Provincial review of ground EMS should recommend fully public system, says CUPE

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.

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STC closure leaves transportation for medical laboratory testing in uncertainty, says CUPE

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

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Protesters picket Sask Party AGM

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.

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New report highlights critical situation facing medical technologists and technicians in Saskatchewan

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.

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CUPE Local 600 to fight plans to dismantle bargaining unit

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.

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Estevan Aboriginal Day

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.

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Celebrate National Aboriginal Day: June 21, 2017

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.

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Aboriginal Council Conference: October 23 – 24, 2017

Advance Notice: The annual Aboriginal Council Conference will be held on October 23 and 24, 2017, at the Gold Eagle Lodge in North Battleford, SK.

Early registration deadline: September 22, 2017

Open to all CUPE members, and members of other unions, the CUPE Saskatchewan Aboriginal Council Conference seeks to build union activism with a focus on equality and rights for Aboriginal people in our workplaces and communities. Elections will be held for positions on the CUPE Saskatchewan Aboriginal Council Committee: Two (2) committee positions, each with a term length of two (2) years.

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Union surprised by sudden layoffs at the Saskatoon Public Library

SASKATOON: CUPE Local 2669 is reeling from the Saskatoon Public Library’s decision to lay off 20 staff members, just months after a hard fought campaign to restore provincial funding to the library.

“This was a completely unexpected and very upsetting decision by the Saskatoon Public Library,” said Lindsay Johnston, acting president of CUPE Local 2669 and a worker at the Saskatoon Public Library. “Though we felt like our jobs were safe when the funding was restored, we have become another casualty of the Sask Party’s budget.”

Although the provincial funding to public libraries was restored, that only accounted for three per cent of the Saskatoon Public Library’s total budget. The Saskatoon Public Library receives 97 per cent of its budget from the City of Saskatoon, which had its budget slashed as well. There is also considerable uncertainty about what funding will look like in 2018 as the provincial government only said it would restore funding for this year.

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CUPE welcomes dozens of new members to Local 4254 following organizing efforts in Prairie Spirit School Division

SASKATOON: More than 30 caretakers, educational assistants, bus drivers, and administrative staff in the Prairie Spirit School Division have successfully voted to unionize with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). This month a new certification order issued by the Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board brings 20 additional workers into CUPE Local 4254, which represents hundreds of education support workers in the Prairie Spirit School Division. These new members followed a dozen administrative staff who voted to join the union in the fall of 2016.

Standard concerns around job security, wages, and benefits have been heightened for workers in K-12 education since last fall when the provincial government commissioned a report on education restructuring. Nowhere were these concerns greater than in the Prairie Spirit School Division, which laid off dozens of support workers last year.

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