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.

WRHA announces cuts to frontline workers, more health care closures

The WRHA has once again announced a slew of cuts to patient care and privatization of services that will directly affect Manitobans and the front-line health care workers who provide the services.

Today’s WRHA announcement cuts deeper than before, with whole clinics being shut down, and promises to reduce staffing levels in WRHA facilities.

Among those clinics being closed are:
• Four QuickCare clinics;
• The Corydon Primary Care Clinic, which specializes in diabetes care;
• The Mature Women’s Centre, a multi-disciplinary facility which specializes in gynecological issues, including menopause transition and hysterectomy alternatives.

“At this point we can safely say that health care in Manitoba is in distress,” said Debbie Boissonneault, President of CUPE’s Provincial Health Care Council. “This government is going too far, too fast, and someone is going to get hurt.”

There has been no indication how many front-line workers will be cut, but the WRHA irresponsibly claims that Manitoba has “too many” health care workers.

Today’s announcement suggests a planned reduction of front-line staff by claiming the WRHA will introduce new staff-to-patient ratios and “mixed” duties, with no further details.

“Brian Pallister said that he will ‘protect’ front line workers,” said Boissonneault, “But this government has finally come out with the truth: there will now be fewer front-line health care staff to care for Manitobans”.

The announcement also indicates the privatization of adult outpatient physiotherapy and hospital-based occupational therapy clinic services, as well as the Grace Hospital retail food services. Meals currently made on-site at Middlechurch Home will in the future be provided by the Regional Distribution Facility.

The WRHA is also increasing various fees for various services.

“The WRHA and provincial government are decimating our health care system with reckless cuts, closures, and privatization,” said Boissonneault. “This must be stopped”.

CUPE members protest cuts to health care in Manitoba

CUPE members were out en-force on July 6, protesting the Manitoba government’s cuts to health care.

“Employees at Health Sciences Centre (HSC) and CancerCare Manitoba are overworked, understaffed, and deeply concerned with the Pallister government’s massive changes to health care” said CUPE Local 1550, representing support staff at HSC and CancerCare Manitoba.

With Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centres closed, new long-term care facilities canceled, the cancellation of the new CancerCare building, and other hospital programs being cut and shuffled around, a bigger burden will be placed on HSC with no sign of new resources.

“The government’s cavalier plans for health care have been confusing, chaotic, and have deeply hurt staff morale”, said CUPE 1550. “How can HSC handle major increases in patient flow? How can health care workers do their jobs when the government keeps making cuts and systemic changes?”

Pickets were held from 7:15am – 9am, 11am – 1pm, and 3pm – 5pm throughout the day to facilitated shift changes so members could join the picket line. Local media noted the significant support from members of the community driving by.

Recent polling found that the majority of Manitobans are opposed to the governments closure of Emergency Rooms and Urgent Care Centres. CUPE and other unions have held numerous rallies against cuts, including outside the Concordia Hospital, Seven Oaks General Hospital, Victoria Hospital, Misericordia Hospital, at the Manitoba Legislature, and in Flin Flon.

“Our pickets today are to keep the pressure on the government by continuing to raise awareness against the cuts”, said CUPE 1550.

CUPE members from Locals 500, 998, 1599, 1973, and 2348 came out in support!

CUPE members were also joined by dozens of activists from sister unions, including Amalgamated Transit Union 1505, Canadian Postal Workers, Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals, Manitoba Federation of Labour, Manitoba Government & General Employees Union, Manitoba Nurses Union, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Unifor, and Workers United.

Public Sector Unions File for Injunction Against Heavy-Handed New Labour Law

Via Manitoba Federation of Labour

Today the Partnership to Defend Public Services, representing more than 110,000
Manitoba workers, filed for an injunction against the so-called Public Services Sustainability Act,
recently passed by the Pallister government.

“The Pallister government has passed a new law that fundamentally undermines collective bargaining
rights. It’s unfair and it’s unconstitutional,” said Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck,
on behalf of the Partnership.

“We are launching a full constitutional challenge and we are seeking an
injunction, to prevent this new law from being proclaimed until after a court ruling.

The Partnership today filed a statement of claim in the Court of Queen’s Bench challenging the
constitutionality of the Public Services Sustainability Act. The action includes a request for an injunction
that would prevent the government from proclaiming the Act.

