Social Impact Bonds wrong direction for Manitoba’s social services – CUPE

Today the Manitoba government announced the opening of a request for proposals for Social Impact Bonds, a scheme in which private companies profit off social service delivery.

“There was a time when the private sector would simply make philanthropic donations as part of their corporate responsibility to the community” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Social Impact Bonds take that corporate philanthropy and turn it into a private money-making scheme”.

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.

“Social Impact Bonds are like P3s, for social services. We have the in-house expertise we need to deliver social services right here in Manitoba,” said Egan. “There’s no need to outsource the financing, planning and evaluation of social programs to consultants and corporations”.

For more information on Social Impact Bonds, see these helpful links:

Profiting form children: a child care social impact bond in Chicago

https://cupe.ca/profiting-children-child-care-social-impact-bond-chicago

CUPE Table Talk: Social Impact Bonds: The next horizon of provatization

https://cupe.ca/social-impact-bonds-next-horizon-privatization

CUPE Economy at Work: Economics 101 – Decoding Social Impact Bonds

https://cupe.ca/economics-101-decoding-social-impact-bonds

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.

Anti-labour Bills in Manitoba Pass Committee Hearings

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:

CUPE Submission on Bill 28
CUPE Submission on Bill 29

To learn more on how the legislative process works, and how Bills are introduced, debated, and passed, visit the Manitoba Legislative Assembly website

 

Disability support workers join CUPE

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is proud to welcome 35 new members at Com-Span Inc.

We would like to welcome employees from Com-Span to our union. Workers at Com-Span provide invaluable services to the community and we’re proud to represent them in their workplace!

Com-Span Inc. provides day services to individuals with intellectual disabilities.

These workers joined CUPE because CUPE is a strong voice for workers and has a good track record of bargaining fair contracts, representing workers in meetings with management, and helping to build a safe and inclusive work environment.

Every worker has the right to join a union and have representation in the workplace.

The employees at Com-Span Inc. dedicate their lives to serving people living with intellectual disabilities and deserve a strong voice at the table. We’re proud to be that voice.

Com-Span Inc. employees voted to join CUPE in a vote held on April 6 and 7, 2017, and will be part of CUPE Local 5176.

The Labour Board officially issued the certificate recognizing CUPE as the new bargaining agent on April 28, 2017.

CUPE represents over 1,000 disability services workers in some of the following Manitoba employers: Southwest Community Options Inc., Canadian Mental Health Association, Spike (Special People in Kildonan East), Ten Ten Sinclair (and housing), Rehabilitation Centre for Children, ARC Industries Occupational Training Centre, Community Therapy Services, Association for Community Living, Haldisse Community Services, Heima er Best, Riverdale Place Homes, Parkland Regional Community Linc, Touchwood Park Association and Epic Opportunities.

Read more…

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”.

CUPE Manitoba statement on Behavioural Health Foundation – Male Youth Program

On behalf of CUPE Local 4792, representing staff at the Behavioural Health Foundation – Male Youth Program, we would like to express our deepest condolences and our unwavering support to the victims of the violent assaults that took place on May 29 against BHF staff.

No worker should ever have to face violence in the workplace. Everyone has the right to a safe work environment. CUPE is committed to work with the employer and Workplace Health & Safety to review protocols and safety procedures at BHF.

We offer our support to the victims of this incident and their families, and we will work diligently with all parties to address safety at BHF. CUPE 4792 has been in contact with our member.

We have also issued our concerns with respect to the closing of this important program, as well as the layoffs that will ensue.

The BHF Male Youth Program is a residential treatment program based in Selkirk Manitoba that provides intensive in-facility care and treatment to young men suffering from addictions and mental health issues.

Approximately 30 employees, represented by CUPE 4792 provide services to young men who seek support for addictions issues, are slated to be laid-off by the end of June due to funding shortages at the program.

Funding for the program has traditionally been issued through a per diem model, which only provides funding based on client use, rather than the long-term stable funding that is needed to maintain the program.

We are requesting that the new provincial government step in and provide much-needed long-term stable funding to save this important community program.

We are concerned that the closure of this program will not only impact the lives of the 30 employees who work there, but will negatively affect countless young men who are in need of crucial support.

Far too many social service agencies in Manitoba are underfunded; staff are overworked and under-paid. We must work together as a community to ensure stable, long-term funding to all social service agencies in Manitoba, and do everything in our power to ensure this type of violence never happens again.

Kelly Moist
President, CUPE Manitoba

Allen Bleich
CUPE National Representative

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

Members’ Provincial Election Guide 2016

Consult this handy guide to find out what’s at stake for CUPE members across Manitoba and in your sector. The guide also includes suggestions for questions to ask candidates in the lead-up to the April 19 election. Contact CUPE-MB to order paper copies.

Download (PDF, 543KB)

CUPE Local 2348 (Midwives) reach tentative agreement

Winnipeg – Midwives, represented by CUPE Local 2348, have voted in favour of a new collective agreement that helps to support midwifery services in Winnipeg.

“After a difficult round of bargaining, we are pleased that we have reached an agreement that all parties deem fair,” said Sheree Capar, CUPE National Representative. “It is our hope that this new agreement will help to recruit and retain midwives in Manitoba.”

Following a strong strike mandate from Midwives on March 11, 2016, a meeting took place with a provincial conciliation officer on March 17, 2016, and an acceptable package was presented. Members of CUPE Local 2348 (Midwives) held a vote March 18-21 2016, to accept the new collective agreement, thereby averting any strike action.

“The provincial government and Winnipeg Regional Health Authority have acknowledged the value of midwifery services in Manitoba, and we will work with them to promote this important health care profession” said Capar. “There continues to be a growing demand from Manitoba families for midwifery, and we are encouraged that the province is working to address this demand”.

The provincial government recently announced $800,000 in new funding towards midwifery training programs in Manitoba, which will help train new midwives to meet the needs of Manitoba families.

“Midwives want to convey the message that midwifery services are available to all Manitobans, regardless of family background or income,” said Capar. “With this new contract, our midwives can get back to helping expectant families with prenatal and postnatal supports, as well as safe deliveries!”

The new contract for midwives will move the profession closer in line with other jurisdictions, making it easier for the WRHA to retain both existing and newly trained midwives in Winnipeg. CUPE Local 2348 worked alongside the Midwives Association of Manitoba (MAM) as well as countless supporters, including families who have used midwifery services, to highlight the value of midwifery in the province and to work towards equitable compensation.