5.8 per cent cuts for post-secondary institutions a step backwards for Saskatchewan, says CUPE

Provincial budget cuts to Saskatchewan’s universities could lead to major job loss and unaffordable tuition hikes, warns the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The Saskatchewan Government announced a 5.8 per cent reduction in funding for post-secondary institutions in the province of Saskatchewan. For the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan, it means $25 million less in funding. The government is also requiring the University of Saskatchewan to provide $20 million from its base budget to support the College of Medicine. Colleges and technical institutes are taking a hit as well. These cuts are on top of the mid-year reductions to the universities of $6.7 million announced by the province in November 2016.

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Libraries left feeling the pain after latest Sask Party budget

Featured: CUPE member

SASKATOON: Yesterday’s budget eliminated provincial funding for public libraries in Regina and Saskatoon and cut funding for regional libraries in half, or by $3.5 million. CUPE is concerned about the impact this will have on libraries across the province – and for the municipalities that suddenly have to plan for the downloading of services.

“Libraries are a vital part of communities across Saskatchewan, and the services they provide enrich the lives of many,” said Rhonda Heisler, CUPE library sector coordinator. “The Saskatchewan Government’s cuts to libraries will have a devastating impact on the many people who use library services and the many hard working and dedicated public servants who work in libraries.”

CUPE represents 722 library workers who provide frontline services to residents in six regional libraries across the province and in Regina and Saskatoon public libraries. The primary job classifications are librarian, library clerk, library archive technician, and page. The vast majority of library workers are women (85 per cent), and many library workers are in part time or casual positions.

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Sask Party budget punishes working families for government’s mismanagement while rewarding corporations, says CUPE

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

REGINA: The latest provincial budget will not put the province back on fiscal track and will have a detrimental effect on public services in this province and on the lives of those who provide them, according to CUPE.

“The budget paints a clear picture of how poorly our province has been run over the last nine years, and it is not pretty,” said Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “The Sask Party’s reckless decisions, like building P3 schools, embracing Lean contracts, and selling off public assets, got us into this mess. And now the only solution they have for a situation they created is to punish frontline workers and cut public services while decreasing taxes for their rich corporate donors.”

This budget included cuts to education funding, selling off the Saskatchewan Transportation Corporation, increases to long term care costs for families, reduction to regional parks funding, massive cuts for regional libraries, and funding decreases to post-secondary education.

Economic multipliers show that cuts to public spending are much worse for the economy than tax increases would be. Recent reports from the International Monetary Fund and Europe admit that austerity measures created economic hardship for the population but also increased their deficits and debts.

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Cutting public sector workers wages would be unfair and unwise

In a letter published in The Regina Leader-Post and The Saskatoon Star Phoenix, President Tom Graham makes the case a 3.5 per cent cut to compensation for public sector workers in the upcoming provincial budget will not only be grossly unfair and possibly illegal; it will also be bad for the economy.

The full letter, as published, is below:

Cutting public sector workers wages would be unfair and unwise

Published on: March 21, 2017 in The Regina Leader-Post (A5) and The Saskatoon Star Phoenix (A5)

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Graham: Rally for Saskatchewan shows solidarity to resist austerity cuts, rollbacks, and privatization

Message from the President

Tom Graham, President, CUPE Saskatchewan

Last week on International Women’s Day, members of CUPE alongside other public sector unions and concerned residents, demonstrated against the Sask Party government’s short-sighted financial mismanagement and its harmful cuts to public services and the very people who work each and every day to provide them. It was reported to be the largest rally in recent years. It is also a time when so very much is at stake.

When the Premier talks about firing frontline workers, and making cuts to public services and funding for municipalities, he is not offering any real solutions to the deficit, and he is not showing good will.

When the Premier and Finance Minister talk about everything being on the table, they should stop deflecting accountability and start by reviewing costly political spending decisions – such as expensive P3 privatization contracts that are expected to be in the billions of dollars over the next 30 years, and the misguided decision to sell off profitable crown assets and public liquor stores which will see the province forego needed revenue and good jobs being lost.

