CUPE calls on Sask government to ban private blood plasma clinics

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tainted blood

Photo: Holness Law Group

Regina – The Canadian Union of Public Employees Saskatchewan is asking the Wall government to halt plans to proceed with the privatization of the province’s blood donor system.

For-profit blood plasma clinics operated by the company Canadian Plasma Resources (CPR) were first introduced in Ontario but soon banned after strong opposition mounted by blood advocates. CPR is now in the process of setting up private plasma clinics in Saskatchewan.

In a letter sent to provincial health minister Dustin Duncan, CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham stresses that Canada’s 17-million-dollar federal inquiry into the tainted blood scandal, in which more than 30,000 Canadians were infected with HIV and hepatitis C, found that the paid-donor system was a key factor in Canada’s worst-ever preventable public health disaster.

More than a billion dollars in compensation has been paid out to the families affected by the blood scandal.
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CUPE library workers in Saskatoon insist on safer working conditions despite funding cuts

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dolores_21

“You start to see things with different eyes and you begin to recognize potential harms that
you have never noticed – situations you may have walked by hundreds of times.” That’s how CUPE health and safety activist Dolores Douglas describes attending health and safety training for the first time, 13 years ago. The course was an eye-opener about the hazards present in her workplace.

Read the full story on the CUPE National website.

Statement on La Loche Tragedy

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Photo: Fran Trudeau/Flickr

Photo: Fran Trudeau/Flickr

CUPE Saskatchewan and our members that work in schools across the province wish to express our deepest regrets for the tragedy that occurred in La Loche last week. Our condolences to the students and staff at the school and to the whole community of La Loche and the surrounding Dene Nations. Most importantly, our sympathy goes to the families and friends of the victims.

It is difficult to know when tragedy will strike. We can only support each other and work to address the root causes of such terrible events. As a society we must do more to support young people and to ensure that everyone has access to the services and resources they need.

Jackie Christianson, Chairperson of the Education Workers Steering Committee
Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

CUPE Saskatchewan urges health minister to support a new Health Accord

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Regina – CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham is urging the province’s health minister, Dustin Duncan, to support a new Health Accord at this week’s meeting of health ministers in Vancouver.
Graham wrote Minister Duncan on behalf of CUPE’s 30,000 members in Saskatchewan to inform the minister that CUPE is encouraged by the new federal government’s commitment to negotiate a new accord.
Says Graham, “Our hope is that strengthening and expanding our public Medicare system will be a priority for the ministers who are meeting this week, as part of a newly negotiated public Health Accord.”

CUPE is encouraging all ministers of health to support a new Health Accord that includes the following elements:

  • Stable and adequate funding from the federal government, with annual increases established at a minimum 6%;
  • A national continuing care program that extends the principles of the Canada Health Act to long term care, home and community care and establishes minimum staffing and phasing out of for-profit delivery in this sector;
  • A national universal Pharmacare program that provides coverage to all Canadians through a national formulary, evidence-based evaluation of prescribing and protection from trade deals.

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LPN voted “Best Nurse” in Regina

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Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Brianne Cannon.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Brianne Cannon.

CUPE LPN Brianne Cannon was recently voted “Best Nurse” in Prairie Dog’s annual best of Regina contest.

Cannon is in her 13th year of nursing and has worked in a variety of capacities in the health sector. She has gained experience in surgical nursing and palliative care, but upon the birth of her eldest son, decided to move into the mother-baby unit. She was one of the first LPNs to work in neonatal care in Canada, as part of a special Calgary based pilot project.

“What motivates me at work is to make everyone feel accepted and that they belong there. I believe everyone, no matter their background, deserves respect. Whether you are a high-ranking CEO or a person struggling with addictions – you should receive the same care,” said Cannon. “That’s how I treat my patients; like my friends, like my family.”

The biggest challenge at work is seeing people receiving unequal treatment. “I really think that the reason I was nominated is that I treat everyone with the utmost respect. Respect is a choice. Maybe I don’t agree with what a patient is doing, but it’s not my place. I don’t live their life.”

Cannon’s favourite part of the job is working with newborn babies.

