Left to right: CUPE 4777 President Helen Sawatsky; CUPE 4980 President Pearl Blommaert ; CUPE 5111 President Brian Manegre; CUPE 5999 President (Acting) Wanda Edwards; & CUPE 3967 President Scott McDonald
Saskatchewan’s five CUPE health care locals will be merging into one CUPE provincial health union of over 13,600 members.
The final two merger votes were held August 14. Members of Local 4980 (Sunrise Health Region) voted with a 91 percent majority to merge with other CUPE health care locals in the province, while members of Local 3967 (Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region) backed the merger with 69 percent voting in favour.
Members of the three other CUPE health care locals representing health services providers also endorsed the merger earlier this summer.
REGINA: A new report commissioned by the Canadian Union of Public Employees has found that the proposed taxation changes in the 2017-2018 budget will disproportionally impact low income families and individuals.
The report, titled: Out of Balance: Saskatchewan’s 2017-18 Budget, found that the proposed taxation changes significantly erode tax fairness. One of the most substantial changes in the budget was the increase to the generally regressive Provincial Sales Tax (PST), which increased from 5% to 6% and was extended to tax items such as insurance premiums and goods such as snack foods, children’s clothing, and restaurant meals.
“The government says that the proposed tax changes will ‘ensure that Saskatchewan’s taxes remain fair to all residents.’ However, the tax changes proposed by the government disproportionately affect those who are least able to pay,” said Robin Shaban, the economist and public policy consultant who authored the report. “Meanwhile, Saskatchewan’s highest-income earners face very little change in the taxes they pay, relative to how much they earn. Some of Saskatchewan’s high-income earners may even enjoy a tax cut in the coming year.”
In fact, if the Saskatchewan government’s tax changes are fully implemented, the typical family that earns between $17,800 and $24,100 will see a tax increase of almost the same magnitude as the tax break that families with incomes over $186,700 will receive.
The report also shows that enhancements to the Low-Income Tax Credit (LITC) do not completely correct for the inequitable effects of the government’s tax changes.
This Labour Day, Ride for Respect! CUPE members and fellow union members from across Saskatchewan who ride motorcycle are invited to join in the Labour Day Ride for Respect on September 4, 2017. The Ride for Respect is dedicated to promote respect for workers and their rights. Participating motorcycle riders will travel from Regina to Saskatoon, arriving at the Labour Day celebration hosted by the Saskatoon and District Labour Council in Saskatoon. All proceeds are dedicated to support the Unemployed Workers Help Centre.
Pre-register by August 28, 2017 to guarantee a free t-shirt.
REGINA: The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is urging the provincial government to implement an integrated, fully public ground emergency medical response system.
The government is currently undertaking a system review of ground emergency medical services (EMS) in Saskatchewan. Submissions are due by July 31, 2017.
“CUPE strongly believes that provincial and publicly delivered EMS would allow for better coordination across the province, improve access and timeliness of EMS in rural Saskatchewan, and result in lower costs to residents,” said Sandra Seitz, president of the CUPE Saskatchewan Health Care Council. “This review is the perfect opportunity for this government to address the many issues in Saskatchewan’s EMS system.”
Evidence from the public provincial EMS system in British Columbia shows that this is the most efficient, patient-centred, and cost-effective model for EMS. Furthermore, centralized, public ground EMS can improve services for rural Saskatchewan.
REGINA: The closure of the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) has left rural medical labs scrambling to figure out how to transport medical samples for testing to urban centres.
“Many rural labs in the province shipped medical samples to larger centres for testing via STC. It provided reliable, same day delivery over every corner of the province,” said Sandra Seitz, president of the CUPE Health Care Council. “The government shut down STC without a plan in place for the many government services that depend on timely, affordable province-wide transportation and without assessing the additional cost to health regions.”
Many CUPE medical technologists and technicians have reported challenges with ensuring that medical specimens arrive in a timely manner. Due to specimen integrity, some specimens need to arrive at the testing facility within 24 hours, and other specimens need to arrive frozen. There are also times where the doctors need the results within hours so they can make critical decisions about their patients’ health care.
Members of SGEU and CUPE picketed outside Sask Party MLA Nadine Wilson’s Annual General Meeting for the Sask Rivers constituency to protest her support for the devastating 2017 provincial budget cuts and to highlight the impact that cuts are inflicting on northern communities.
