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.
The Provincial Government has finally released the Wait Times Reduction Task Forcefinal 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.
“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.”
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 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:
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.
“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.
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”.
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.
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”.