“It’s a pretty big honour to be with someone when they need you. You start as a stranger, and people put their trust in you as a health care provider.”

Having worked in palliative, surgery, and mother-baby care, Cannon reflects that it is a huge honour to be with people in their vulnerable lifetime moments.

“To be with patients and their families at their bedside, to be with people who are scared and sick, to be with new parents is just an honour. I am humbled to be there for people in these moments.”

Cannon says that the one thing she would improve about the workplace is the ability for her to utilize all of her skills and work to full scope.

“I’ve worked in a lot of different environments, and I’ve always had to prove myself. I would love it if everyone understood that there’s a place for everyone.

“LPNs sometimes aren’t respected for the education, skills, and knowledge that we have. But as health care providers, as a team, we are much stronger together than divided, and the patients will benefit from us working more as a team.”

So, what’s it like for Cannon to win “Best Nurse” in Regina?

“I’m just super humbled and grateful; it’s a bit of a shock. It’s wonderful to get recognition when you feel like you try to do your best every day that you walk in.”

Gordon Campbell, President of the CUPE Health Care Council, adds, “On behalf of the Health Care Council, we congratulate Brianne on her recognition as Best Nurse and thank her for the pioneering contributions she has made as an LPN.”

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How to volunteer for English tutoring programs for refugees in Saskatchewan

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Photo: Front Porch Stapleton

Photo: Front Porch Stapleton

As part of our initiatives to welcome and support the arrival of Syrian refugees to the province, CUPE Saskatchewan is inviting CUPE members and Saskatchewan residents to take up the call for English tutors in the four cities in which newcomers are being resettled: Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Regina, and Saskatoon.

The Syrian refugee crisis is the largest refugee crisis since World War Two and this is a unique opportunity for our diverse members and all Saskatchewan residents to make connections and to make a difference in our communities. The following table lists the principal organizations and contact information for tutoring initiatives for Syrian refugees in Saskatchewan.

English Tutoring Opportunities for Refugees Across Saskatchewan

MOOSE JAW
Organization Moose Jaw Newcomer Welcome Centre
Website http://mjnwc.ca/volunteer/sign-up
Email Address mjmcgateway@mjmcinc.ca
Phone 306.692.6892
PRINCE ALBERT
Organization Prince Albert Literacy Network
Website http://www.princealbertliteracy.ca/contact-tlc.html
Email Address tlc.paln@sasktel.net
Phone 306.922.6852
REGINA
Organization Regina Public Library
Website http://www.reginalibrary.ca/literacy/volunteertutors.html
Email Form http://www.reginalibrary.ca/literacy/tutor_training.php
Phone 306.777.6009
SASKATOON
Organization Global Gathering Place
Website http://globalgatheringplace.com/welcome/
Email Address volunteer@globalgatheringplace.com
Phone 306.665.0268

Occupational Health and Safety Conference 2016

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OHS CON 2016 PosterBACK TO THE BASICS

April 21 – 22, 2016
Delta Bessborough Hotel
Saskatoon

EARLY REGISTRATION: Before March 21, 2016 // AFFILIATE: $125; NON AFFILIATE: $150

LATE REGISTRATION: After March 21, 2016 // AFFILIATE: $150; NON AFFILIATE: $175

 

 

HOW DO I ATTEND? 

1. Contact your CUPE local to approve sponsorship of your registration;

2. Download and complete the conference registration form and submit to the CUPE Saskatchewan office;

3. Book your accommodation if required.

WORKSHOPS

Identifying and Documenting Hazards
Learn techniques for body mapping, surveys, and inspections to identify hazards in the workplace, as well to develop methods for dealing with the hazards. Participants will have an opportunity to perform an inspection and develop recommendations around their findings.

Basics of Incident Investigations
Learn how to identify root causes of workplace incidents, injuries, and diseases, common routes of entry of toxic substances, and their role in the investigation process. We will review relevant sections of the OHS act. The participants will conduct in a mock incident investigation to allow them to practice their interviewing, data collection, and documentation skills.

