Manitoba Budget Continues to Fall Short

WINNIPEG – The 2022 Manitoba budget continues to put public services at risk, says CUPE Manitoba.

“Manitobans expect to see a budget that protects the public services they rely on,” says
Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba.  “This government continues to cut taxes for ideological reasons rather than fully supporting our schools and health care facilities.”

CUPE is concerned that the government’s plan to reach a balanced budget by 2028 will come on the backs of Manitoba workers and public services families rely on.

“The government spent years cutting health care and eliminating full-time jobs, and now they pat themselves on the backs for this year’s budget,” added McKay.  “Manitobans won’t forget how this government decimated our health care system.”

“We are also deeply concerned that the government will look to privatizing, contracting out, and selling off public services in order to balance their budget,” says McKay.

“We are pleased that the government is providing wage support for community living workers,” says McKay. CUPE joined with MGEU and UFCW in a public campaign to call on the government to increase support for these critical workers.

“We need a government that takes bold steps to support public services, especially during a pandemic that is not yet over,” says McKay.  “This budget doesn’t do that.”

CUPE will continue to analyze the budget.

 

Manitoba government fails to address systemic staffing shortages in long-term care

Winnipeg – Today the Manitoba Government announced new funding towards staffing in long-term care facilities, but fails to address systemic staffing shortages for Manitoba’s care homes, according to CUPE.

“While we welcome additional funding for long term care staffing, the government has missed this moment in time to address systemic staffing shortages across long-term and seniors’ care” said Gina McKay, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“The government continues to refuse to legislate mandatory minimum staffing requirements in care homes, despite numerous calls for strong legislation that would ensure no senior is left without care”.

CUPE Manitoba wrote a letter to the Minister of Health at the onset of the pandemic advancing key recommendations on behalf of long-term care support workers, including minimum staffing requirements.

In 2020, NDP health care critic Uzoma Asagwara also introduced legislation, which was filibustered by the PC government.

“The Manitoba government needs to legislate these minimum staffing levels so no care home, private or public, can operate without enough workers,” said McKay.

CUPE Manitoba commissioned a poll in December 2020 through Probe Research, which found 94% of Manitobans support regulations that would increase minimum staffing levels in long-term care.

Additionally, two-thirds of Manitobans would like to see public or non-profit agencies take over at least some privately operated long-term care homes.

“We know that the private sector’s primary motivation is profit for shareholders, not the care of seniors or the value of care home staff,” said McKay. “We need strong, fully-staffed and publicly accountable long-term care in Manitoba, and this government has not committed to that”.

In Saskatchewan the provincial health authority has already begun assuming delivery of long-term care services provided by Extendicare for failing to adequately address the COVID-19 situation.

“The government needs to take decisive action to address systemic challenges in Manitoba’s long-term care sector, and today’s announcement doesn’t address these deeper issues”.

Additionally, Manitoba’s public sector health care support staff have been five years without a new contract. CUPE Manitoba, along with CUPE 204, CUPE 4270, CUPE 8600, and CUPE 500 urges the province to prioritise health care support negotiations with the view to improve working conditions, wages, and benefits to ensure recruitment and retention of staff.

 

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.

Pallister quick to give himself a raise on the back of front line workers.

This week the Pallister Conservatives created a double standard on public sector wages.

“They made the ridiculous decision to give themselves a massive retroactive raise while forcing a wage freeze on our members,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “While this Premier is making deals to give himself a massive raise, our members are doing more with less.

Fighting the Health Care Cuts

CUPE is fighting the health care cuts being imposed by this government.

“The government is making a mess of health care and people are paying the price,” said Egan. “All the while Conservative Cabinet Ministers are giving themselves a 5 figure payout.”

Background

The law will retroactively pay cabinet ministers 20% of their salary if they balance the budget on schedule. For instance, for a 5-year cabinet minister, they would get one full year of salary.

 

Manitoba Government cancels proposed P3 schools: commitment to keep new schools public right step, says CUPE

CUPE members in Manitoba are celebrating a major victory against P3s.

Five new schools in Winnipeg and Brandon will be built without the using a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model, according to the 2018 Manitoba Budget.

The government initially planned to build four schools under the P3 model, but after a cost-benefit analyses the savings were found to be enough to build an entire fifth school!

“We are incredibly relieved that the government has chosen not to pursue P3 schools here in Manitoba,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “P3 schools across Canada have proven to be more expensive and less accountable to the public, and this is case-in-point.”

(CUPE 737 members and supporters raising awareness in the community against P3 schools)

Throughout 2017, CUPE conducted a sustained campaign in Manitoba to “raise red flags” on P3 schools. CUPE 737, representing workers at Brandon School Division, held a public Town Hall meeting, presented to the Brandon School Division Board of Trustees numerous times, and reached out to the community.

“It was incredibly important for the public to understand the implications P3 schools could have, so we made a real effort to inform the public since the government wasn’t going to do so,” said Jamie Rose, President of CUPE 737.

“We are glad that the government has backed off its plans for P3 schools, and can actually now build one more school than they had planned.”

P3 schools failed on cost, transparency and accountability across Canada. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta, P3 schools cost millions of dollars more than they would have cost had the projects been built traditionally. It’s likely the same story for Saskatchewan, where cost claims about P3 schools have been shrouded in secrecy, and are based on faulty calculations.

P3 schools have been found to be less transparent and accountable to citizens, which was particularly alarming for CUPE considering the provincial government’s recent scrapping of the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act.

“It was clear to us, despite what Pallister said when he first announced the new schools, that the P3 school experience across Canada has cost Canadians millions of dollars more than the fully public model,” said Egan.

(Public advertising against P3 schools in Brandon)

“We hope the Pallister government will take this cue, and consult with CUPE and our experts on other privatization schemes, including our concerns with other P3s, Social Impact Bonds, private child care, and privatization in health care.”

This victory was a success because CUPE members worked together, as a united front.

“I want to thank the leaders and activists at CUPE 737, as well as Chair of the CUPE Manitoba School Division Sector Gale Morton, Regional Vice-President Gord Delbridge, CUPE members from other sectors, and the staff at CUPE Regional and CUPE National offices for all their support throughout this campaign,” said Egan.

“When CUPE members work together, we can – and do – win”.

For more information visit cupe.mb.ca/p3schools

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.

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
assumptions.
• 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 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.

Government must lift minimum wage earners out of poverty – CUPE

On May 23 CUPE presented to the Legislative Standing Committee on Bill 33 (The Minimum Wage Indexation Act).

This Bill would index minimum wage to inflation. Matt McLean, CUPE’s National Research Representative in Manitoba made a strong presentation arguing that attaching minimum wage to inflation will only keep minimum wage earners stuck below the poverty line.

“Tying the minimum wage to CPI will do nothing to address this fundamental problem of full-time workers earning poverty wages”, McLean told the committee.

“In fact, it will guarantee that it continues by ensuring that the gap between the minimum wage and a living wage will not only continue, but could grow even larger”.

CUPE’s presentation also helped to bust the myth that minimum wage earners are predominantly teenagers working their first part-time jobs.

“69% of minimum wage earners are age 20 or older … and 46% of minimum wage earners are full-time employees”, said McLean.

“We are talking about people of all ages, of all education levels, in all kinds of businesses”

McLean urged the committee to “get back to the drawing board and come up with a real plan for working families.

For the full presentation:
CUPE Submission on Bill 33