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.

CUPE celebrates School Support Staff Recognition Week, Sept 23 – 27, 2019

The Province of Manitoba has declared the week of September 23 – 27, 2019 as School Support Staff Recognition Week.

Because of CUPE, the Manitoba government has recognized the hard work of school support staff since 2013, and has set aside this important week to acknowledge the value of school support staff to our education system.

“School support staff in Manitoba help keep our schools safe and clean, they get our kids to school safely, keep our schools running, and they help our children learn, grow, and succeed,” says Gord Delbridge, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“Recognizing school support staff goes beyond a proclaimed recognition week – we need to continue to support them in fighting for fair wages, pension & benefits, and workplace health and safety”.

Minister of Education Kelvin Goertzen wrote to CUPE, thanking school support staff and our union for encouraging Manitobans to recognize and appreciate the work of school support staff in Manitoba.

“School Support Staff Recognition Week in Manitoba will provide educators, parents and community members with many opportunities to thank school support staff for the valuable role they play in schools, and in the functioning of Manitoba’s education system” wrote Goertzen.

CUPE School Division Sector is running a this week, encouraging the public to thank school support workers in Manitoba.

See the full proclamations below:

 

CUPE welcomes newest members at St. Boniface Diocesan High School

Teaching and support staff at St. Boniface Diocesan High School in Winnipeg voted overwhelmingly to join CUPE, Canada’s largest union.

St. Boniface Diocesan High School staff join other CUPE members in Manitoba Catholic schools, including, employees at St. Emile School and Holy Cross School represented by CUPE Local 4434.

“We pleased to welcome the staff at St. Boniface Diocesan High School into CUPE,” said Gord Delbridge, CUPE Manitoba President.

“With 680,000 CUPE members across Canada, and 5,600 K-12 school sector workers in Manitoba, St. Boniface Diocesan High School staff now have access to the strongest representation in the country”.

The next step for the new CUPE members is to elect a local executive and bargaining committee, and begin bargaining their first contract.

“Joining CUPE is a big step towards achieving fairness in the workplace,” said Delbridge. “CUPE prides itself on negotiating the strongest contracts for our members, and we will commit to doing the same for staff at the St. Boniface Diocesan High School”.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees represents approximately 27,000 members working in school divisions, health care facilities, personal care homes, municipal services, social services, child care centres, universities, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

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.

CUPE presents to the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs on Bill 24

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:

CUPE Manitoba P3 Speaking Notes
CUPE Local 500 Speaking Notes

School Support Workers Week – September 25 – 29

This week, CUPE is encouraging school divisions and the public to take time to recognize school support workers in Manitoba. The provincial government has proclaimed School Support Staff Recognition Week from September 25 to September 29, 2017.

“CUPE school support staff help make our schools a safe, clean, positive place of learning and development for students, families, and the wider community,” says Terry Egan, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees – Manitoba, and a school custodian himself.

CUPE members in the education sector perform cleaning, custodial, maintenance, courier, mechanical, and utility work, provide clerical support to teachers and administrators, support learning and student inclusion and attendance in the classroom and the community, bus children and teachers to and from schools and on field trips, help keep school libraries relevant and organized, support learning through information technology systems, work to improve literacy, support food services in schools, and support fundraising, sports, extra-curricular and community activities.

“School support staff in Manitoba are critical members of the education team in our province,” said Egan. “We should all take a moment to thank them for their incredibly important contributions to our children’s education.”

CUPE is pleased to join the Province of Manitoba in recognizing the important work our 5,500 members perform in school divisions across the province during School Support Staff Recognition Week from Monday, September 25 to Friday, September 29.

Pallister pushes P3 schools, despite growing concerns

WINNIPEG – Today the Manitoba Government announced the hiring of a private consulting firm, KPMG, to pursue the government’s plan to build four new schools in Manitoba under a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model, despite growing concern nation-wide that P3 schools end up costing more.

“Premier Pallister first announced the new P3 schools to the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships, P3 lobbyists,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “He did not announce the new schools to parents, school staff, or school divisions, which is quite telling of his agenda.”

The P3 school model has raised serious concerns across Canada, including in Nova Scotia which recently bought back P3 schools because it would be cheaper.

“Pallister isn’t telling the whole story on P3 schools,” said Egan. “And now he is spending taxpayer dollars on a consultant to push forward with his P3 agenda, rather than having an honest discussion on whether or not P3s should even be used.”

The provincial government recently announced the building of two new schools in Winkler and Niverville slated to open by 2019, to be financed and built traditionally.

In preparation for opening the doors to P3s in Manitoba, Premier Pallister also rescinded the province’s Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act. This legislation would ensure public consultation and cost comparators prior to considering P3 agreements.

“The government has already committed to the P3 model, trashing public accountability, and is handing the planning over to a private consultant,” said Egan. “Pallister has no interest in building schools publicly, and entering into this private sector scheme will hurt our schools in the long run.”

In June, CUPE Local 737, representing school support workers in Brandon, hosted a public town hall to discuss concerns with the P3 model.

Experience from other jurisdictions:
Province to buy 10 public-private partnership schools for $49.3m (July 16, 2017)

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

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.”