Virtual Health Care consultation must not open the door to further privatization, says CUPE Local 5430

The Ministry of Health is conducting a review on the future of virtual health care in Saskatchewan, but CUPE Local 5430 is concerned that this may open the door to further privatization.

“There are many benefits to expanding the role of virtual health care, however, it is critical that the Government of Saskatchewan ensures that virtual care is fully integrated into our public health system,” said Bashir Jalloh, president of CUPE Local 5430 and a nuclear medicine technologist. “Given this government’s track record we are concerned that this may open the door to further privatization.”

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CUPE education workers Day of Action

Saskatchewan education support workers from eight different school divisions gathered at the Saskatchewan Legislature this week for a Day of Action to demand better funding for education.

“Earlier this year, the government rolled out its “Back on Track” budget. It’s a disastrous budget and a blatant attack on public education,” said Rob Westfield, chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “The budget does not come close to covering the basic operating costs school boards must budget for and it is the students who will pay the price once again.”

Karla Sastaunik, an education assistant at Good Spirit School Division, was one of the 50 members who were in attendance.

“While this government states it has improved and increased funding to school divisions – it’s all smoke and mirrors. My specific division received a .83% increase but the cost of fuel, the bargained wage increases, and the cost of inflation has risen exponentially. Something has to give, and it has,” said Sastaunik. “I have been doing this work for 35 years and over the years my schedule has been cut from having hours per week to spend with students in a specific class to sometimes only having minutes per week to try and accomplish the same goals,”

Many school divisions have already announced cuts, including Chinook School Division who has laid off 20 teachers and cut hours for all education assistants.

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CUPE Saskatchewan calls for immediate minimum wage increase to $15.00 per hour, says workers need relief now

CUPE Saskatchewan is calling for an immediate increase of the minimum wage in Saskatchewan to $15.00 per hour.

The renewed call comes after the government announced it will increase the minimum wage, but not until October 2022 and only to $13.00 per hour.

“Saskatchewan workers need relief now, not in months or years from now. At $11.81 per hour, full-time workers can’t afford the basic costs of living and are increasingly relying on food banks to feed their families,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan currently has the lowest minimum wage in Canada at $11.81 per hour, $2.19 short of Canada’s average minimum wage of $14.09 per hour.

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Workers’ Day of Mourning 2022: The fight for safety at work continues during the pandemic and beyond

Today on the National Day of Mourning for Workers, we remember and mourn our co-workers, friends, neighbours and loved ones that were killed or injured on the job and those made ill from their work.

Last year, 31 workers in Saskatchewan lost their lives because of work-related incidents. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Saskatchewan’s Occupational Health & Safety Act and the third year the Day of Mourning is observed during an ongoing pandemic. These anniversaries highlight the importance of advocating for improved workers’ rights to safe working conditions and to ensure employers and governments are held accountable for work-related injury, illness and death.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend the vigils being held across the province. More information available at: https://sfl.sk.ca/events/international-day-of-mourning

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CUPE municipal workers stand with Esterhazy workers at SUMA convention

CUPE represents over 5,000 municipal workers in 40 locals across Saskatchewan. Among these locals only the Town of Esterhazy is not protected by a collective agreement.

This weekend, Joe Richardson, president of CUPE 5428, joined the Municipal Employees’ Steering Committee (MESC) at the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association AGM to demand a fair deal for Esterhazy workers.

“Three years is too long to go without a collective agreement,” said Dylan Breland, Vice-president of CUPE Saskatchewan and a member of the MESC. “We are here today to urge the Town of Esterhazy to make bargaining a first collective agreement a priority. We also want to show the members in Esterhazy that Canada’s largest union has their back.”

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CUPE Saskatchewan calls for increase in funding for Saskatoon SPCA

CUPE Saskatchewan is calling on the City of Saskatoon to provide the SPCA with the funding needed to provide pound services for Saskatoon’s lost, abandoned, and homeless animals.

“The Saskatoon SPCA provides an important public health and safety service for the largest city in the province,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “The hard-working staff of the SPCA, represented by CUPE Local 3477, are dedicated to improving the quality of life for Saskatoon’s animals through education, adoption, and upholding animal welfare legislation.”

As Saskatoon continues to grow, so has the demand for pound services. But funding from the City of Saskatoon has not kept pace. The SPCA is only receiving 37 percent of the funds needed to operate the pound from the city.

“Without an immediate increase in funding from the City of Saskatoon, the SCPA has said they will no longer be able to provide pound services for the community,” added Henley. “This would have a devastating impact on CUPE members, but also the vital services the SPCA provides to the city.”

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Budget 2022-23: Back on Track? Not for Libraries

For the second year in a row, Saskatchewan libraries have received no funding increase in the provincial budget. With inflation on the rise, this means our libraries will struggle.

It means no budget for much needed health and safety measures for staff, and could impact public programming, branch operations and accessibility for patrons.

The funding freeze will have an even greater impact on the regional (rural) library systems, since provincial funding accounts for a larger share of their budgets compared to the municipal library systems. This freeze will have a significant impact on the ability to support accessible library services and infrastructure, including internet connectivity and the Single Integrated Library System (SILS).

If you are concerned about the future of Saskatchewan libraries, sign the pledge.

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Budget 2022-23 was a fail for higher education

As CUPE research dives into the fine print of the 2022-23 provincial budget, it is clear that post-secondary education was given the short end of the stick.

While there was an increase in funding for capital projects, there was no investment in students and no help for skyrocketing tuition fees. If you combine all the budget lines (operating, supplementary, scholarship and capital), here is the annual increase to funding this year:

  • U of R: 1.1% increase
  • FNUC: 0%
  • U of S: -0.3% decrease

With rising inflation, the cost of doing business is increasing. With no funding increase from the province, these costs will be passed on to students.

Budget 2022: Back on track? Not for universities and students.

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Sask. Party government budget another fail for workers and public services

The Sask. Party government has done little to address the struggles working people are facing, and opens the door for further cuts and privatization in health care, education, libraries, universities and the social service’s sector.

“This budget brings no relief for everyday people who are struggling to make ends meet. The year-over-year increase in Saskatchewan’s consumer price index was 4.7% for February, but wages in this province are not keeping up,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “We have the lowest minimum wage in the country, and too many workers – especially in our lowest paid sectors like community-based organizations – have gone years without a meaningful wage increase to keep up with the rising costs.”

The pandemic has shone a huge spotlight on the cracks in our public services. But despite the clear need for more investment, this budget still failed on several fronts. The education sector continues to face budget restraints with the annual increase failing to keep up with the rising costs of running a school division. Community-based organizations, such as childcare centres, group homes, and addiction treatment received paltry increases, and no commitment to multi-year funding.

“This budget completely misses the mark when it comes to investing in public services. What we see is inadequate funding for public services, while opening the door to further privatization in health care,” added Henley. “Our schools will still be overcrowded, our hospitals understaffed, and our community-based organizations with barely enough funding to keep the doors open. It is also concerning that Scott Moe has completely failed to recognize and address the ongoing staffing crisis in health care which is leading to burnout, rural health centre shutdowns, and service reductions.”

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