CUPE 998 Opposed to Bill 19

Winnipeg – CUPE Local 998 (representing workers at Manitoba Hydro, including in the PowerSmart program) will be on-site to voice opposition at the Legislative Committee hearings on Bill 19 tonight.

Bill 19 (Efficiency Manitoba Act) seeks to carve out the PowerSmart program from Manitoba Hydro and establish a separate energy efficiency crown corporation.

“PowerSmart is an important program housed in Manitoba Hydro that helps Manitobans achieve energy efficiency targets and savings,” says Chris Mravinec, President of CUPE 998.

“It makes no sense to divorce our public energy efficiency program from our public hydro”.

The government re-scheduled committee hearings to tonight at 6pm, after failing to pass committee hearings on May 11 following numerous presentations, including from CUPE 998, and an hours-long filibuster by Conservative MLA Steven Fletcher.

“We hope the government comes to its senses on Bill 19 in ‘round-two’ of committee hearings”, says Mravinec.

CUPE Local 998 launched an online petition that has garnered over 300 signatures and numerous comments since it was launched on May 17.

For more information contact:

(204) 391-7939 Chris Mravinec, President CUPE 998

(204) 801-7339 David Jacks, CUPE Communications

Pallister’s P3 schools plan lacks transparency, accountability

Today Premier Brian Pallister announced the construction of four new schools in Manitoba to be designed, built, financed and maintained through a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model.

“Pallister isn’t telling the whole story when he tries to pitch P3s to Manitobans,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “P3s in other jurisdictions have cost more in the long-run, with less accountability over taxpayers dollars”.

The Auditor General of both Nova Scotia and Alberta have raised serious concerns with the use of P3s in education in those two provinces, citing excessive costs, failure to meet contract requirements, lack of transparency, and insufficient proof that the projects provided value for money.

“There is an over twenty-year history of P3 schools in Canada. P3 schools are not new, are not innovative, and have not been successful,” said Moist. “Premier Pallister should learn from the mistakes of Nova Scotia and Alberta and stay clear of this disastrous policy.”

“Pallister’s plan to introduce a finance-maintain P3 model doesn’t make financial sense, as government can borrow at lower interest rates than private companies,” said Moist. “P3s will also cut corners to save money for themselves at the expense of the infrastructure they are conveniently paid to maintain”.

P3 schools under this model can be trapped in 30-year maintenance contracts with private conglomerates making it difficult for schools themselves to operate efficiently. These contracts are often hidden from the public as “proprietary” property of private companies.

Pallister’s plan also includes hiring “an advisor” to determine whether building design-build-finance P3 schools will be more cost-effective than the traditional design-build model. However, whether the public will have any way to review the advice provided by this “advisor”, or whether this “advisor” will be an independent third-party is yet to be seen.

The Pallister government recently introduced legislation to repeal the province’s P3 Accountability and Transparency legislation, claiming it was “red tape” for private corporations to access public dollars. Aspects of this legislation include the requirement for an independent, arms-length body to perform a publicly reviewable value for money review.

“If the Pallister government truly supported a value for money review, and believed in transparency and accountability as he campaigned upon, he would not be moving ahead to scrap the P3 Accountability and Transparency legislation,” said Moist. “If ever there was a time for robust legislation around P3’s, it would be when the province is considering greater reliance on the P3 model.”

“We believe every taxpayer’s dollar that this government spends should be transparent and accountable,” said Moist. “Scrapping P3 transparency legislation and then building four P3s makes it pretty clear that Pallister is in this for business interests rather than public interests.

Experience from other jurisdictions:

Nova Scotia Buys 2 P3 Schools for $12.9m

Alberta government scraps P3 funding model for new schools

Province Abandoning P3 Model for 19 New Alberta Schools

Nova Scotia government to buy 12 P3 schools for nearly $86M

P3 School Projects Blasted by AG Report

CUPE Saskatchewan Fact Sheet on P3 Schools

Case Study: P3 Schools in Alberta

 

Manitoba budget leaves doors wide open for privatization

Winnipeg – CUPE Manitoba is concerned that the provincial budget announced today leaves the door open for the unchecked privatization of public services and programs, while eroding existing public services.

The government recently announced that current P3 Accountability and Transparency legislation will be eliminated, and echoed this move in today’s budget.

CUPE MB President Kelly Moist speaking to the Canadian Press at the 2017 budget scrum

“This government insists that public transparency and accountability is a ‘regulatory burden’”, said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “We believe the public has the right to know the details of private contracts that are receiving public dollars”.

