Manitoba Throne Speech threatens public education, child care, and continues to hurt front-line health care – CUPE

The Manitoba Throne Speech offers little reassurance that the provincial government will support public education and child care, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“With the elimination of the education property tax, we are concerned that the government will resort to school cuts, especially under the auspices of the K-12 review,” said Abe Araya, President of Manitoba. “Where is the government going to come up with funding for our children’s education?”

The Throne Speech also introduces the government’s plans to increase private child care spaces in the province, including for capital investments in private child care facilities.

“The government should be focused on increasing public, affordable child care across Manitoba, rather than subsidizing private facilities that could end up costing families more,” said Araya. “Childcare advocates have been calling for fully funded public child care in the province, and this government is going the opposite direction”.

CUPE Manitoba President Abe Araya, and CUPE 204 President Debbie Boissonneault at the Manitoba Throne Speech

The government’s sweeping changes to the health care system continues to impact front-line health care support staff.

“As the government and health authorities continue to implement their restructuring of health care, support workers remain understaffed and under-valued,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE Local 204 representing Community and Facility Support staff in the WRHA and Shared Health.

“We need investments in support staff positions, as well as a commitment from the province that they will not be privatizing or contracting out any health care services”.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 700,000 members. In Manitoba, CUPE is the province’s largest union, representing approximately 36,000 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.

 

Abe Araya Elected as President of CUPE Manitoba

BRANDON – Delegates at the 2019 CUPE Manitoba Convention in Brandon elected Abe Araya as President of the province’s largest union. Abe Araya comes from CUPE Local 110, representing custodians, maintenance, and painters at the Winnipeg School Division.

“Our union is focused on fighting back against cuts to health care, education, social services, and privatization,” said Araya. “Despite Brian Pallister’s attempts to divide working people, we will be uniting workers from across Manitoba to put a stop to Pallister’s austerity agenda.”

Delegates at convention voted in support resolutions, ranging from health and safety in the workplace, anti-oppression training for activists, pushing back against privatization, fighting against health care and education cuts, and supporting the Green New Deal.

“CUPE is an incredibly diverse union,” said Araya. “With the strength of Manitoba’s largest union, we will be on the front line defending public health care and education, public Hydro, and fighting for properly funded childcare and social services for all Manitobans.”

CUPE’s annual convention featured guest speakers, including NDP leader Wab Kinew, NDP Critic for Infrastructure and Municipal Affairs Matt Wiebe, NDP Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre Leah Gazan, Winnipeg School Division Trustee Yijie Chen, and Manitoba Health Coalition Director Breanne Goertzen.

CUPE National President Mark Hancock and CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury spoke to delegates, committing the full strength of CUPE’s 700,000 members to fight against cuts and privatization.

Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck provided updates on labour’s united front against Bill 28 (The Public Services Sustainability Act) and committed to fight against the Pallister government’s unconstitutional wage freeze.

Two hundred people rallied outside Brandon City Hall with CUPE Local 69 on Wednesday evening, voicing concern over the contracting out of work at the Wheat City Golf Course.

Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Local 500 served as interim CUPE Manitoba President throughout 2019. Delbridge continues to serve as Vice-President of CUPE Manitoba. Barb Gribben of CUPE Local 737 was this year’s recipient of the prestigious Jack Rodie Award, recognizing dedication and activism in the union.

“Our union is stronger, and more united than ever,” said Araya. “Manitobans can count on CUPE to defend good jobs, and fight for our public services.”

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 700,000 members.  In Manitoba, CUPE represents over 36,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, childcare centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

Health Care Support Workers’ Recognition Week: October 21-25, 2019

This week, CUPE is celebrating the work of its thousands of members in health care support roles across the Manitoba.

The Manitoba Government officially proclaimed the week of October 21 to 25, 2019 as Health Care Support Workers’ Recognition Week. The government failed to proclaim the week in 2018, but because of CUPE’s request it has once again been recognized.

“Health care support workers are the pillars of our health care system,” stated Debbie Boissonneault President of CUPE 204, representing facility and community support workers in the WRHA and Shared Health. “We work hard every day to keep our health care system working, but these days we’ve been feeling left behind.”

CUPE been calling on the government to get to the bargaining table and negotiate a fair contract for health care support workers. But with the government’s unconstitutional wage freeze legislation, the recent forced health care representation votes, and Pallister’s overhaul of the health care system, support workers are under more pressure than ever before.

“Health care support workers are often unrecognized in their day-to-day work ,” said Darrin Cook, President of CUPE 4270, representing facility and community support workers in Southern Health – Sante Sud. “We should all take the time this week to thank the health care support workers in every community who care for our health”.

“From Nunavut to the US border, Manitoba’s health care support workers deserve recognition and respect,” said Christine Lussier, President of CUPE 8600, representing facility and community support workers in the Northern Regional Health Authority. “It has been difficult times for staff, but health care support workers in the NRHA have been critical in keeping our community healthy”.

“Despite working short-staffed, health care support workers in Manitoba have been doing everything possible to care for the community”, said Margaret Schroeder, President of CUPE 5362, representing staff at CancerCare Manitoba. “We call on the government to recognize our work by providing enough resources for us to do it effectively”.