Preventing Mental Injuries in the Workplace
New forms of work, job insecurity, work intensification, high demands, violence, and a resulting poor work-life balance are resulting in psychosocial and mental health problems in CUPE workplaces. This module will focus on the workplace as the cause of mental health issues, and not the individual. Participants will discuss strategies and actions that will actually help make workplaces psychologically healthier and safer.

PLUS: Intro to Asbestos and Howard’s Law and Intro to The Worker’s Advocate

Solidarity with striking UFCW workers at the Best Western Seven Oaks hotel in Regina

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UFCW 1400CUPE Saskatchewan supports members of UFCW Local 1400 who are on strike at the Best Western Seven Oaks Inn in Regina. We encourage CUPE members and all people passing through Regina to withdraw business from the Seven Oaks Inn for the duration of the strike.

For a list of alternate unionized hotels in the Regina area, please visit this page on the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour website.

We also encourage everyone who can to participate in the solidarity picket this Wednesday, January 6 at 5 PM. There will be coffee provided by the Regina and District Labour Council. The Facebook event page for this important solidarity action is here.

Location: Best Western Seven Oaks Inn, 777 Albert St, Regina, Saskatchewan

Time: 5 PM – 6 PM (or later), Wednesday, January 6

What: Solidarity Picket with striking UFCW 1400 members

CUPE Saskatchewan waves Bill C-377 out the door

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bill-c-377REGINA – CUPE Saskatchewan, representing 30,000 workers in the province, applauds the federal government for their decision to waive the onerous and additional reporting requirements for labour organizations under Bill C-377.

The Minister of National Revenue made the announcement yesterday that they would be waiving the requirement for labour organizations to submit detailed financial reports and information on political activities, as well as non-labour related activities.

The bill is scheduled to come into force December 30th, 2015 and the minister has indicated that that this move signals the government’s intent on repealing Bill C-377 altogether.

The ministry notes in a press release that legislation requiring unions to make financial information available to their members is already in place.

“We applaud the moves taken today by the government against this arbitrary bill that in all likeliness was a violation of the constitution and our charter rights,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.

“We are pleased to see the federal government make moves that will honour their election promise to repeal the bill.”

– 30 –

Contact: Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan, 306.757.1009

Union Asks Federal Minister of Health to Review Wall Government’s MRI Legislation

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REGINA – The Canadian Union of Public Employees Saskatchewan has sent a letter to the federal Minister of Health, the Honourable Jane Philpott, requesting a review of the Wall government’s Bill 179, permitting private user-pay MRI facilities.

The letter to Minister Philpott follows on the heels of news that the Saskatchewan Medical Association, which represents over 90 per cent of Saskatchewan physicians, expressed strong opposition to the legislation at an October 28 meeting with Saskatchewan’s Minister of Health Dustin Duncan.The letter to Ottawa from CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham states: “It is our understanding that [this] legislation violates the Canada Health Act both by allowing fees to be charged for medically necessary procedures and by undermining the fundamental principal of universal access to health care.”

On October 29, the union held a press conference with Regina family doctor Sally Mahood and legal expert Steven Shrybman, in whose legal opinion Bill 179 violates the Canada Health Act.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association, representing “the collective view of the medical profession in Saskatchewan,” has called the legislation “hasty,” noting that private user-pay MRI clinics do not appear to reduce wait times or improve patient care in provinces where they exist. The association’s briefing concludes with a call for a “strong publicly funded health care system where access to medical care is based on need and not the ability to pay.”

Graham’s letter to the federal minister requests that she review the provincial legislation to see if it violates the Canada Health Act and that if it does that she instruct the Government of Saskatchewan to comply with the Act. “In his Ministerial Mandate Letter to the new Minister of Health, Prime Minister Trudeau has expressed a commitment to protecting and renewing Canada’s public health care system. Our respectful request is in keeping with this mandate,” comments Graham.

Annual Convention 2016

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CONVENTION CALL FINAL_Nov 20_2016-1Delegates representing CUPE locals from across the province will gather in Saskatoon from March 9 – 11, 2016 for the CUPE Saskatchewan Annual Convention. The theme for this year’s convention is Building Community Power. During the three-day convention, delegates will set the direction for the year ahead, elect members to leadership positions, approve financial statements, learn about the work being done by our union and discuss the issues facing CUPE members and the public services we provide.

