provinces have pushed school support staff on strike with layoffs and funding cuts.

  • Child Care workers: the Conservatives have openly discussed creating more private child care centres across the province. Private centres mean higher costs for parents, lower quality, and cut corners. The more private centres the Conservatives build, the less support public centres will receive by government, driving down wages for our members.The Liberals recently announced their child care plan, which is contingent on funding from the Federal government, and has very few details.
  • Social Services workers: Conservatives have indicated they want to privatize social services by introducing Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). SIBs allow big multinational corporations to “sponsor” a program, and will receive a “return on investment” if the program succeeds. This would certainly affect our members as government funding is cut.

In fact, the last time the Pallister Conservatives were in power in Manitoba, they cut millions of funding to social service agencies, including many where CUPE members work today.In other provinces, Liberal governments have cut social services to the core.

  • Health Care workers: When the Conservatives were last in power, Brian Pallister was a Cabinet Minister and he cut health care jobs. Many CUPE members remember the impact of these cuts.The Conservatives today are no different. They have already discussed finding ways to reduce the workforce in order to “save money”.

In Saskatchewan and Alberta conservative governments have privatized laundry services and cut jobs. The Alberta Conservatives even wanted to introduce fees for health care services. Albertans had enough, and voted in an NDP government.

In Ontario and BC, Liberal governments have found “savings” off the backs of workers. In BC, laundry services have been contracted out resulting in job cuts and pay cuts. Liberals in Manitoba would surely follow that lead.

  • Municipal workers: Pallister’s Conservatives have a policy on the books to immediately rescind Manitoba’s groundbreaking Public Private Partnership Transparency (P3) legislation. By doing this they will eliminate accountability and transparency for P3s, which take away jobs from public sector workers, and are far more costly than traditional procurement.

Conservatives will also make sure that new infrastructure is owned and operated by private companies (through P3s), rather than municipal governments.

That means there will be less “need” for public sector workers like you, and it will likely result in downsizing and contracting out.Liberal governments have also promoted the use of P3s., especially in Ontario and the east coast.

The Ontario Liberals have been major advocates of P3s despite their Auditor General pointing out that P3s have cost Ontarians $8 billion more than traditional, government managed projects.

Liberal governments in Quebec have interfered in municipal bargaining, resulting in major labour action in municipalities across the province due to cuts, contracting out, and attacks on pensions.

  • Crown Corporations: While Pallister’s Conservatives have denied that they would privatize Manitoba Hydro, the last PC government in Manitoba also denied they would privatize MTS, and then turned around and did so. The Pallister Conservatives have been constant critics of Manitoba Hydro and its planned developments.

The Manitoba Liberal Party has already indicated they will privatize Manitoba Liquor stores, which means they are likely eyeing other places to encourage privatization. Manitoba Liquor stores earn over $280 million in annual profits which are used by the provincial government to pay for government services such as health care and education.

The choice for CUPE members is clear:

At the most recent CUPE Manitoba Convention, members from across the province voted to endorse the NDP. If you take a look at the track record of the NDP in Manitoba over the years, it is clear they are prepared to work hard for workers in our province.

  • School Sector workers: The NDP in Manitoba has consistently increased funding for schools. Class sizes have been reduced, while supports for staff have increased, including wages.
  • Child Care workers: The NDP has tripled public child care funding, and has implemented wage enhancement to increase pay for child care workers. They have also promised to build more public child care centres, and increase spaces by 12,000. Manitoba has the most affordable child care outside Quebec, and the NDP is committed to universal child care for all.
  • Social Services workers: Many of the social service agencies in Manitoba today exist because the NDP has prioritized community development, and has reinstated much of the funding that was cut in the 90’s.

The NDP hold the firm belief that investing in social services means investing in the community and protecting those who need it most. From supports for mental health to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations: the Manitoba NDP support social service programs and jobs.

  • Municipal workers: The Manitoba NDP has created the first-ever P3 Accountability Legislation in Canada, recognizing that public workers can do the job better, cheaper, and with more accountability to the taxpayer.

The Manitoba NDP has also consistently funded infrastructure, provided supports to municipalities across the province for things like arena maintenance, community programs, and parks.

  • Health Care workers: The Manitoba NDP has consistently made health care a priority, and is building new personal care homes across the province. While other provinces are cutting jobs, cutting pay, and privatizing services, the Manitoba NDP have always invested in health care.
  • Crown Corporations: The NDP will continue to invest in Manitoba Hydro, investing in both generation and transmission capacities. The NDP has promised to keep the MLCC public.

