State of public education in Alberta – webinar

Labour Activism During COVID-19: The Attack on Public Education in Alberta

Join us for a discussion on the state of public education in Alberta.

We will discuss a brief history of education in Alberta, government decisions, the new “Choice in Education” bill introduced by the government last week, and take questions. We have a panel of experienced, respected education voices.

Please share this event with anyone you think would be interested.

   When:  Wednesday June 4, 2020 @ 4:40 pm MT

 

 

 

Still no wage increase for front line workers

CUPE launches letter campaign to MLAs

CALGARY – Almost six weeks after Health Minister Tyler Shandro claimed his government would give a $2/hour raise to health care aides in seniors’ facilities, many workers are still waiting for the raise to kick in.

CUPE Alberta, which represents over 5,000 health care workers across the province, unveiled a website today to ask MLAs to recognize the hard work of health care employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The website, www.supportfrontlineheroes.ca  includes a tool to send messages to Alberta MLAs.

President Rory Gill says the union launched the campaign because “CUPE members are tired of the disregard the Kenney government has shown for health care workers.”

“Other provinces have increased wages by over $4/hour, have been quicker to implement single staff rules, proper PPE, and other actions to keep everyone safe,” said Gill. “Here, the Kenney government has gone to war with doctors, made fake promises to workers, and dragged their heels on important safety standards.”

“This website allows our members and the public to let the UCP know we’re watching what they do, we know they are messing up, and we know they have broken all their promises.”

To send a message to your MLA in support of our front line workers, please click on picture below or go to www.supportfrontlineheroes.ca to sign:

Long term care workers still waiting for promised raise

BC gives $4/hour to front line workers – Albertans get nothing

CALGARY – Two days after the BC government announced a $4/hour raise for most health care workers, Alberta staff at long term care centers are still waiting for a smaller raise promised over a month ago.

CUPE Alberta, which represents 5,000 health care workers in the province, says a survey of their members at long term care facilities indicates most workers still have not received the $2/hour raise promised by Tyler Shandro on April 20th.

The $2/hour raise was only promised to health care aides in private continuing care facilities. In BC, almost every job classification in health care is eligible for the new $4/hour boost.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says Revera sites, which include McKenzie Towne Centre (location of the worst COVID-19 outbreak in Calgary) has not yet raised wages.  Different agencies have been given different information on how the raise is to be applied.

“When is Tyler Shandro going to sort out this mess,” asked Gill. “BC is paying twice as much to five times as many people, and they seem able to get the money moving.”

“The Kenney government doesn’t care about health care workers. If they did, they would keep their promises, and recognize the workload, the effort, and the stress these workers are putting themselves through.”

 

Long Term Care Report

CUPE members working in long term care (LTC) have felt the burden of COVID-19 as hard or harder than most.  Some are going to work every day in dangerous situations, made more stressful by residents who can’t see family and friends. Some have to stay at home due to childcare or health restraints.  Nowhere have as many of our members gotten sick than in this sector of our union.

We’ve worked hard to speak out on behalf of our members in long term care and fight for better, safer working conditions.  Here are a few of the actions we’ve been taking since COVID-19 arrived in Alberta.

  • CUPE Alberta has put out numerous statements, press releases and social media posts demanding the government institute a single site policy for employees in long term care.
  • April 10, 2020: sent a detailed, five-page letter to Health Minister Shandro detailing how Alberta can implement a single site policy similar to the way BC had.
  • CUPE Alberta met by phone with the labour minister to highlight grave concerns in our LTC sector including the single site issue, personal protective equipment and low wages.
  • April 10, 2020: the minister of labour called the CUPE Alberta president to inform us that a ministerial order will be issued requiring a single site mandate for LTC. We assert that wages are still an issue and must be addressed.
  • April 16, 2020: CUPE agrees to participate with UNA, HSAA and AUPE in a mediated process with employers to improve the ministerial order and address the wage and staffing issues in long term care. CUPE pushed for the BC model of government take-over of LTC and a common wage grid. All unions agreed but employers balked. CUPE’s representative was Ella Henry, Legal Representative for Alberta.
  • April 18, 2020: health ministry refuses to participate in the process and will not work with unions. Announcement of a $2/hour subsidy for HCA’s comes with NO implementation framework AND excludes all other classifications. CUPE protested the health ministry’s incompetence and disregard for residents and staff.
  • April 18, 2020: CUPE Alberta organized a car cavalcade to show support for residents and staff at the McKenzie Towne Care Centre.
  • April 20 to 28, 2020: CUPE called out the government’s incompetent and chaotic response to the crisis in long term care. Jason Kenney claimed in the Alberta Legislature that calls for single site rules in long term care settings were just ‘what CUPE thinks’ and accused us of politicizing a tragedy.
  • April 28 to May 1, 2020: CUPE and the other unions approached the labour minister to make one last attempt to have a fair agreement on LTC, true single site rules and a common wage grid across the province. The unions were united and worked with the mediator to get this message across. No worker should have to work at more than one site, and everyone should be paid a fair wage. The unions also stated that if a common wage grid was not implemented then ALL classifications in long term care should be paid a premium of at least $4 an hour. This continues to be our position.
  • The government is, in CUPE’s opinion, deliberately delaying the implementation of wage increases because they are committed to the for-profit model and care only for the companies profiting from the misery of residents and staff.
  • CUPE will continue to fight on the legal front and with the public to achieve justice for LTC.
  • CUPE National has begun a campaign to bring LTC into the public health care system and be recognized in the Canada Health Act. CUPE Alberta will support this campaign and fight to make LTC public funded, administered and delivered in Alberta.