The budget’s language of “new”, “innovative”, and “collaborative” approaches to the government’s long-term care investments is also concerning, considering this language is often double-speak for privatization.

“The province must invest in more public personal care home spaces and reject for-profit beds,” said Moist. “As more and more Manitobans move into personal care homes, we need to ensure a strong, fully public system is available to them so dollars go directly to the care Manitobans deserve, instead of private profit.”

There is no clear commitment that the 501 new childcare spaces announced in the budget will be fully public.

CUPE is also concerned with the continued emphasis on Social Impact Bonds as a medium to deliver public social services and programs.

“While the budget references a ‘Made in Manitoba’ Social Impact Bond program, there is very little detail in what programs and services will be affected,” said Moist. “We are pleased however that the government is interested in supporting community Social Enterprises, and hope the government continues to support community-led initiatives and leaves private for-profit corporations out of it”.

“The government has already broken it’s promise to protect public services and the workers who provide them by closing ERs, laying off hundreds of Hydro workers, and imposing wage freezes on workers province-wide” says Moist. “We need to strengthen – not cut or privatize – our programs and services and this budget does not give us much confidence”.

Accountability and Transparency for P3 privatization model is not “red tape”, it’s an essential public protection

CUPE MB: Pallister’s proposal to repeal P3 Legislation is a step backwards

Basic public consultations, accountability and transparency are needed, not “red tape”

Winnipeg – The Canadian Union of Public Employees Manitoba has serious concerns about legislation introduced today by the Pallister government to repeal a law that provides basic measures for accountability and transparency when it comes to public-private partnerships.

Section 14 of the Pallister government’s Bill 24- The Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act proposes to eliminate the existing Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act, in its entirety.

The P3 Transparency and Accountability Act contains basic but essential protections for public investments and access to services,” said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “How can Premier Pallister call the P3 Act “red tape”? It provides minimum provisions for a fair process on P3 projects, most of which involve tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and long-term contracts.”

“P3 projects are controversial for a reason,” added Moist. “These projects often take public funds and oversight and turn them over to a for-profit entity. Why would any government want to repeal a law that protects the public interest and public funds?”

CUPE has raised concerns in the past about P3s. The existing legislation only provides basic protections and access to information. In one case in Portage la Prairie, for example, CUPE raised concerns that a wastewater treatment plant renovation and expansion worth hundreds of millions of dollars would cost the public more through a P3, key financial information was not made available to the public, and there was no serious effort to engage in public consultations. CUPE is concerned that P3 projects routinely have poor results on every measure of public interest, from quality of service to timelines and cost.

“The people of Manitoba have always been on the hook for any problems resulting from using the P3 model for public projects. If the P3 Act is eliminated, we will be on the hook and blindfolded,” concluded Moist.

“If Premier Pallister wants to show Manitobans he is committed to his promise to protect public services, he will cancel his plans to repeal The P3 Transparency and Accountability Act, and strengthen it instead.”

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Keep Power Smart in Manitoba Hydro!

http://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://cupe.mb.ca/files/2017/01/Media_Release_Local_998_PowerSmart_2017_01_26.pdf&embedded=true

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http://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://cupe.mb.ca/files/2017/01/PowerSmart-polling-release-info-sheet_1.pdf&embedded=true

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http://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://cupe.mb.ca/files/2017/01/PowerSmart-polling-release-info-sheet2.pdf&embedded=true

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For more details about the polling results, click here.

Visit the CUPE Local 998 website here for more information.

Manitoba budget offers minor funding increases to public services

Social Impact Bonds give rise to concern

The Pallister Government’s first provincial budget offers minor improvements to many important areas of the public sector, says CUPE Manitoba.

“We are pleased to see this government’s continuation of funding to health care, education, post- secondary education, and social services,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “In an environment where cuts would have been the ‘easy way out’, we are pleased that this government listened to Manitobans, and has instead maintained or increased funding to many key public services”.

CUPE Manitoba applauds funding commitments to the Aboriginal Academic Achievement Fund, which will help ensure Community Liaison Workers in the Winnipeg School Division have the tools they need to perform their important work. These workers were under threat of significant job losses and funding cuts in early 2015.

CUPE also hopes the new Premier’s Enterprise Team will include representatives from labour, which were included in the former government’s Premier’s Economic Advisory Council.

However, the government’s ongoing pursuit of Social Impact Bonds causes serious concern.

“While we are pleased that the Manitoba Government has not implemented major cuts, we are very concerned with this government’s ongoing promotion of Social Impact Bonds,” says Moist. “Social Impact Bonds are an abdication of government responsibility for marginalized or vulnerable people, and we must reject these profit-making schemes”.