April 19 is an important day for CUPE members to get out and vote. But you can do more!

CUPE members are encouraged to volunteer in local NDP campaigns, and help re-elect Manitoba’s worker-friendly government. Talk to workers from other provinces about the challenges they’ve faced under Liberal and Conservative governments.

The stakes have never been higher, and now is the time to take action.

For more information on the provincial election, visit cupe.mb.ca/category/manitoba-provincial-election.

Manitoba fiscal update is good news for province’s workers

The province’s Economic and Fiscal Outlook tabled in the Manitoba Legislature today offers a more progressive way of ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share. With the implementation of a new tax bracket that would see Manitoba’s highest earners provide slightly more in income taxes, the province is able to expand tax credits and supports for lower income earners.

“The 98% of Manitobans who don’t earn over $170,000 per year expect the government to help build a more level playing field,” said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Ensuring that the wealthy pay their fair share is good for working families”.

The fiscal outlook is an excellent tool for Manitobans to understand the nature of government budgeting, as well as a current look into the state of the Manitoba economy.

“While the Progressive Conservatives used much of today in an attempt to filibuster the government’s update, we are pleased that it was ultimately tabled for Manitobans to view,” said Moist. “The PCs have yet to offer Manitobans anything of substance themselves, and instead turn to parliamentary tactics to stall valuable discussion”.

The Manitoba Government is also committed to continued funding to health and education, and expanding childcare, ensuring that the province builds stronger public services for Manitobans.

“Other provinces are opting to cut funding to schools and hospitals, while Manitoba chooses to invest,” said Moist. “Manitobans should be proud that this government continues to fund the services we all rely on”.

Manitoba commitment to accessible public child care applauded

WINNIPEG – Tuesday’s announcement by the provincial government to increase public childcare spaces in Manitoba by 12,000 new spaces, while also increasing accessibility and wages will help strengthen Manitoba’s child care sector, says CUPE Manitoba.

“By ensuring funding for more spaces and by prioritizing wages and training, this government is supporting Manitoba families as well as those who provide the care for their children” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba.

CUPE Manitoba has always echoed the Childcare Coalition of Manitoba’s calls for improved funding for public child care spaces.

In June of 2015, Manitoba Progressive Conservative MLA Ian Wishart exposed the PC’s intention to move towards more private child care spaces in Manitoba, which would result in reduced quality, cut corners, and higher costs for Manitoba families.

“We’re pleased that the Manitoba NDP are standing to their commitment to support public, universally accessible child care” says Moist “we know that Brian Pallister’s PCs want to move towards a more private model, and that’s simply the wrong direction”.

CUPE represents approximately 150 employees in the child care sector in Manitoba.

Manitoba government offers responsible, visionary plan: CUPE

WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s NDP government has once again offered the province a progressive vision for the upcoming year in its annual speech from the throne, in what CUPE Manitoba is calling “a responsible and visionary plan.”

“The Manitoba government has offered an incredibly progressive plan that reflects the needs of a great cross-section of Manitobans” said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba, “offering paid leave for victims of domestic violence, ensuring support for new refugees, confirming funding for Shoal Lake’s freedom road – this is the whole package.”

This year’s Throne Speech reflects the nation-wide calls for action on numerous key issues, both domestic and international, positioning Manitoba as a clear leader on social justice and progressive economic growth.

“After over a decade of steady growth and pragmatic stewardship over the economy, this government is well poised to tackle some pretty big issues” said Moist, “Manitobans expect a government that is both responsible and visionary, and that’s what today’s Throne Speech offers.”

Highlights of the Throne Speech include extending paid leave to victims of domestic violence, support for Syrian and other refugees, a renewed call for a  national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women, a renewed commitment to building the Shoal Lake 40 freedom road, investments in infrastructure and rapid transit, stable funding for colleges and universities, and a commitment to building 12,000 affordable childcare spaces.

The Throne Speech further commits to protecting Manitoba’s crown corporations against privatization.

“While other provinces are recklessly privatizing their key assets, Manitoba’s NDP government has pledged to protect our important institutions” said Moist, “all we need to do is look to our east or west to see what Liberal and Conservative governments have to offer, and it’s not pretty.”

Additionally the Throne Speech continues the government’s steady funding towards health care, education, infrastructure, and improving long-term care, all of which affect the work that CUPE members perform daily

“As the union that represents workers in communities and workplaces across Manitoba, we are excited to work with this government as it turns its vision into reality,” said Moist, “today’s Throne Speech is a great launching point for a new, progressive plan for our province.”

