Saskatchewan’s largest union is hoping that the upcoming provincial budget will include funding for public services that have been the hardest hit by COVID-19.
“The City of Saskatoon and City of Regina are facing revenue losses of $32 million and $21 million, respectively, due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “We are calling for this budget to provide emergency operational funding for municipalities so Saskatchewan residents can continue to rely on municipal services.”
The province’s spending plan, which was unveiled in March, contained inadequate funding increases for important public services including libraries (0.7%), childcare agencies (1.2%), the University of Saskatchewan (0.2%) and the University of Regina (1.2%). “Now more than ever, we need to invest in our public services. It is a proven method to help stimulate the economy,” said Henley.
In addition, CUPE is looking for targeted funding to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and to enforce compliance with strict cleaning guidelines.
“We are hoping the government is targeting funds to ensure all sectors have a healthy supply of PPE and adequate staffing levels to follow cleaning and distancing protocols,” added Henley. “This is especially important in our most underfunded and understaffed public services, such as education, childcare, health care, community-based organizations and libraries.”
CUPE will also be looking closely for the continuation of wage enhancements for low income front-line workers.
“It is astonishing that so many of the people who are providing vital public services during the pandemic, and every day beyond, are not making a living wage,” said Henley. “This government needs to continue the wage top-up for front line workers and take immediate action to move from our embarrassingly low minimum wage towards a living wage for all Saskatchewan people.”