CUPE locals across Manitoba are holding or participating in events to express appreciation for health care support workers. CUPE is also calling on the government to immediately meet with representatives of CUPE to discuss the impact of the province’s health care overhaul on front line staff.

See the full proclamation.

Care Representation Votes: What happens now?

Health Care Representation Votes:  What happens now?

FOR ALL HEALTH CARE WORKERS

Now that the health care representation votes have concluded, there will be a period of transition for all unions and employers. Here is what you need to know:

  • You keep your current union – for now. Contact your current union for any grievances, arbitrations, and issues in the workplace. You continue to pay dues to your current union.
  • Your current collective agreement continues to cover you until a new contract is bargained.
  • Your new union will represent you after the Commissioner certifies the winning union as your bargaining agent.

More Details

Read more…

Dates set for health care union representation votes, August 8 to August 22, 2019

Dates set for health care union representation votes, August 8 to August 22, 2019
CUPE to Pallister: health care workers deserve a break

Today the Commissioner responsible for the implementation of the Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act (HSBURA) announced the dates of union representation votes, a move by this government that CUPE continues to claim is an unnecessary disruption to health care.

“The Pallister government is throwing another wrench into an already strained health care system,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator. “Health care workers across Manitoba deserve a break, yet this government continues to pile on uncertainty, stress and chaos.”

HSBURA was enacted in 2018, and forces health care workers to choose which union will represent them into the next round of contract negotiations. Bargaining has been stalled in Manitoba until the results of these representation votes.

“CUPE is Canada’s largest health care union and we will stay focused on fighting Pallister’s health care cuts and defending our members in the workplace,” said McAteer. “We also want to focus on the future, and that future is bargaining a strong contract for our health care members and getting them the respect they deserve”.

The union that gets the most votes in each of the 18 health care votes taking place across the province will be certified to represent those workers. The winning union in each bargaining unit will then bring its largest collective agreement into the next round of bargaining. If CUPE wins the votes, CUPE will be bringing the strongest health care contracts in the province to the table.

“CUPE’s health care contracts are the strongest in Manitoba, with good pensions and benefits for all of our hard working health care members” said McAteer. “CUPE has a no-concessions bargaining policy and a $100 million strike fund, so we are ready to bargain strong in health care.”

DETAILS:

Voting dates will take place between August 8 and August 22, 2019.

Notice Period: June 13 – July 10
– Voters lists will continue to be reviewed.
– A letter to all affected employees with information about the votes will be delivered between July 9 and July 19.

Campaign Period:
July 11 – August 7
– This includes an opportunity to meet with CUPE in kiosks at various sites.
– Voters will be provided with a Personal Identification Number (PIN).
– A voter help desk will be available.

Voting Period:
August 8 – August 22
– Voting will begin at 12:00 noon on August 8, and end 12:00 noon on August 22nd
– Voting will be available 24 hours a day online or by touchtone phone, in English and French.
– Once voting concludes, the results will be tabulated and released.

CUPE is committed to following the campaign rules established by the Commissioner, and we will continue to provide information to all health care workers about the impact the Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act will have in the workplace.

CUPE wants all members to know that while these votes are taking place, CUPE will continue to prioritize fighting for you in the workplace. We know health care workers are going through a difficult time, and we’re committed to being with you, for you at work.

CUPE is ready to fight for all health care workers.

CUPE represents 680,000 members across Canada, including 162,000 health care workers, and approximately 11,600 health care workers here in Manitoba.

Learn more about CUPE and the representation votes at: http://cupehealthcare.ca

 

Urgent Care at Concordia response to community mobilizing: now it’s time to end the chaos in health care

It’s time to end the chaos in health care says CUPE Local 204 President Debbie Boissonneault, in response to the government’s announcement that the Concordia Hospital Emergency Room will be converted to an Urgent Care Centre within the next five weeks. CUPE Local 204 represents 7,000 health care workers across Winnipeg.

“CUPE members and the community fought to stop the closure of the Concordia ER,” said Boissonneault. “It’s because of this pressure that the hospital will now have an Urgent Care Centre instead of the government’s plan for nothing. We deserve to know the government’s long-term plan for properly-resourced public health care. It is crucial that the government confirms that this decision to make Concordia into an Urgent Care Centre will last past the next election.”

“This government is playing political games with our health care system, and health care workers are at a tipping point,” said Boissonneault. “Staff have been doing everything possible to care for patients during the rushed and disruptive implementation of the government’s plans, but worker fatigue and morale have become a real concern”.

Since the Pallister government announced its restructuring plans, including the closure of Emergency Rooms at the Concordia Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital and the Victoria Hospital in 2017, the WRHA has been implementing system-wide staff restructuring to accommodate the changes.

Added Boissonneault: “CUPE is calling on the government to fully reverse its decision to close the Concordia and Seven Oaks Emergency Rooms. It’s time to end the chaos in health care.”

CUPE 204 President Debbie Boissonneault confronted Minister Friesen and demanded a meeting to discuss CUPE’s ongoing concerns with the cavalier changes to the health care system.

CUPE 204’s Letter to Minister Friesen re: health care changes

CUPE Local 204 represents approximately 7,000 health care workers across Winnipeg, including support staff at Concordia Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital, Grace Hospital, and HSC.

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.

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.”

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.