The deficit will not be solved by drastic reductions to key public services such as health, education and social services. Balancing the budget through cuts to public services and on the backs of public sector workers isn’t just unfair, it’s bad for the economy. Instead, the government should focus on growing and diversifying the economy, and maintaining the spending power of Saskatchewan people instead of putting people out of work.

I encourage all members to learn more about real solutions to the deficit and share the report by CUPE Economist, Toby Sanger, entitled: Debunking the Deficit: How Saskatchewan can get back on fiscal track without cuts or austerity.

Approaching what is expected to be a dire budget with even more drastic cuts presented by the provincial government on March 22, CUPE Saskatchewan pledges to continue standing up for public services, speaking out against harmful cuts and costly privatization, and defending the very people who are dedicated to providing public services including CUPE members in health care, K-12 education, municipalities, universities, libraries, and community-based organizations.

The rally last week is more than one demonstration. It is a growing solidarity to resist reckless cuts and privatization.

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CUPE Education Workers’ Steering Committee launches radio ad campaign

CUPE education workers have launched a new radio ad campaign to voice their concerns about the Sask Party’s plan for the education sector.

The ads are running across the province the week before the provincial budget on March 22.

The provincial budget is expected to introduce significant changes to the education sector, including amalgamations, a decrease in funding, a 3.5 per cent wage rollback for staff, and the possible removal of elected school board trustees.

You can listen to the ads here:

CUPE is encouraging concerned citizens to contact their MLA as these changes will affect Saskatchewan students. You can learn more and take action at www.wheresthefunding.ca.

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New report debunks the deficit in Saskatchewan: “It’s not as bad as they are saying”

A new report from CUPE senior economist Toby Sanger entitled ‘Debunking the Deficit’ challenges the Sask Party government’s declaration of a fiscal crisis. CUPE released this report with a presentation at their convention in Regina.

“Putting the province’s current deficit in perspective makes it clear that, while its fiscal situation has worsened in recent years under Premier Wall, Saskatchewan certainly isn’t in or anywhere near a fiscal or deficit crisis,” said Sanger. “In fact, Saskatchewan could achieve a balanced budget in a few years without taking any drastic actions, which could further harm the economy.”

Premier Wall has focused on cutting public sector wages claiming wages make up 60 per cent of all government spending, though a more accurate number is 40 per cent for the broader public sector, or 20 per cent for direct government employees. Premier Brad Wall is threatening many drastic austerity measures to deal with the deficit, claiming the province is in a fiscal crisis. He is proposing to impose wage rollbacks of 3.5 per cent, force public sector workers to take days off without pay, layoff up to 4,900 public sector workers, cut services and sell off revenue-generating public assets.

“Balancing the budget through cuts to public services and on the backs of public sector workers isn’t just unfair, it would be bad for the economy,” Sanger added.

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Latest Sask Party announcement continues to punish workers for government mistakes, says CUPE

REGINA: The latest government announcement about wage roll backs for public sector workers will further weaken the economy and punish the working people of this province for a mess the Sask Party created, says CUPE Saskatchewan.

“We are facing a budget deficit today because of this government’s reckless decisions. They have sold off or given away sources of revenue, buried us in expensive P3 and Lean contracts, and now the only solution they have for a situation they created is to punish frontline workers,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan.

The letter sent to the unions says that the government expects a 3.5 per cent roll back in boards and agencies, school divisions, health regions, the post-secondary education sector, and government ministries. The government has suggested roll backs could come in the form of unpaid holidays or a direct wage roll back.

“A 3.5 per cent wage decrease is a significant loss of wages for many CUPE members who are already struggling to make ends meet,” added Graham. “We are not talking about high level bureaucrats: many of our members are precarious, part time, casual, or only work on a seasonal basis. This roll back will have dire consequences for families across Saskatchewan.

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