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.
The International Day for the Elimination of Racism is a time to renew our resolve and our responsibility as fellow union members to confront racism and discrimination in all of its forms, wherever and whenever we encounter it. We all must ensure our workplaces, public services, and all levels of our union are safe, reflective of diversity, and meaningfully inclusive. Voices for Action Against Racism is the theme of this year’s global observance, encouraging people everywhere to mobilize against racial discrimination and injustice, and to ensure a safe and supportive environment for people to speak up.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how critical the care work and leadership provided on the frontlines of our public services by women have been for the safety and health of our communities. The pandemic has also created more inequality for women providing unpaid care and who face the majority of unpaid care responsibilities to support families and the broader community.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow,” highlights the need for more action to tackle systemic gender inequality to build a better, more just future. We must not let governments and employers go back to the normal that continues to perpetuate gender inequality and marginalization, and which chronically under-values women. Instead, we must organize and take action for gender equality as a union dedicated to fighting at the bargaining table and through political action to improve the jobs, rights and the well-being of women and gender diverse people.
February is Indigenous Storytelling Month in Saskatchewan. During the winter months, the tradition of First Nations and Métis storytelling is fundamental to pass on knowledge from generation to generation, sharing culture, history, teachings, spirituality, and language.
February is Black History Month. This year’s 2022 theme, February and Forever: Celebrating Black History today and every day, is a call to recognize both the contributions and struggles of Black Canadians and communities. As union members, Black History Month is a time to renew our resolve to take meaningful action in our workplaces and communities to end systemic racism and address inequality. From the disproportionate and intensified inequalities experienced by racialized workers and communities during the ongoing pandemic, to ongoing activism denouncing the crisis of police brutality and over-policing, more remains to be done to end injustice, to challenge systemic racism, and to build equality.
CUPE Saskatchewan holds virtual Political Action Summit.
Political commentator and Canadian icon Chantal Hébert kicked off CUPE Saskatchewan’s Political Action Summit with a riveting keynote speech on the shifting landscape of Canadian politics.
Over 100 participants joined in to listen to Hébert speak on a range of issues, including the trucker convoy and growth of far-right extremism in Saskatchewan and Canada.
Saskatchewan education support workers are extremely concerned that government direction to end contact tracing in schools increases COVID risks for students and staff.
“Moe has stripped away the paltry protections that were in place in our schools. It is completely unacceptable and shows this government’s total lack of regard for students and staff,” said Rob Westfield, chair of CUPE Saskatchewan’s Education Workers Steering Committee and a facility operator with Saskatoon Public Schools. “Many of our members work in close physical proximity with students – providing hands on support and guidance for students with complex needs. The mental toll of not knowing if you have been exposed to COVID is immeasurable. We all have loved ones who are at higher risk – whether it is small children who are not yet vaccinated, seniors or immunocompromised. We are drowning, and the government is leaving us adrift.”
According to the latest announcement by the Government of Saskatchewan, parents and caregivers are no longer required to notify schools about positive test results for the purposes of close contact notification.
“Given the current record-high infection rates during this Omicron variant wave of COVID-19 and high numbers of people in hospital, it is reckless for the Sask. Party government to relax safety measures in schools,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. Our members in the education, health care and childcare sectors are exhausted and overwhelmed trying to protect our community and deliver public services,” said Henley. “The Sask. Party government continues its recklessness by relaxing measures at a time when frontline workers are calling for stronger measures to protect vital services.”
On Thursday, January 20, 2022, CUPE Saskatchewan joined with other public sector unions representing more than 113,000 Saskatchewan workers to collectively call on the Government of Saskatchewan and Premier Scott Moe to immediately mandate the recommendations of the province’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.
“Everyday, frontline workers are putting themselves at risk for all of us and this government is failing to protect them. The stress and uncertainty are impacting hundreds of workers in our schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, childcare centres, and group homes and addiction treatment centers,” said CUPE Saskatchewan President Judy Henley. “My message to Premier Moe is respect frontline workers and do better.”
Education support workers are asking the provincial government to take immediate steps to stop the spread of the newest wave of COVID-19, including pausing in-class learning.
“Jurisdictions across Canada have paused in class learning as the next wave of the pandemic hits. Here in Saskatchewan universities have delayed the start of the winter term, but students and staff in the K-12 education sector are back in full force with no additional safety measures,” said Rob Westfield, an education support worker and chairperson of the CUPE Saskatchewan Education Workers’ Steering Committee. “We know there has been classroom transmission of COVID-19 – now you are putting children in crowded classrooms while an even more contagious variant of the virus sweeps across our province. It is unacceptable. We have already lost too many people to this government’s inaction.”
Before and since the pandemic first hit, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) in Saskatchewan have been on the frontline and behind the scenes caring for you in health care, long-term care and home care – and delivering the many public services we all rely on to keep our communities safe, healthy and strong. As we face yet another wave with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, we know many challenges are yet to come in keeping our communities safe and to prevent further loss of life. We also know just how vital our public services and the workers who deliver them are in the fight against the coronavirus.
Click to read the full year-end message from CUPE Saskatchewan.