Balancing budget on the backs of workers just plain wrong, says CUPE Saskatchewan

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

REGINA: The Government of Saskatchewan has sent a letter to all public sector employers calling for wage reductions. This move is a step back for public services and the working people who provide them, says CUPE Saskatchewan.

“Public sector workers did not cause Brad Wall’s billion dollar deficit – Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party government did,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Wages for public sector workers barely keep up with inflation, and in many cases they have fallen behind. Many CUPE workers in education, health care, and social services have seen their workload balloon while their wages stagnate. Asking these workers to pay the price for Brad Wall’s fiscal mismanagement is unfair.

“Every citizen of Saskatchewan should be concerned about what this means for the quality of public services in this province. In the name of balancing the books, are children going to lose their educational assistants or librarians? Are seniors going to lose hours of care?” added Graham.

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CUPE concerned about impact health care ‘Superboard’ may have on quality of care

REGINA: CUPE has serious concerns about how the creation of one province-wide health care superboard will impact workers, patients, and quality of care.

“Health care restructuring will disrupt the established systems and relationships of providing health care in the province,” said Gordon Campbell, president of CUPE Health Care Council. “Today’s announcement creates more uncertainty for frontline workers and for rural communities across Saskatchewan. It is also questionable that any cost savings will result.”

Past experiences from across the country raise several flags when it comes to reorganization. Alberta has faced many challenges since merging all of its health regions into one. A report written for the government of Alberta raised several concerns with the larger system, including that the structure is confusing to navigate for patients and the general public and that staff do not know who they report to or who they can go to for assistance and support.

“We are concerned that one central superboard will be less responsive and harder to navigate for patients and communities,” said Campbell. “Will this lead to reduced services and a loss of decision making in communities, especially in rural communities? What will this mean for access to health care in communities like Preeceville, Wawota, or Grenfell that have already been experiencing issues?”

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Graham: Public sector workers did not cause Wall’s deficit

Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan_background_WEB

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan, responds to recent comments made by Premier Wall about the provincial deficit and potential public sector cuts.

Message from the President:

Brad Wall is suggesting that the key to remedying the province’s economy lies in taking money out of the pockets of hard working Saskatchewan public servants. He also hopes that the provider unions and others will show good will and good faith in what I assume from his comments is accepting job loss and lower wages.

Public sector workers did not cause Wall’s billion dollar deficit – Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party government did. Public sector workers, at least those I’m privileged to represent, have seen their wages barely keep up with the inflation rate, and in many cases they have fallen behind. Now we are expected to show good will when the Premier has not had the decency to talk to those affected before making his public musings.

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National Day of Remembrance and Action to End Violence Against Women: December 6

womens_remebrance_day_eng_bThe National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women was established to honour victims of the December 6, 1989 massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal, where 14 women were murdered because they were women. One of those women, Maryse Laganière, was a CUPE member who worked at the school.

Canada’s labour movement has shown leadership in making workplaces safer for women and advancing the well-being and rights of women in all areas of society. It’s at the heart of what we do.

Let’s remember and work for change to end violence against women, and all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination in the workplace, at home, and in the community.

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Federal Minister of Health tells Saskatchewan to pull to the plug on fee for service MRI

keep-mris-publicThe hard work by CUPE Saskatchewan and our allies to protect public health care from two-tier privatization has resulted in a win with the federal Minister of Health advising the provincial government its user-pay MRI scan legislation undermines public health care and should come to an end.

In 2014, the Saskatchewan government first announced it would be tabling legislation allowing for profit corporations to charge individuals for medically necessary MRI testing. They have since tabled legislation expanding privatization to allow for user-pay CT scans as well.

The Saskatchewan Party government claims that privatization is the answer for reducing wait times, but this contradicts evidence and expert opinion while striking at the foundational principle of Medicare: equal access to health care based on need rather than private wealth. Private clinics also hurt the public system by taking professionals and resources from the public system.

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Hands Off Public Services, says CUPE to the Sask Government

Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan_background_WEB

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

REGINA – The government of Saskatchewan has announced a $1 billion deficit and is moving forward with significant cuts to health care and a hiring freeze across government.

