SASKATOON – Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), joined by members of other public sector unions and concerned residents, will be gathering at the Saskatoon Cabinet Office to protest the multitude of deep cuts in the latest Sask Party provincial budget, and to demonstrate opposition to the proposed Bill 40, which would allow the provincial government to secretly sell off 49 percent of Crown Corporations.
REGINA: Municipalities are the latest group to face steep consequences from the provincial government’s austerity budget. Revenue sharing grants were cut by 5.1 per cent overall, but municipalities are also losing $38 million in grants in lieu of property taxes effective April 1, 2017.
The grants in lieu of property taxes are paid by Crown corporations SaskPower and SaskEnergy. SaskPower and SaskEnergy will continue to add a surcharge on residents’ utility bills even though the Crown corporations will no longer pay grants in lieu of taxes. Both cities of Saskatoon and Regina will lose $10.7 million. Mayor Charlie Clark said the amount is equal to what it costs to run all recreation centres in the city, and it would take a 5.7 per cent increase in the city’s property tax to replace this funding. Other cities are losing half of their provincial funding, such as the City of Yorkton which will see a 58 per cent cut in grants.
The latest Saskatchewan budget eliminated provincial funding for public libraries in Regina and Saskatoon and cut funding for regional libraries in half, or by $3.5 million.
Thousands of Saskatchewan residents have joined the campaign to support our libraries. Over 3,000 people joined a Facebook page in just two days, and hundreds have been writing letters and contacting their MLAs.
The next opportunity for action in on April 7 at noon where Support Saskatchewan Libraries is organizing a province-wide read in at MLA offices. Learn more here:
MOOSE JAW: The Sask Party’s bloody budget has more casualties as Palliser Regional Library, which lost 58 per cent of its budget with no notice from the government, had to lay off six workers at the regional library headquarters.
“I am shocked and appalled that the Sask Party government is gutting our wonderful regional library system,” said Stacey Landin, president of CUPE Local 9, which represents the workers at Palliser Regional Library. “Libraries are integral to our society, and these cuts will have real life implications for the hundreds of thousands of people who use the services every year.”
The provincial budget cut a paltry $3.5 million from regional libraries, but the amount equates to over 50 per cent of funding for all regional libraries. The impact of the cuts will be felt in communities around the province.
REGINA: Saskatchewan’s three health care provider unions, CUPE, SEIU-West and SGEU, have been working collaboratively to present a proposal to government that would mitigate the impacts on patient, client and resident care while government transitions to one provincial health authority. This proposal calls for a formal bargaining council structure to help stabilize labour relations and negotiate with the new authority.
The 2017-2018 Saskatchewan budget, released on March 22, cut operating funding to school divisions by 2.6 per cent on a school year basis. Twenty-seven out of 28 school divisions are facing cuts between 2.6 and 8 per cent. The total funding reduction for the K-12 sector is $54.2 million, which assumes a 3.5 per cent roll back of wages across the board. Wages are still subject to collective agreements, and any changes must be negotiated at the bargaining table.
“Budget cuts have real consequences for children. Our K-12 education system has already faced years of inadequate funding. Programs have been cut, schools are falling into disrepair, and some divisions have already had to lay off staff. And instead of properly investing in our children and their education, the provincial government has chosen to cut funding,” said Jackie Christianson, chair of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “The largest cuts in the education budget are to frontline staff such as teachers and support workers! The ripple effect of this devastating budget will hurt many.”
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.
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.
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.
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)