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.
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.”
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.
“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.
“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”.
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:
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.
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.
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
• 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.”
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.
“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.
Winnipeg – The Pallister Conservative government has pushed two anti-labour Bills through the committee stage and into Third Hearing, which could ultimately result in the passing of the legislation.
Bill 28 (Public Sector Sustainability Act) and Bill 29 (Health Care Bargaining Unit Review Act) were opposed by dozens of labour representatives and members of the public at Committee hearings that took place on the evening of May 8th.
Bill 28 imposes a four-year wage settlement on all public sector workers, freezing wages for two years, followed by sub-inflationary increases of 0.75% and 1% in the third and fourth year respectively.
Bill 29 drastically restructures health care bargaining units, reducing the number of health care collective agreements, forcing union representation votes, and imposes a commissioner with sweeping powers over health care bargaining.
CUPE’s Manitoba Regional Director Lee McLeod presented both verbal and written submissions in opposition to both Bills.
CUPE on Bill 28
“These hard-working Manitobans, who truly are the “front-lines” this government promised to protect, are angry and feel betrayed,” McLeod told the committee on Bill 28.
“It is apparent that this government is not interested in meaningful consultations with public sector unions, and that this government always intended to use legislation to circumvent workers constitutionally protected right to free and fair collective bargaining.”
CUPE has been working closely with the Manitoba Federation of Labour and other unions to oppose Bill 28 and Bill 29.
CUPE on Bill 29
Bill 29 was also discussed in a separate committee hearing, taking place at the same time down the hall.
“We believe that collaboration between health care unions and this government could produce a superior collective bargaining model that works better for government and health care workers alike”, McLeod told the committee.
“We urge this government to scrap Bill 29 and instead work with us to make a better system for both workers and patients. No one benefits from the disruption, costs, and uncertainly of forced representation votes – not patients, not workers, and not the health care system”.
CUPE’s May 8, 2017 submissions to the committees can be found here:
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.