The group is part of a broad coalition that is organizing protests at Sask Party events throughout the summer as a way of reminding government that its decision to cut services and programs has consequences.
“Prince Albert and the north in particular have been hit hard by the budget cuts,” said Bob Bymoen, president of SGEU. “With the shutdown of the STC, cuts to municipalities, and the already existing funding shortfalls for northern services, it’s clear that the Sask Party government doesn’t prioritize northern communities.”
Rally participants raised concerns about the 2016 cuts to Prince Albert Mobile Crisis, which forced the organization to shut down daytime services for the surrounding area. The lost funding was not restored in the 2017-18 budget. In addition, concerns were raised about the cuts to programs and reduction of support staff hours at Saskatchewan Rivers School Division.
REGINA: The CUPE Saskatchewan Health Care Council has released a report which indicates that increased workload and understaffing of medical technologists and technicians are putting them under extreme pressure and could compromise patient care. CUPE medical technologists and technicians provide essential services such as blood tests, X-rays, CT and MRI scans, and other diagnostic tests.
The report, titled: Under Pressure: Report on the Workload of CUPE Medical Technologists and Technicians in Saskatchewan, is based on an intensive online survey of CUPE members who work as medical technologists and technicians.
MOOSE JAW: CUPE Local 600 is fighting back against the Government of Saskatchewan’s plans to apply to the Labour Relations Board (LRB) to abolish its union and move approximately 500 members into the SGEU Public Service/Government Employees bargaining unit.
Representatives of the Public Service Commission informed CUPE Local 600 of the provincial government’s intentions at a meeting held June 19, 2017. The employer requested that the union make a joint application to the LRB to amend the certification order to allow this to happen. When the union rejected this request, the employer indicated it would make its own application to the LRB.
“CUPE Local 600 is seriously concerned that the main motivation behind this plan is to get out of promises of enhanced severance to Valley View Centre and Sask Hospital employees who opt to voluntarily resign or retire when job eliminations are announced in the future,” said Jacalyn Luterbach, president of CUPE Local 600.
Over the last few years, more than 80 people have been laid off from Valley View Centre, a care home for people with disabilities. In 2012, the provincial government announced it was going to close the facility. It is expected the closure will happen in 2018.
“CUPE is strongly urging the government to reconsider its plans to submit an application to the Labour Relations Board to change the union jurisdiction of our bargaining unit. This move will create unnecessary disruption and uncertainty for CUPE Local 600 members, and it creates an unsettling precedent of government interfering in the internal matters of unions,” added Luterbach.
CUPE Local 5999 hosted Estevan’s first ever National Aboriginal Day celebration on June 21, 2017. The event featured a free barbeque lunch, Aboriginal dances, and many community tables. The event was open to everyone in the community.
“Our union is proud to celebrate National Aboriginal Day and to host this event in Estevan,” said Wanda Edwards, Acting President of CUPE Local 5999. “Today and every day it is important to celebrate the vibrant and unique cultures of Indigenous peoples and to commit to the reconciliation process.”
Over 700 people participated in this event, including many school aged children.
National Aboriginal Day is time to celebrate the vibrant and unique cultures of Indigenous peoples, as First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities graciously share their ceremonies, customs and heritage with us all.
CUPE Local 5999, along with CUPE Saskatchewan and in partnership with the City of Estevan, Affinity Credit Union, and Pheasant Rump Nakota First Nation is hosting Estevan’s first Aboriginal Day celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Centennial Park. Featuring a free barbeque lunch, Aboriginal dances, Métis jiggers, and many community tables, the event is open to everyone in the community.
Upcoming events: From July 18 – 20, 2017, CUPE Saskatchewan will be holding its annual Back to Batoche Canoe Trip coinciding with Back to Batoche celebrations. The annual canoe trip offers an opportunity to learn about Métis culture, history and traditions while building fellowship. CUPE Locals and members are also encouraged to register for the annual CUPE Saskatchewan Annual Aboriginal Council Conference to be held October 23 – 24, 2017. The annual conference seeks to build union activism with a focus on equality and rights for Aboriginal people in our workplaces and communities.
In addition to a celebration of vibrant indigenous cultures, National Aboriginal Day is also a time for us to recommit ourselves to promoting truth and reconciliation.