“Public sector workers did not cause this deficit. Bad government decisions caused this deficit,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “And now the quality of the public services that Saskatchewan families depend on is at risk.”

Front line staff in health care, universities, education and community based organizations provide invaluable services to Saskatchewan communities. Many sectors, such as health care and education, are already facing budget shortfalls.

“During the election, the government promised an investment in long term care. They promised investments in education,” said Graham. “Now they are implementing a hiring freeze on front line staff. It is essential that we properly staff education and health care.”

“We know we are facing challenges as a province, but it is about the choices the government makes,” said Graham.

“Will they choose to ensure that Saskatchewan people have access to quality public services? Or will they choose to move forward with more bad choices like costly P3 agreements, Lean consultants and selling profitable crown assets, like liquor stores and SaskTel.”


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CUPE and allies say no to for-profit plasma

press-conference-on-forprofit-plasma_nov-15-2016The federal government should stop private for-profit companies from collecting and selling our blood products, including plasma. This is the message CUPE and other blood safety and public health care advocates delivered Tuesday on Parliament Hill.

“We are asking for a moratorium on all licenses granted or pending to Canadian Plasma Resources so we can secure the safety and integrity of our Canadian blood supply, as it has been acknowledged that none of the plasma collected by these new private blood brokers will benefit Canadian patients,” said Kat Lanteigne, executive director of BloodWatch. “This is an urgent and pressing issue that Minister Philpott needs to address in an open and transparent manner.”

Speaking at a press conference with NDP Health Critic Don Davies, advocates including the Canadian Health Coalition and the Canadian Federation of Nurses expressed their concern with private, for-profit blood clinics, especially during a time when Canadian Blood Services is trying to expand their plasma collection sites.

Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan, voiced CUPE’s concerns about Canada’s ability to secure our domestic supply of plasma. Saskatchewan is the only province where a private for-profit plasma collection clinic is currently operating, and it is important to prevent this bad idea from spreading.


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Rushed review of K-12 education system misguided

Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan_background_WEB

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

REGINA – The announcement of a rushed one-month review of Saskatchewan’s K – 12 education system is another misguided step in the provincial government’s so-called transformational change agenda, according to CUPE.


“We don’t need a rushed review looking for pocket change because of the provincial government’s growing deficit. We need education support workers and resources for our children to receive the quality education they deserve,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.


Education Minister Don Morgan announced that the review will look to reduce and amalgamate school divisions and may even fundamentally remove the democratic system of elected school board trustees in favour of appointees.


“The Minister appears to be relying on anecdotes to justify a misguided overhaul of the education system instead of doing the homework,” says Graham. “There is no evidence amalgamations would achieve any cost savings, and clearly the government hasn’t learned from its past mistakes of failing to properly consult with those they will affect with their decisions.”


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WCB recommendations deserve full, timely implementation

Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan_background_WEB

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

REGINA – CUPE Saskatchewan is calling for the full and timely implementation of the eleven recommendations made by the Workers’ Compensation Act Committee of Review in their final report released today. A Committee of Review, comprised of equal employer and employee representatives, is struck every four years to conduct a review of Saskatchewan’s workers’ compensation system by legislative requirement. The recommendations have the unanimous support of committee members.

“The recommendations of the committee make a lot of common sense to improve the workers’ compensation system for injured workers in our province, and they should be implemented without delay,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Injured workers are, in fact, still waiting for some recommendations to be implemented from past reports made in 2011 and earlier. This delay should not be the case moving forward including those recommendations requiring amendments to legislation for implementation.”

Among the eleven overarching recommendations made in the final report of the Committee of Review includes the need for a significant change to customer service and culture of the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) to better serve injured workers, the addition of part-time members to the Board, a 30-day benchmark to address a backlog of board-level claim appeals, and improved coordination of benefits to ensure no worker is disadvantaged in a work-related motor-vehicle accident.

“We are encouraged to see the government already move forward on the aspects of one recommendation calling for an enhancement to policy and amendments to legislation addressing psychological injury coverage,” said Graham. The recommendation also notes the need to have caseworkers dedicated to psychological injury claims, which remains unaddressed. “We hope to see the same level of commitment to implement the full aspects of the remaining recommendations in a timely manner.”

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