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CUPE Saskatchewan questions the health care security review underway by an external consultant with a history of job cuts and contracting-out of public sector jobs to private firms.
On April 18th the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) issued a memo announcing a province-wide review of security services, using an external consultant named Tony Weeks. In announcing the review, Saskatchewan Health Authority vice-president Andrew Will told media, “Definitely we’re seeing more events where staff and/or patient safety is jeopardized.”
“There are thousands of front-line health care workers in Saskatchewan who can attest that incidents of violence in health care facilities are on the increase,” says CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham.
Statistics also bear this out. Last August, the former Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region reported that “acts of violence increased from 2015/2016 to 2016/2017 by 254 incidents.”
Death threats have become routine and are experienced not only by security personnel but by nurses, continuing care aides, and other health care workers. “No one should have to endure threats on their life for going to work in health care,” says Graham.
“Everyone can agree with Saskatchewan Health Authority vice-president Andrew Will that increased violence in health facilities is a serious matter. However, safety concerns in some health facilities have been downplayed by management in recent years. This begs the question of why this security review is taking place only now, as part a top-down restructuring process that is driven by cost savings rather than public health,” says Graham.
Registration is now open for the Back to Batoche Canoe Trip 2018. During this annual voyage, participants navigate the waters of the South Saskatchewan River by canoe beginning at Clarkboro Ferry Crossing (formerly Warman Ferry Crossing) and arriving at the historic Métis community of Batoche—learning Aboriginal culture, history and traditions along the way. The CUPE Saskatchewan canoe trip coincides with the Back to Batoche celebrations of the Métis Nation in Saskatchewan.
After the canoe trip, participants are encouraged to attend the Back to Batoche festivities. Spaces are limited! Register today! Please provide your email address with registration.
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May 1st is International Workers’ Day (May Day). Today we celebrate the achievements of the trade union movement and express solidarity to all workers in the struggle for labour rights and economic justice around the world. Labour rights are human rights!
International solidarity is one of the most powerful tools we have to challenge economic injustice and income inequality, defend public services against privatization, and support the right of all workers to organize into unions and fight for decent jobs, pay, pensions for retirement security, working conditions and dignity.
April 28 is a National Day of Mourning to remember those who tragically lost their lives while at work and to recognize those who endured an injury or acquired an illness or disease as a result of their work. Sadly, 27 Saskatchewan people died as a result of their job last year (2017), not including farm-related fatalities or other workplaces that are not covered or reported by workers’ compensation. Over 7,888 workplace injuries occurred in Saskatchewan workplaces last year and were accepted by Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board, among the over 28,952 claims reported to WCB.
On the National Day of Mourning for Workers Killed or Injured, we remember those we have lost and we renew our resolve as workers and union members to defend and improve workplace safety standards.
Attend a ceremony of observance in your community on Saturday, April 28, 2018. Click “Continue Reading” for event listings.
With $54.2 million cut from K-12 education funding last year, the restoration of $34 million in last week’s budget maintains a $20 million cut to K-12 education, despite increased student enrollment. The operating funding for school divisions remains $10.5 million below 2015/16 levels, despite an increase of almost 9,000 students and 18 new schools opened.
“In addition, the government built 9 joint P3 schools between 2015 and 2017, even though both Alberta and Manitoba have found P3 schools cost far more than the traditional route. The maintenance costs and interest costs for the new P3 schools, meanwhile, is up 39% in this budget, from $9.7 million to $13.5 million. This will be a line item in the budget for the next 30 years and there is no way of knowing how much these costs will increase over that period,” says Jackie Christianson, Chairperson of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers Steering Committee, which represents over 7,000 education support workers across the province.
The provincial budget also eliminated the General Proficiency Award program, erasing rewards for 500 promising students. At the same time, increased funding was allocated to private (Independent and Associate) schools. Since 2012, public funding has increased 90% for Independent schools and 29% for Associate schools. “Budget decisions such as this make you wonder why these schools are getting significant increases while public schools are suffering,” says Christianson.
CUPE members will see four takeaways from the provincial budget that maintains many of the drastic cuts from last year’s budget. CUPE Research provides a detailed analysis of the Saskatchewan provincial budget by sector.
Last year’s provincial budget introduced some of the most dramatic cuts to Saskatchewan’s public services and social safety net since the years of Grant Devine. Across the province, people spoke up for their communities. Everyday Saskatchewan people lobbied, petitioned, rallied, marched, and demonstrated in defense of libraries, K-12 education, universities, municipal services, health care, rural bus service, early childhood supports, funeral services for low-income people, and more.
As a result, the Saskatchewan Party government was forced to listen and walk back some of the cuts. But many of those devastating cuts remain in place.
“At the same time last year’s budget introduced sweeping cuts and proposed rollbacks, on the revenue side, the increase in sales and consumption taxes hit workers and everyday people the hardest,” says Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.
“What we would have liked to see in this year’s budget is a move toward fair taxation, where big corporations and the wealthiest residents pay their fair share. The reason consumption taxes are called ‘regressive’ is because they hit the people with the least money the hardest,” says Graham.
On behalf of 30,000 CUPE members across Saskatchewan, we mourn in solidarity with the victims and families touched by the Humboldt Broncos Jr ‘A’ Hockey Club bus tragedy resulting from a collision over the weekend on Friday, April 6, 2018 at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 335 approximately 30 kilometers north of Tisdale as the team was travelling by bus headed to Nipawin. Of the 29 people aboard, 15 lives have been lost and many others remain in hospital with serious injuries. We will always remember the young lives of the Humboldt Broncos that have been lost too soon and the lives of the bus driver, coaches, athletic therapist, statistician and radio announcer.
We know there is comfort and strength in the power of community as we all join together to share in the grief of this tragedy, offer out heartfelt condolences to the families who have lost a loved one and extend our support to those being cared for in hospital forever hopeful that they will recover.
Despite increased student enrollment, K-12 Education in Saskatchewan has been underfunded for years. Last year’s Saskatchewan Party budget doubled down with a dramatic $54.2 million in cuts to Saskatchewan schools and classroom supports. Annual funding was slashed by $500.00 for every student. At the same time, the government raised $67 million in education property taxes that was funneled into general revenue instead of into education.
“After last year’s budget, programs for intensive needs pre-school children were eliminated, teachers and support staff positions were cut, student transportation was reduced, and the days and hours of work of many support staff, who already had low wages, were slashed,” says Jackie Christianson, Chair of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers’ Steering Committee, which represents over 7,000 education support workers across the province.
There have been cuts and/or reduced hours for front-line staff across school divisions including Chinook, Good Spirit, Horizon, Prairie South, Prairie Spirit, Prairie Valley, Regina Public, Saskatchewan Rivers, Saskatoon Public, St Paul’s RCSSD, and Sun West.
“All evidence shows P3s are more expensive, less accountable and transparent than traditional ways of building public infrastructure. In fact, our government is on the hook for about $5 billion in payments to P3 companies over the next 30 years,” writes CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham in a letter to the editor published in the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “The Sask. Party would be wise to abandon this model, save money in the long run and invest more in public services.”