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.

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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195 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.

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”.

CUPE concerned with new for-profit MRI clinic in Niverville, Manitoba

WINNIPEG – CUPE is expressing deep concern with the proposed new private MRI clinic announced by Niverville Heritage Holdings Inc. This new MRI clinic is planning to charge between $1,000 and $1,300 for an MRI.

“Private profit has no place in our health care system,” says Darrin Cook, President of the CUPE Local 4270 representing health care support workers in Southern Health – Santé Sud. “Universal health care is a pillar of Canadian society, is enshrined in the Canada Health Act, and profiting off MRIs should not be allowed.”

The new private MRI facility is also reportedly being built without the support of either the federal or provincial governments, noting an agreement between Niverville Heritage Holdings Inc., the Town of Niverville, Liver Care Canada, and two private individuals.

“Health care funding and provision is the responsibility of the provincial and federal governments,” said Cook. “How is this even allowed to operate without full support from the other levels of government?”

Allowing private for-profit MRI clinics opens the floodgates for other private health care providers to set up shop in Manitoba and will reduce public investments in new public facilities.

“If we truly want to reduce MRI wait times, we need to invest in public MRI services and make sure MRIs are being used the way they are supposed to be used,” said Cook citing the 2017 Manitoba auditor general’s report on MRI wait times, which noted a principal reason for wait times is the high level of inappropriate requests for MRIs.

“We fully support investments in Niverville, and investments in health care,” said Cook, “but this new private MRI clinic will introduce a two-tiered system where the rich can buy their way into treatment ahead of the poor, and that is simply not right”.

CUPE Local 4270 represents approximately 2,100 health care workers in Southern Health – Santé Sud.