Rebeck said that for months public sector unions made every effort to engage in a constructive way
with government but that the process was unproductive.

He also noted that government:
• Refused to answer any questions including those about their basic objectives or financial
• Provided no feedback on proposals from public sector unions.
• Made no amendments to Bill 28, despite concerns raised by labour at committee hearings.

“Manitoba’s public-sector unions came to the table with practical ideas to help reduce the deficit, but it’s
clear that the Pallister government was never serious about consulting with anyone,” said Rebeck.

“This comes right on the heels of major layoffs and cuts to healthcare and other services people count
on. Brian Pallister can use his majority in the legislature to get his way, but we’ll be there to pushback
every step of the way in court.”

Pallister Government’s Plan for Health Care: Create as much confusion as possible

Today the Minister of Health has once again announced major changes to Manitoba’s health care system. These changes will cause greater confusion and frustration within the health care system which is already facing government cuts and restructuring.

“Pallister is already assaulting our ERs, Urgent Care centres, and other hospital programs in Winnipeg, and now he wants to restructure the system province-wide? It’s nothing short of reckless,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE Health Care Coordinator. “Causing widespread confusion and uncertainty in the health care system will hurt staff morale and will frustrate patients.”

CUPE Provincial Health Care Council President Debbie Boissonneault

The provincial government has already imposed system-wide cuts in the form of forcing RHAs to find “savings”, as well as hundreds of jobs cut from management positions. The new Provincial Health Organization will supposedly find even more “savings”, but the government is unclear where those savings will come from or what front-line positions will be affected.

“The provincial government is playing a dangerous game with our health care system,” said McAteer. “Playing shuffle-board with our health care programs is irresponsible.”

Using the same Peachy Report they used to cut ERs and shuffle hospital programs around in Winnipeg, the government is now taking aim at Rural Health Authorities and province-wide programs with yet-to-be-determined cuts and changes. The government is unclear on what exact changes will be made to important services including Diagnostic Services of Manitoba Inc. and how these changes will affect staff.

“The government’s approach to health care creates so much uncertainty and leaves health care providers and support workers with more questions than answers,” said McAteer. “With so much being changed at once, we are deeply concerned that patient care, staff morale, and actual programming will be irreparably damaged.”

CUPE remains opposed to ER, Urgent Care closures and program changes

WINNIPEG – The Canadian Union of Public Employees remains opposed to the sweeping changes to Winnipeg’s health

care services announced by the WRHA in April 2017. These changes included the closure of community ERs, Urgent Care, as well as the shuffling of community-based mental health programs.

Today’s WRHA announcement that identifies the timelines in which these changes are to be made is troubling.

“These sweeping changes were announced without community input, and it

CUPE 1973 members protesting health care cuts at Concordia Hospital, April 2017

seems they are now being implemented at break-neck speed despite broad community opposition,” said Shannon McAteer, CUPE’s Provincial Health Care Coordinator.

“Health care support workers, doctors, nurses, even eye-doctors have raised serious concerns with the closures and program changes, and these experts on the ground

are clearly not being listened to.”

While CUPE members participated in on-site forums held by the WRHA over the past number of weeks and participated in the Winnipeg Wait-Time Reduction Task Force consultation which had

CUPE 2509 members protesting program cuts at Seven Oaks Hospital, April 20, 2017.

fewer than 15 participants, there has been no meaningful opportunities for the community to voice their concerns.

“It has been abundantly clear that neither the community, nor labour, nor experts in the field were consulted in the lead-up to the government’s changes to

health care,” said McAteer. “These changes triggered protests outside health care facilities, as well as in the community, and I expect these protests will continue.”

CUPE believes that strong investments must be made in health care, and that

CUPE 8600 members protesting health care cuts in Flin Flon, May 2017

the government’s mandated “savings” are nothing short of a direct cut to front-line health care services.

“We have already seen the impacts of cuts to the quality of care in the North, and now we’re seeing it here in Winnipeg,” said McAteer, citing protests against staff shortages in the Northern Regional Health Authority as a result of the government’s mandate.

“The provincial government’s ill-conceived mission to find ‘savings’ in health care is

becoming nothing short of reckless, and someone is bound to get hurt.”