Additionally, while many mandate letters to the newly appointed Ministers call for increased involvement from the private sector, including in childcare, there is no mention of increased private involvement in the budget documents.

“We still need to see how exactly this funding is rolled out,” says Moist. “We need a strong commitment from this government that they will not privatize or contract out any public services”.

Budget Highlights:

  • 3.5% increase to health
  • Funding increases to the Aboriginal Academic Achievement fund
  • 1.4 % increase to education with 2.5% increase to initiatives for at-risk youth, literacy
  • 2.5% operating grant increase to universities
  • 4.5% increase to Child and Family Services

Budget Lowlights:

  • Commitment to Social Impact Bonds
  • No commitment to oppose privatization and contracting out
  • No commitment to increasing the minimum wage

Manitoba provincial election: What’s at stake for CUPE members?

Today the Premier of Manitoba officially dropped the writ, beginning a month-long election that will determine the next government of Manitoba on April 19.

But what does this election mean for CUPE members?

The Conservatives and Liberals want to cut jobs, privatize services, and reverse the gains we have made as workers under the NDP.

While election platforms will be rolled out throughout the campaign, we have already seen overtures made by the Conservatives and Liberals that will affect our members.

This is a brief overview of what’s at stake for CUPE members in Manitoba:

  • School Sector workers: the Conservatives have promised not to cut teaching jobs, but don’t rule out funding cuts to schools. Funding cuts to schools mean School Boards will look to our support staff members and programs for “savings”.

The Liberals have announced that they too will find millions in “savings”, but haven’t yet said where they will cut. Liberal governments in other provinces have pushed school support staff on strike with layoffs and funding cuts.

  • Child Care workers: the Conservatives have openly discussed creating more private child care centres across the province. Private centres mean higher costs for parents, lower quality, and cut corners. The more private centres the Conservatives build, the less support public centres will receive by government, driving down wages for our members.The Liberals recently announced their child care plan, which is contingent on funding from the Federal government, and has very few details.
  • Social Services workers: Conservatives have indicated they want to privatize social services by introducing Social Impact Bonds (SIBs). SIBs allow big multinational corporations to “sponsor” a program, and will receive a “return on investment” if the program succeeds. This would certainly affect our members as government funding is cut.

In fact, the last time the Pallister Conservatives were in power in Manitoba, they cut millions of funding to social service agencies, including many where CUPE members work today.In other provinces, Liberal governments have cut social services to the core.

  • Health Care workers: When the Conservatives were last in power, Brian Pallister was a Cabinet Minister and he cut health care jobs. Many CUPE members remember the impact of these cuts.The Conservatives today are no different. They have already discussed finding ways to reduce the workforce in order to “save money”.

In Saskatchewan and Alberta conservative governments have privatized laundry services and cut jobs. The Alberta Conservatives even wanted to introduce fees for health care services. Albertans had enough, and voted in an NDP government.

In Ontario and BC, Liberal governments have found “savings” off the backs of workers. In BC, laundry services have been contracted out resulting in job cuts and pay cuts. Liberals in Manitoba would surely follow that lead.

  • Municipal workers: Pallister’s Conservatives have a policy on the books to immediately rescind Manitoba’s groundbreaking Public Private Partnership Transparency (P3) legislation. By doing this they will eliminate accountability and transparency for P3s, which take away jobs from public sector workers, and are far more costly than traditional procurement.

Conservatives will also make sure that new infrastructure is owned and operated by private companies (through P3s), rather than municipal governments.

That means there will be less “need” for public sector workers like you, and it will likely result in downsizing and contracting out.Liberal governments have also promoted the use of P3s., especially in Ontario and the east coast.

The Ontario Liberals have been major advocates of P3s despite their Auditor General pointing out that P3s have cost Ontarians $8 billion more than traditional, government managed projects.

Liberal governments in Quebec have interfered in municipal bargaining, resulting in major labour action in municipalities across the province due to cuts, contracting out, and attacks on pensions.

  • Crown Corporations: While Pallister’s Conservatives have denied that they would privatize Manitoba Hydro, the last PC government in Manitoba also denied they would privatize MTS, and then turned around and did so. The Pallister Conservatives have been constant critics of Manitoba Hydro and its planned developments.

The Manitoba Liberal Party has already indicated they will privatize Manitoba Liquor stores, which means they are likely eyeing other places to encourage privatization. Manitoba Liquor stores earn over $280 million in annual profits which are used by the provincial government to pay for government services such as health care and education.

