In Saskatchewan, we are public service voters

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As CUPE members, we know that our work delivering a reliable network of public services enrich our communities and peoples’ lives. But, we need a government that will reliably fund and keep our services public. That’s why as we approach provincial and community elections this fall, it’s important to vote for public services.

Through the Public Service Voter campaign, CUPE Saskatchewan will highlight the many public services that keep our communities safe, cared for, and an affordable place to live and raise our families – and we will also highlight the facts and track record of governments at the community and provincial level.

Campaign information will be shared on CUPE Saskatchewan’s facebook page and available online at: www.publicservicevoter.ca

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Saskatchewan’s government needs to step up and expand supplemental pay for workers on the frontline

Judy Henley, President of CUPE Saskatchewan

CUPE says the announcement by the provincial government on Wednesday introducing a new phase of the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program for workers providing care for seniors is a welcome first step, but the union calls for the program to be urgently expanded.

“We are at a critical stage of a second wave in this pandemic. The government must urgently expand the wage supplement program to the many other caregivers and workers on the frontline facing increasing workload demands while caring for Saskatchewan’s most vulnerable during the pandemic,” says Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Far too many front-line workers are left facing this pandemic with low pay and far too little provincial government support, and the need to expand this program is now without delay.”

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Lack of action on COVID-19 putting workers at risk, CUPE demands province-wide mandatory masking policy

REGINA – CUPE Saskatchewan is deeply disappointed in the Sask Party government’s unwillingness to take immediate action to protect workers and families from the spread of COVID-19.

“The provincial government’s so-called ‘return to basics’ approach to COVID fails to implement even the most basic regulations to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Closing hookah bars and shutting down bars earlier will not do enough to curb the ballooning rates of infection.”

CUPE is also concerned that the province is only implementing mandatory masking for indoor public spaces in communities with a population of over 5,000 people.

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Regina mayoral candidate Sandra Masters campaigning on cuts

One candidate for Regina’s mayor, Sandra Masters, is campaigning on making sweeping broad-based cuts to our city’s operating budget that funds the delivery of public services and the jobs of civic workers delivering those services. Masters is one of nine candidates vying for the job of mayor in the upcoming election on November 9, which also includes incumbent mayor Michael Fougere.

Master’s platform promises to: “Conduct an operations efficiency review within the first six months, and am committed to finding 15 % in savings from increased operational efficiencies.”

It’s a reckless cut that would undoubtedly put at risk the very services we rely on in Regina. To put the cut into perspective, a 15% reduction in city operations would mean approximately $70 million in cuts to Regina’s overall operational budget of over $472 million.

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Misleading claims of a gold-plated Saskatoon library reveals misguided platform of cuts by Norris

Far from offering fresh eyes and new perspective, Saskatoon mayoral candidate Rob Norris is campaigning on cuts to public services with misleading claims about the new central library planned to open in 2026.

In his platform, Norris pledges to: “Shelving Charlie Clark’s gold-plated $134 million downtown library.” Is the plan to build a new central library in Saskatoon really “gold-plated”? Not when you look at the business case and the facts. 

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Recognizing the courage, commitment of CUPE Health Care Workers

Our public health care system and its over 14,000 CUPE Local 5430 health care workers on the frontlines and behind the scenes have shown incredible courage, commitment, and compassion in the unprecedented fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and caring for patients and residents during a public health crisis. During Health Care Providers’ Week in Saskatchewan from October 26 to November 1, 2020, let’s recognize and extend our deepest gratitude for our health care workers keeping our loved ones and communities safe, cared for, and strong.

From licensed practical nurses (LPNs) to continuing care assistants, medical laboratory and diagnostic technologists to technicians, food service workers to environmental service workers, administrative to clerical, maintenance to security, and so many more classifications. Let’s take a moment to applaud all the work that they do.

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Sask Party fiscal approach appears penny-wise, actually pound-foolish

We can’t afford a government that insists on behaving in a financially irresponsible manner by outsourcing the financing and maintenance of our public infrastructure for private profit and public loss, writes Angella MacEwen, CUPE Senior Economist.

The Sask Party has a history of making decisions they claim are fiscally responsible but end up costing the people of Saskatchewan more in the long run.

Their track record on building infrastructure is a prime example. It’s cost us more, delivered less, and pushed out local businesses in favour of larger firms from Alberta or overseas.

A truly financially responsible decision considers the benefits along with the costs. By investing in infrastructure through the failed P3 model, the Sask Party has shown they embraced privatization without fully evaluating the costs and consequences, even when the auditor makes them show their homework.

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Review finds P3 privatization still costs more, delivers less

A new report confirms that the Sask Party’s drive to privatize roads, schools and hospitals through public-private partnerships (P3s) is expensive and risky, setting our communities up for long-term problems.

The findings are detailed in an updated edition of Asking the Right Questions: A Guide for Municipal Officials Considering P3s, released by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). The guide documents the many costs and consequences of federal, provincial and municipal privatization schemes.

Asking the right questions has new evidence that P3s remain expensive and unaccountable, deliver lower-quality services and facilities, and are a bad deal for workers and communities. The report finds the arguments that P3 agencies, such as SaskBuilds, use to promote the schemes are based on flimsy facts and flawed assumptions.

“The Sask Party government has signed away billions in public funds for costly P3 deals, adding to the debt and locking us into 30 years of expensive private financing, shoddy construction, and problematic upkeep. The fact remains P3s are the worst way to build public infrastructure. Let’s set our kids and our grandkids up for a better future by ditching these bad deals once and for all,” said CUPE Saskatchewan President Judy Henley.

Some new examples of P3 problems in the guide are deals brokered by the Sask Party. P3s like the Regina Bypass are justified with secret reports that can’t be independently verified. Costs for the Regina Bypass P3 have ballooned from $400 million to nearly $2 billion.

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CUPE: This election is a chance to fix long-term care and save lives

Original editorial published in The Prince Albert Daily Herald on October 7, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has sounded the alarm on the state of long-term care in Canada.

Canadians have been horrified to learn that four out of five lives lost due to COVID-19 have been residents or workers in long-term care facilities – the worst record in the developed world. A report from the Canadian Forces, who were deployed to help manage outbreaks in several care homes, put into gruesome detail just how deep the crisis in long-term care had become, and sent shockwaves across the nation.

While the public is mostly just waking up to this reality, if you ask one of the thousands of CUPE members who work in long-term care in Saskatchewan, they will tell you that this crisis isn’t new. They will tell you that this crisis has been brewing for years. They will tell you COVID-19 fell like an avalanche onto a system that had already been broken and left totally unprepared by decades of underfunding and understaffing.

The election on October 26 is our best chance to reverse course and fix long-term care. Seven months after the novel coronavirus arrived, there’s no longer any excuse for being unprepared, and there’s no excuse for continued inaction.

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Labour Day 2020: Workers, public services deserve recognition for keeping our communities safe

A message from Judy Henley, President of CUPE Saskatchewan, printed in the Labour Day feature of the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix (print issue: Friday, September 4, 2020).

This week I am reflecting on what Labour Day meant historically, what it will look like during the COVID-19 pandemic and what it may look like in the future.

Labour Day, a statutory holiday in Canada since 1894, was created to honour the labour movement and the social and economic achievement of workers. Every year we celebrate the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.

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