Manitoba government offers responsible, visionary plan: CUPE

WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s NDP government has once again offered the province a progressive vision for the upcoming year in its annual speech from the throne, in what CUPE Manitoba is calling “a responsible and visionary plan.”

“The Manitoba government has offered an incredibly progressive plan that reflects the needs of a great cross-section of Manitobans” said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba, “offering paid leave for victims of domestic violence, ensuring support for new refugees, confirming funding for Shoal Lake’s freedom road – this is the whole package.”

This year’s Throne Speech reflects the nation-wide calls for action on numerous key issues, both domestic and international, positioning Manitoba as a clear leader on social justice and progressive economic growth.

“After over a decade of steady growth and pragmatic stewardship over the economy, this government is well poised to tackle some pretty big issues” said Moist, “Manitobans expect a government that is both responsible and visionary, and that’s what today’s Throne Speech offers.”

Highlights of the Throne Speech include extending paid leave to victims of domestic violence, support for Syrian and other refugees, a renewed call for a  national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women, a renewed commitment to building the Shoal Lake 40 freedom road, investments in infrastructure and rapid transit, stable funding for colleges and universities, and a commitment to building 12,000 affordable childcare spaces.

The Throne Speech further commits to protecting Manitoba’s crown corporations against privatization.

“While other provinces are recklessly privatizing their key assets, Manitoba’s NDP government has pledged to protect our important institutions” said Moist, “all we need to do is look to our east or west to see what Liberal and Conservative governments have to offer, and it’s not pretty.”

Additionally the Throne Speech continues the government’s steady funding towards health care, education, infrastructure, and improving long-term care, all of which affect the work that CUPE members perform daily

“As the union that represents workers in communities and workplaces across Manitoba, we are excited to work with this government as it turns its vision into reality,” said Moist, “today’s Throne Speech is a great launching point for a new, progressive plan for our province.”

CUPE 500 Presents to Public Works Committee – Snow Plowing should be brought back in-house

CUPE Local 500 President Mike Davidson presented a summary of the local’s Public Plowing Works report to the City of Winnipeg Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Public Works, calling for contracted-out snow clearing to be brought back in-house.winnipeg

“CUPE 500’s Snow Plowing Hotline resulted in hundreds of comments and concerns from across the city” Davidson told the committee. “The fact that so many Winnipeggers have offered their concerns and ideas on snow plowing indicates strong public interest in this core city service”.

On February 10th the committee approved a motion to conduct an in-depth review of the city’s snow clearing services, with particular focus on a cost and quality comparison between private contractors and city-run snow clearing services.

On February 23rd, CUPE Local 500 launched a snow plowing hotline and website aimed at collecting stories from Winnipeggers about their experiences with snow plowing in our city.

Below is a summary of the report. The full report will be provided to City Council at the same time as the City’s own report on cost comparisons between public and private plowing in Winnipeg.

The date of the City’s report is yet to be determined.

Download (PDF, 430KB)



Pallister seeks to privatize Manitoba’s Social Services

Winnipeg – Progressive Conservative leader Brian Pallister’s June 9th plan to explore Social Impact Bonds as a model to fund social service agencies is cause for deep concern.

“Pallister wants to remove government’s social contract with its citizens and replace it with a private contract,” says Kelly Moist President of CUPE Manitoba. “At its core, Pallister’s plan would allow private companies to profit from poverty using the public purse.”

Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) are financing schemes where taxpayer dollars are directed to investor profits instead of public social programs.

Sometimes called “pay for success”, SIBs are the latest financing gimmick where lenders, such as banks (including Goldman Sachs), provide upfront capital to fund projects. This money is paid back by the government at a high rate of interest resulting in inflated costs to the taxpayer and lower quality services. SIBs are more accurately called “social impact borrowing” or “social impact loans.”

“There was a time when the private sector would simply make philanthropic donations as part of their corporate responsibility to the community” says Moist. “Pallister’s model will take that philanthropy and turn it into private profit.”

In 2013 the Alberta College of Social Workers expressed opposition to the Alberta Progressive Conservatives’ support for SIBs in stating that “these Bonds will lead to the commodification of social services where profits come before people”

While Pallister claims that social impact bonds would foster “private-sector innovation,” these companies will seek to invest in only the non-government agencies that would see profitable outcomes, rather than programs that seek to address long-term root causes of many of societies deep and complex issues, including poverty.

CUPE has highlighted concerns in the past about the use of Social Impact Bonds in a submission to the Federal government in 2013, these concerns about SIBs include:

  • profiting from social ills;
  • using a for-profit business model approach to providing services for those most in need;
  • carving off the more suitable areas for investment return to the exclusion of the most vulnerable or most in need;
  • risk averse nature of social impact bond financed programs;
  • unstable financing of long-term social programs with short-term funding mechanisms with no guarantee of continuation even if the service is being provided;
  • misuse and misapplied impact assessments based on poorly defined measures of efficiency;
  • displacement of stable and professionally managed publicly funded programs with short-term initiatives.

It is widely acknowledged that it is government’s responsibility to address issues of homelessness, unemployment, and poverty, and using Social Impact Bonds to augment social services is an extremely poor choice of models that forfeits government’s responsibility to its citizens.

“Manitobans look to government to fund social service agencies in an effective and targeted manner that benefits the most vulnerable in our society” says Moist. “The profit motive should never be the driver for social services.”

For more information on SIBs check out CUPE’s submission to HRSDC.


PC’s private child care plan the wrong direction

WINNIPEG – If there is one issue that is galvanising support across Canada, it is the need for affordable and accessible public child care.

Unfortunately Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party is looking to take our province in a completely different direction. “Universally accessible child care is the issue of our time,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba “but Brian Pallister wants to hand the reigns over to private companies.”

In a recent Winnipeg Free Press article, Conservative MLA Ian Wishart outlined the Conservatives’ plan to encourage more private child care facilities rather than working on creating a truly accessible child care system. “Manitobans know that leaving public services like child care, health care, or education in the hands of private companies would be detrimental,” says Moist “private companies would increase fees, reduce wages, and cut corners.”

Conservatives both provincially and federally are out of touch with the realities of child care. The federal conservatives plan goes nowhere near enough to impact the true costs of child care, while the provincial Conservatives want to hive off child care to the private sector. “If you connect the dots, federal child care subsidies would simply end up as profit for private child care companies,” said Moist “what we need is a federal plan to implement universally accessible child care.”

The Manitoba government has been rolling out hundreds of new day care spaces across the province, in addition to committing to universally accessible child care. Manitoba is currently the second most affordable province in Canada.

Manitoba NDP Premier Greg Selinger was quick to defend quality public child care by immediately rejecting the conservative plan.

“Why the Conservatives at all levels want to do the opposite of what Canadians and Manitobans are calling for is beyond me,” said Moist “the Conservatives are clearly moving in the wrong direction.”

For more information on CUPE’s efforts to build a high-quality and universally accessible child care plan, visit ReThink Childcare.

Visit Better Choice to learn about how child care affects all Canadians.

Check out the Manitoba NDP’s response to Pallister’s privatization plans, and check out the federal NDP’s plan for a new, better way to do child care in Canada