CUPE acknowledges the WRHA’s statement that collective agreements will be honoured throughout the process and we expect to fully participate in discussions moving forward.

CUPE 1599 (Grace Hospital) supporting the rally at the Victoria Hospital, May 2017

Pallister government passes reckless legislation – CUPE

Winnipeg – With the conclusion of the 41st Legislature, the Pallister government is willfully passing legislation that will disrupt health care, hurt working families, and will leave Manitobans with more questions than answers, says CUPE Manitoba.

“Pallister’s government is willfully passing irresponsible and ill-conceived legislation that leaves more questions than answers,” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba.

Terry Egan, CUPE Manitoba President

“This whole session the government has acted like amateurs by tabling ill-conceived legislation, and Manitobans will suffer because of it”.

In a sitting that lasted past 3 am, the government passed legislation including Bill 28 (Public Services Sustainability Act) which imposes wage freezes on public sector workers, Bill 29 (Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act) which forces union representation votes in health care, and Bill 19 (Efficiency Manitoba Act) which carves PowerSmart out of Manitoba Hydro, among other legislation.

“Is Bill 28 constitutional? Is Bill 29 necessary? Is Bill 19 really efficient? We believe the answer to these questions is ‘no’,” said Egan.

“Rather than discussing these issues with workers, this government has neglected it’s responsibility to negotiate, and has instead opted to push through reckless legislation just for the sake of pushing it through.”

CUPE, along with the Manitoba Federation of Labour has expressed numerous concerns that Bill 29 will unnecessarily disrupt health care services, and that Bill 28 is unconstitutional because the government refused to meaningfully negotiate at the bargaining table.

Bill 19 was filibustered by a Conservative MLA who, along with CUPE and Opposition parties raised concerns that the legislation was unnecessary.

The government also made sweeping changes to health care, including mandating significant cuts, closing ERs and other programs, cancelling important community funding, and more.

“The government uses their majority to pass all their legislation no matter what people say, but they should never forget that the people are watching, and we’re taking notes,” said Egan.

“We’re putting this government on notice that if they continue on this path of cuts, reckless lawmaking, and lack of respect for dialogue, then they’ll have more trouble down the road”.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing over 643,000 members.

In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 25,000 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.

Anti-labour Bills in Manitoba Pass Committee Hearings

Winnipeg – The Pallister Conservative government has pushed two anti-labour Bills through the committee stage and into Third Hearing, which could ultimately result in the passing of the legislation.

Bill 28 (Public Sector Sustainability Act) and Bill 29 (Health Care Bargaining Unit Review Act) were opposed by dozens of labour representatives and members of the public at Committee hearings that took place on the evening of May 8th.

Bill 28 imposes a four-year wage settlement on all public sector workers, freezing wages for two years, followed by sub-inflationary increases of 0.75% and 1% in the third and fourth year respectively.

Bill 29 drastically restructures health care bargaining units, reducing the number of health care collective agreements, forcing union representation votes, and imposes a commissioner with sweeping powers over health care bargaining.

CUPE’s Manitoba Regional Director Lee McLeod presented both verbal and written submissions in opposition to both Bills.

CUPE on Bill 28

“These hard-working Manitobans, who truly are the “front-lines” this government promised to protect, are angry and feel betrayed,” McLeod told the committee on Bill 28.

“It is apparent that this government is not interested in meaningful consultations with public sector unions, and that this government always intended to use legislation to circumvent workers constitutionally protected right to free and fair collective bargaining.”

CUPE has been working closely with the Manitoba Federation of Labour and other unions to oppose Bill 28 and Bill 29.

CUPE on Bill 29

Bill 29 was also discussed in a separate committee hearing, taking place at the same time down the hall.

“We believe that collaboration between health care unions and this government could produce a superior collective bargaining model that works better for government and health care workers alike”, McLeod told the committee.

“We urge this government to scrap Bill 29 and instead work with us to make a better system for both workers and patients. No one benefits from the disruption, costs, and uncertainly of forced representation votes – not patients, not workers, and not the health care system”.

CUPE’s May 8, 2017 submissions to the committees can be found here:

CUPE Submission on Bill 28
CUPE Submission on Bill 29

To learn more on how the legislative process works, and how Bills are introduced, debated, and passed, visit the Manitoba Legislative Assembly website