Solidarity Sector Conference – Second Call

The CUPE Manitoba Solidarity Sector Conference is fast-approaching!

This is a great opportunity to meet with fellow CUPE members from your own sector, to discuss trends, issues, and opportunities within your sector (ie: Health Care, Long-Term Care, Municipal, Social Service & Childcare, Crowns, Education, etc).

Please contact CUPE Manitoba for more information!

Download (PDF, 293KB)

Better Choice: let’s start talking about the Federal election

The country’s slow economic recovery has left 2.8 million Canadians unemployed or underemployed. Nearly three quarters of the jobs created in the past six years have been precarious (part-time, temporary or in the self-employed sector). With limited job prospects, household debt is at an all-time high.

Soon, you will get to choose how we overcome these challenges.

There is a better choice. One that gets us ready to support and care for our aging population. One that gives Canadians high-quality, secure jobs instead of short-term, temporary positions. One that provides programs that benefit everyone—instead of tax relief programs that benefit a select few.

We believe there is a better choice for you and the economy.

What will you choose?

Visit the campaign betterchoice.ca to learn more!

PC’s private child care plan the wrong direction

WINNIPEG – If there is one issue that is galvanising support across Canada, it is the need for affordable and accessible public child care.

Unfortunately Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party is looking to take our province in a completely different direction. “Universally accessible child care is the issue of our time,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba “but Brian Pallister wants to hand the reigns over to private companies.”

In a recent Winnipeg Free Press article, Conservative MLA Ian Wishart outlined the Conservatives’ plan to encourage more private child care facilities rather than working on creating a truly accessible child care system. “Manitobans know that leaving public services like child care, health care, or education in the hands of private companies would be detrimental,” says Moist “private companies would increase fees, reduce wages, and cut corners.”

Conservatives both provincially and federally are out of touch with the realities of child care. The federal conservatives plan goes nowhere near enough to impact the true costs of child care, while the provincial Conservatives want to hive off child care to the private sector. “If you connect the dots, federal child care subsidies would simply end up as profit for private child care companies,” said Moist “what we need is a federal plan to implement universally accessible child care.”

The Manitoba government has been rolling out hundreds of new day care spaces across the province, in addition to committing to universally accessible child care. Manitoba is currently the second most affordable province in Canada.

Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger was quick to defend quality public child care by immediately rejecting the conservative plan.

“Why the Conservatives at all levels want to do the opposite of what Canadians and Manitobans are calling for is beyond me,” said Moist “the Conservatives are clearly moving in the wrong direction.”

For more information on CUPE’s efforts to build a high-quality and universally accessible child care plan, visit ReThink Childcare.

Visit Better Choice to learn about how child care affects all Canadians.

Check out the Manitoba NDP’s response to Pallister’s privatization plans, and check out the federal NDP’s plan for a new, better way to do child care in Canada

Manitoba budget supports childcare and social services. What it means for CUPE members

The Manitoba Government’s 2015 provincial budget was released on April 30th.

Throughout this week we will be featuring a number of key CUPE sectors and how the budget affects members within that sector.

What is the provincial budget?

The provincial budget is the implementation of the government’s vision for the next year, as well as commitments to long-term and short-term investments.

Being part of a national union, CUPE members in Manitoba know that the cuts made in other provinces are not happening here. The Manitoba NDP has committed to supporting the services that Manitobans rely on.

CUPE members in Manitoba work in childcare facilities across the province, as well as working as support staff in Winnipeg Child and Family Services.

But what does the 2015 provincial budget mean to CUPE members in Manitoba?

Child Care       

The province is funding 900 new universally accessible and affordable childcare spaces and is supporting higher wages for child-care (ECE) workers as well as building and expanding child-care centres.

This commitment to increasing wages through wage enhancement for child-care workers is welcome and will continue to improve working conditions and raise the bar for all child-care workers.

However CUPE is continuing to exert pressure on both the provincial and federal governments to ReThink Childcare, and provide a better child care system for all.

Social Services

The province is increasing funding to family services by $20 million. This includes the commitment to increase staffing in Child and Family Services by 210 new workers, many of whom will be CUPE members.

The government has also begun providing funding for the Community Living wage enhancement fund, an initiative that was a result of a strong campaign by CUPE Local 3085 Community Living Selkirk.

We all care for Manitoba’s children, and this budget helps to increase access to childcare and provide much-needed resources to our members who care for children in need.

Stay tuned for “Manitoba budget supports infrastructure. What it means for CUPE members”