As the COVID-19 pandemic surges and our front-line heroes are under ever-greater pressure, the provincial government has ended the Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program.
Now is the time for the Government of Saskatchewan to step up with more provincial funding and expand the wage top-up program for all front-line workers.
You can help: Add your voice by sending a message!
Visit this link to send a letter to your MLA and the Ministers of Finance and Social Services: www.sk.cupe.ca/wage-topup
The Saskatchewan Party government today presented an austerity budget that relies on federal funding to address the effects of COVID-19, while ignoring its own provincial responsibility to provide stable, long-term health care and education funding, according to the president of CUPE Saskatchewan.
“On many occasions, the province claims they are providing record funding, but in most cases, they also acknowledge that much of that funding is coming from the federal government,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan.
In a letter sent today to Finance Minister Donna Harpauer, CUPE, SEIU-West, and SGEU are asking that next week’s provincial budget include commitments to multi-year funding for community-based organizations.
The letter, titled “CBOs to Sask Party: Is this year our Lucky 13?” points out that thirteen years ago, Harpauer – then the Minister of Social Services – held a consultation with CBOs to identify challenges in the sector and hear ideas on how the government might address them.
At that time, CBOs, unions and workers told the Sask Party that single-year funding was one of their biggest challenges to providing quality services in the community, and proposed a move to a multi-year funding model.
Thirteen years later, CBOs are still waiting for an answer – and in the meantime, workers and the vulnerable people they serve are left struggling needlessly. As the letter notes, “Getting one year of funding at a time makes it impossible to provide stable, reliable services to clients. Organizations never know from one year to the next if they’ll be able to keep their doors open to provide the meaningful services that make our communities stronger.”
As COVID-19 variants continue to spread across Saskatchewan and with outbreaks in 82 schools, the union representing 7,000 education support workers is calling on the provincial government to stop misleading the people of Saskatchewan and immediately step up its efforts to make schools safe.
On March 22, 2021, Premier Moe announced that 100,000 rapid tests were being deployed to Saskatchewan schools and that testing could begin right away, even though the premier knew full well that the protocols and staffing required to administer these tests were not in place. In making this statement, the premier either deliberately misled the public, or had no detailed knowledge of his own safe school’s plan. This single action has increased the stress and fear that education staff have been feeling since the start of the pandemic.
Donna Smith presented with the CUPE Saskatchewan Activist Award at Convention 2021.
Donna Smith, member of CUPE Local 4828, was presented with the Activist Award during the virtual annual convention of CUPE Saskatchewan on March 11, 2021. The annual award recognizes CUPE members who display outstanding dedication in representing their fellow members and advancing greater economic fairness and social justice.
“Pride in diversity is both a motto and foundation of a life’s work to which this distinguished activist has committed decades of her life to progress, inspiring others through example,” said Judy Henley, President of CUPE Saskatchewan, in making the award presentation during convention.
2020 was a year like no other. From the very beginning, CUPE members have been on the frontlines of the pandemic in Saskatchewan, going above and beyond to provide vital public services and direct care to patients, long-term care residents, and the vulnerable. In many cases, CUPE members went to work every day putting their health and lives at risk.
Fear, worry, stress, burnout, grief, trauma – these are some of the many words and experiences we understandably hear from CUPE members on the frontlines delivering public services during this deadly and worrisome pandemic that has now reached its one-year anniversary. With the additional stresses and risks posed by COVID-19, it is important to identify and address psychosocial hazards in the workplace. At the recently held virtual annual convention of CUPE Saskatchewan on March 11, 2021, Troy Winters, CUPE’s National Health & Safety Senior Officer, and Chalaine Senger with the Canadian Mental Health Association joined delegates by video conference to discuss the topic of mental health and resiliency during COVID.
March 22 is World Water Day – a day to highlight the vital importance of water for human life and ecological health and, as such, the need to protect water resources from pollution, privatization, and commercialization. Access to safe, reliable water and wastewater services is a human right, and water utilities and resources that are publicly owned, operated, and managed are at the heart of healthy communities.
Many Indigenous communities in Canada remain under boil water advisories and without reliable access to safe drinking water. CUPE stands in solidarity demanding an end to water injustice. More urgent federal government action and sustainable long-term funding for operations and maintenance is needed to end the water crisis in Indigenous communities.
Saskatchewan’s current addictions crisis is the direct result of neglect by the provincial government, who must now act quickly to slow the record number of addiction related deaths, according to the president of CUPE Saskatchewan.
At the centre of the crisis is a lack of treatment centres in the province, which is creating longer and longer wait times. These wait times have only increased with the closure of Pine Lodge Treatment Centre last December, a facility that has been called one of the finest in-patient treatment centres in western Canada. Since a fire devastated Pine Lodge on Christmas Eve, the province has taken no action whatsoever to either rebuild the old facility or secure a new location. The Resort Village of Fort San recently voted against allowing Pine Lodge to move into that community.
“We have qualified addictions treatment workers with years of experience who are left sitting on their hands because patients can’t get to treatment,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “People are dying in record numbers, and yet the province is not even talking about this, let alone taking the action that is needed.”
On the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we resolve to renew our efforts as a Union to stand up against racism in our communities and in our workplaces. It’s a day to recognize the human suffering caused by the injustice and stigma of racism, and it’s a day to renew our efforts to make our workplaces and all levels of our union reflective of diversity.
Unions bring workers together in solidarity to fight for fairness– working to break down economic and social inequalities, advocating for improved access to public services, taking action to defend workers’ rights and human rights, and standing together to confront hate, fear, and discrimination in all its forms. This work continues in the knowledge that all of us have a role to play in ending racism and championing human rights, understanding that together in solidarity we can make lasting structural change in our society that ends systemic racism.
Are you interested in serving on a Standing Committee of CUPE Saskatchewan? Further your union involvement and activism – apply today!
Deadline for application is no later than noon on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.