CUPE Alberta will continue to fight for justice in long term care and advocate for our brave and selfless members in the sector. If members ever need any information on the work CUPE AB Division is doing they can contact me anytime at cupeabpresident@gmail.com, and I will be happy to answer and address any questions or concerns.

Thank you to all our members in long term care; you represent the very best of CUPE!

 

Where’s the money, minister?

CUPE calls on Shandro to deliver promised wages to staff at seniors’ homes

CALGARY – Six weeks after promising a $2/hour raise for health care aides, those workers are wondering if they will ever see the wages promised by Health Minister Tyler Shandro.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says BC, Ontario and Quebec responded to COVID-19 by delivering wage increases of $4/hour or more to staff, but notes Alberta can’t get it together to give smaller amounts to fewer workers.

“This minister is incompetent,” says Gill. “Even with Ottawa providing funding for wage increases, they can’t figure out how to deliver the money.”

Gill says higher wages are needed to recruit more workers to support Alberta seniors. Earlier this week, health officials promised workers would see an increase on paycheques today. Gill says that’s not happening.

“The government is either lying or misinformed about wage top-ups. They will not be delivered today as promised.”

“It took BC two weeks to organize a provincial wage grid to deal with COVID-19. Two months on, Tyler Shandro is still sputtering,” says Gill. “He truly is the worst health minister in Alberta history.”

 

Calgary closed because Kenney won’t listen to workers

CALGARY — A union representing 5,000 health care workers says the Kenney government has failed to address problems in long term care and meat packing. According to the Canadian Union of Public Employees, this failure is the reason Calgary cannot reopen with the rest of Alberta.

“Calgary is still closed because the UCP would not talk to front line workers about safety issues,” said Rory Gill, President of CUPE Alberta. “The biggest COVID outbreaks are in meat packing and long term care, because they messed up both files.”

On April 3, Gill wrote to Health Minister Tyler Shandro with detailed suggestions about how to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in long term care.  Gill urged Shandro to put single site staffing rules in place.

“The province of BC put single site staffing rules in place in about two weeks,” said Gill. “Two months into a pandemic, we are still waiting on the Alberta government to figure it out.”

“The Kenney government doesn’t get why we are still seeing outbreaks in long term care centers,” said Gill. “We need more staff, and better safety procedures.”

Gill says the UCP still can’t figure out what it is doing with wages in the sector. On April 10, the minister stated there would be a $2/hour raise for one classification of employee. “Over one month past that announcement, and no one has received a dime. How do you recruit more workers if you don’t pay them enough?”

“In Ontario, the Ford government gave a $4/hour increase for all long term care workers, including housekeeping and dietary aides. “Ford did that weeks ago,” said Gill. “What’s taking Kenney so long?”

 

Help line is no help

Students deserve Educational Assistants, not hold times

EDMONTON – A help line launched today for parents and students is a sad and insulting replacement for the 8000 educational assistants who were helping kids adapt to learning in a quarantine.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill called Education Minister Adriana LaGrange ‘clueless’ if she thinks a help line is going to replace trained staff she sacked on May 1st.

“An educational assistant has a handful of students. They work with individual teachers on the lesson plans and implements them according to the individual needs of the student” said Gill. “Replacing that person with a help line, where someone new answers the phone each time, someone who doesn’t know the student, the lesson, the teacher or the plan, is a joke”.

“Adriana LaGrange and Jason Kenney took resources away from Alberta’s most vulnerable special needs students” said Gill. “They left them floundering and vulnerable. This help line is no help.”

“Alberta’s special needs students and their parents deserve real resources, not hold times.”

Day of Mourning

 

 

Alberta meatpacking plant COVID-19 outbreaks highlight the need for better worker safety. On this April 28, Day of Mourning, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, as we remember those who died, were injured, or made ill, from their work and commit to protecting workers and preventing further workplace tragedies we are reminded of how far we still need to go to protect our most vulnerable workers.

Read more: https://www.afl.org/day_of_mourning_2020_ucp_government_failing_to_put_worker_safety_first

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenney government axes Northern Living Allowance

Letter to Keyano College staff confirms government isn’t coughing up

WOOD BUFFALO – Keyano College is proceeding with cuts to the Northern Living Allowance to employees after failing to receive confirmation that the Alberta government will fund it beyond June 2020.

A letter from the college to employees confirms that the monthly allowance of $1,040 per person will be taken off the pay packages of employees in July.  Keyano employees are the second group after childcare workers to lose the monthly benefit since the Kenney government was elected.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said he was worried other Fort McMurray residents would soon lose the benefit.

“First it was childcare workers, then Keyano employees, I’m worried municipal workers, healthcare workers, firefighters and others will lose it next,” said Gill.

“Jason Kenney promised to support oil and gas communities,” said Gill. “By defunding the allowance, after everything Fort McMurray has been through, is a slap in the face to a city that is still struggling.”

Started during boom times, the allowance assisted Wood Buffalo residents with the high cost of living. Gill said that the allowance now serves a different purpose.

“With the fire, the economic downturn, the crash in oil prices, and the COVID-19 crisis, Fort McMurray residents need help more than ever,” said Gill.

“The living allowance is a lifeline. Don’t cut it.

 


Pension update

There is a lot of concern among CUPE members who belong to the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) regarding news stories about losses in Alberta public sector pension plans.

CUPE Alberta will have more to say in the coming days about this story, but for now here is the official response from the LAPP itself.