The choice for CUPE members is clear:

At the most recent CUPE Manitoba Convention, members from across the province voted to endorse the NDP. If you take a look at the track record of the NDP in Manitoba over the years, it is clear they are prepared to work hard for workers in our province.

  • School Sector workers: The NDP in Manitoba has consistently increased funding for schools. Class sizes have been reduced, while supports for staff have increased, including wages.
  • Child Care workers: The NDP has tripled public child care funding, and has implemented wage enhancement to increase pay for child care workers. They have also promised to build more public child care centres, and increase spaces by 12,000. Manitoba has the most affordable child care outside Quebec, and the NDP is committed to universal child care for all.
  • Social Services workers: Many of the social service agencies in Manitoba today exist because the NDP has prioritized community development, and has reinstated much of the funding that was cut in the 90’s.

The NDP hold the firm belief that investing in social services means investing in the community and protecting those who need it most. From supports for mental health to supporting the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations: the Manitoba NDP support social service programs and jobs.

  • Municipal workers: The Manitoba NDP has created the first-ever P3 Accountability Legislation in Canada, recognizing that public workers can do the job better, cheaper, and with more accountability to the taxpayer.

The Manitoba NDP has also consistently funded infrastructure, provided supports to municipalities across the province for things like arena maintenance, community programs, and parks.

  • Health Care workers: The Manitoba NDP has consistently made health care a priority, and is building new personal care homes across the province. While other provinces are cutting jobs, cutting pay, and privatizing services, the Manitoba NDP have always invested in health care.
  • Crown Corporations: The NDP will continue to invest in Manitoba Hydro, investing in both generation and transmission capacities. The NDP has promised to keep the MLCC public.

April 19 is an important day for CUPE members to get out and vote. But you can do more!

CUPE members are encouraged to volunteer in local NDP campaigns, and help re-elect Manitoba’s worker-friendly government. Talk to workers from other provinces about the challenges they’ve faced under Liberal and Conservative governments.

The stakes have never been higher, and now is the time to take action.

For more information on the provincial election, visit cupe.mb.ca/category/manitoba-provincial-election.

CUPE Local 500 and WAPSO call for an end to vacancy management

The unions that represent Winnipeg’s municipal workers and the city’s administrative, supervisory, and professional staff, are calling for Mayor Bowman to end the Katz-era practice of not filling vacant positions.

“The city has been slowly eroding Winnipeg’s municipal workforce,” said Gord Delbridge, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Local 500. “We need to ensure we have enough workers to provide the services Winnipeggers rely on, and that support is just not there.”

The effect of the city’s fourteen year property tax freeze, coupled with the equally long vacancy management program, puts a chokehold on the city’s ability to run services effectively.

“This budget highlights $20.9 million in vacancy management,” said Michael Robinson, President of the Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers, (WAPSO). “Leaving a void this large in the municipal workforce is only going to reduce our ability to respond to the needs of Winnipeggers.”

Winnipeg’s municipal unions have been open to meeting with City officials to discuss initiatives that would improve services and find meaningful ways to save money at the same time.

“We know that Winnipeggers are tired of dealing with contracted-out municipal services,” said Delbridge. “I think it’s time to start talking about bringing these services back in-house to improve accountability to the taxpayer as well as a reliable service.”

“For every position left vacant, whether front-line, administrative, or in a support role, you are reducing access to the public” said Robinson.  “Savings found in vacancy management are not actually savings.”

WAPSO and CUPE Local 500 would like to see leadership from the city on the following:

  • An immediate end to the vacancy management program – to ensure adequate staffing levels in city services;
  • A commitment to reject the contracting out or privatization of any municipal service – to ensure accountable and quality public service delivery;
  • A commitment to bringing previously contracted-out services back in-house;
  • Maintaining or improving the level of city services currently being provided to Winnipeggers – to ensure that our citizens do not receive cuts to the services they rely on.

“When the city’s professional staff, supervisors and workers join together, you know the issue is important,” said Dave Sauer, President of the Winnipeg Labour Council.  “Winnipeg’s municipal workers are under a lot of pressure to do more with less, and Council needs to show them support.”

CUPE Local 500 represents approximately 4,600 municipal workers at the City of Winnipeg.

WAPSO represents approximately 800 administrative, supervisory and professional staff at the City of Winnipeg, Riverview Health Centre and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA).

Joint CUPE 500 / WAPSO release:
http://www.cupe500.mb.ca/news/local-news/cupe-local-500-and-wapso-call-end-vacancy-management/