This year marks the 51st Annual Convention of CUPE Saskatchewan since its establishment in 1963. For over 50 years, CUPE Saskatchewan has united CUPE locals in our province to help build the power of workers and local communities, to defend the public services that serve all people in Saskatchewan, and to fight for social justice.

Join us as we renew our commitment to Building Community Power!

When: March 9 – 11, 2016
Where: Radisson Hotel, Saskatoon

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Mobilizing to support women and confront domestic violence

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During the holiday season, it’s important to remember that even small gifts can make a big difference in our communities. CUPE Saskatchewan’s Women’s Committee is encouraging CUPE locals and members to consider making a donation to a women’s shelter to support those in our community escaping domestic violence. See also the link to CUPE National’s new guide to domestic violence in the workplace at the end of this post.

CUPE Saskatchewan is also pleased to announce we will be joining the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour and PATHS, the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan, to mobilize and lobby on the issue of systemic intimate partner violence in the new year.

The following is a complete list of women’s shelters by area for donations:

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Sask Party Squanders Boom, Slashes University Funding

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Photo: University of Saskatchewan

While the University of Saskatchewan says that jobs will not be lost due to provincial cuts to education announced this week, the Canadian Union of Public Employees is concerned about the decision to drop $7.9 million for capital spending on crucial work such as maintenance.

The union is disappointed in the Brad Wall government for failing to adequately plan for Saskatchewan’s future.

“When you are forcing cuts on the educational institutions that train the next generation, and slashing spending on maintenance and research, it is safe to say that Brad Wall is looking for short-term fixes to long-term issues,” said Tom Graham, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Saskatchewan.

The union is concerned that the provincial government is downloading the cost of poor planning onto post-secondary institutions which then pass along cuts to workers and students.

“In an election year, the Sask Party refuses to acknowledge that they mismanaged the boom and are now slashing where they can,” said Graham. “The Sask Party is running election ads saying the opposition would take the province backwards, but it’s the current government that is starting to look reminiscent of decades past, when the Devine Conservatives drove Saskatchewan bankrupt.”

At the University of Saskatchewan, CUPE represents nearly 2,300 workers in maintenance, administration, and sessional instruction, among other areas. At the University of Regina, the union represents nearly 1,200 workers.

Attend CUPE Saskatchewan’s Winter School 2016

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Sask
All interested CUPE Saskatchewan union activists are encouraged to register to attend the CUPE Saskatchewan Winter School February 1 – 4, 2016 at the Temple Gardens Hotel and Spa in Moose Jaw. Courses offered include: Introduction to Pensions, Steward Learning Series, Using Our Power at Election Time, and Unionism on Turtle Island.

Three scholarships are available for CUPE members to attend:

1. Glen Makahonuk Scholarship
2. Two Scholarships
– One for Equity-Seeking Groups
– One for Young Worker Group

The scholarship application deadline is Tuesday, January 5, 2016. The deadline for registration and payment is Thursday, January 7, 2016.

For more information, download the brochure and registration form (includes scholarship application forms): CUPE Saskatchewan Winter School 2016 Brochure and Registration (PDF)

CUPE launches new TV ad

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This week, CUPE launched an ad criticizing the Saskatchewan government’s privatization agenda.

In 2009, Brad Wall said he would never allow someone “to use a bulging wallet to jump the queue.” Now his government is doing exactly that.

“We having growing concerns about the scale of privatization and what it will mean for families across this province,” said Gordon Campbell, president of the CUPE Health Care Council. “CUPE is committed to public delivery of health care in the province, but clearly the government has a different idea of what is best for the people of Saskatchewan as it continues to privatize cost-efficient and well-paying jobs in the province.”

The ad is running on TV stations and websites throughout the province.

Historic petition demonstrates there is no mandate to privatize

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CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham and Executive Assistant Andrew Loewen deliver Own It! petitions to the Legislature.

CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham and Executive Assistant Andrew Loewen deliver Own It! petitions to the Legislature.

REGINA – 19,346 Saskatchewan voters have signed an online and physical petition

saying no to privatization. Today the Own It! campaign and the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) delivered 17,247 physical petition signatures to the Legislature, calling on the Sask Party government to stop its risky and costly privatization agenda.

“The Sask Party government has outright sold a number of crown corporations, weakened our utility crowns, and has privatized bypasses, hospital laundry services, correctional food services, MRIs, and is even building privatized schools and a privatized prison,” said SFL President Larry Hubich. “The broad support for this petition demonstrates that there is no appetite in Saskatchewan for privatization,” he added.

This petition is one of the largest in Saskatchewan’s history, and shows that Saskatchewan voters are looking for investment into their crowns and public services, not a sell-off to out-of-province corporations.

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Saskatchewan CUPE activist Pearl Blommaert wins national Health and Safety Award

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PearlBlommaertFor more than 25 years, Sister Pearl Blommaert, CUPE National’s 2015 Health and Safety award winner, has worked tirelessly to improve health and safety standards for workers in Saskatchewan and across Canada.

In the early 1990s, Blommaert was instrumental in forcing her employer, and then the entire province of Saskatchewan, to adopt violence prevention policies and legislation. This was a first in Canadian Health and Safety Law: since then, all provinces except one have adopted similar legislation.

“It is with recognition for the tremendous support of my local and CUPE members in Saskatchewan that I accept this award,” said Blommaert, president of CUPE 4980. “I want to thank CUPE National’s Health and Safety committee and staff – who taught me that violence is not part of my job and for helping us improve health and safety regulations in Saskatchewan.”

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CUPE Saskatchewan congratulates CUPE National President-Elect Mark Hancock

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HancockCUPE Saskatchewan congratulates Mark Hancock, who was elected national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees on Wednesday, November 4 at CUPE’s 27th biennial national convention in Vancouver. Brother Hancock has been the President of CUPE BC since 2013. CUPE Saskatchewan also thanks Hancock’s challenger CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn for his dedication. Outgoing president Paul Moist served as president for 12 years before announcing his retirement in early October. CUPE Saskatchewan celebrates Brother Moist’s many achievements and years of service as national president.

Legal Opinion clear that Bill 179 violates the Canada Health Act

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Steven Shrybman and Dr. Sally Mahood address the media at press conference in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Legal expert Steven Shrybman and Dr. Sally Mahood address the media at a press conference in Regina, Saskatchewan. October 29, 2015.

A legal opinion commissioned by CUPE Saskatchewan shows that Bill 179, the Private MRI Facilities Licensing Act, is in violation of the Canada Health Act.

Bill 179 permits private MRI clinics to charge patients out-of-pocket user fees for MRI services, which will allow patients to jump the queue for diagnosis and treatment. In 2008, Premier Brad Wall told reporters that offering MRI services for a fee “seems to be outside the Canada Health Act” and was an area where the government did not want to tread.

“By creating two-tiered medical care, Bill 179 offends the criteria established by the Canada Health Act,” said Steven Shrybman, a lawyer with Goldblatt Partners LLP. “While privately funded MRIs are permitted in some provinces, in our opinion, the practice is unlawful under the Canada Health Act and fundamentally at odds with the most essential feature of Medicare, which is care according to need, not one’s ability to pay.”

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Own it! project gives Saskatchewan people chance to say YES to public services

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Own_It_Graphic

Sign the petition!

Is the privatization of Saskatchewan’s vital public services really happening?

You bet it is. It is real and it is taking place quietly all across our province — in our hospitals, schools, long term care facilities, and so much more.

Own it! Saskatchewan belongs to everyone is a new project that will give citizens a voice in a province-wide discussion about the future of public services and Crowns.

Saskatchewan’s public services belong to everyone. Let’s keep them strong!

Sign the Petition at OwnYourSask.ca and download and print the petition to get as many people as you can to say YES to keeping and strengthening our public services and Crown corporations.

Working together – we can make a difference!

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