National Aboriginal Day. A day to do better.


June 21st is National Aboriginal Day, a day to recognize the contribution and the struggles of our Aboriginal peoples.

Three years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada reported details of the shocking and deeply disturbing history of residential schools.

It would be challenging to find a more shameful chapter in Canadian history than the forced separation of Aboriginal children from their families and the physical and sexual abuse that accompanied it.

Ripped from their homes and communities, Aboriginal children were treated harshly, without love, malnourished, and forced to abandon their language, culture, and way of life.  The Commission used the term ‘Cultural Genocide’ to describe Canada’s Aboriginal policy for over a century. If anything, that term may be too mild.

Today, the challenges Aboriginal communities face continue.  The number of Aboriginal children in foster homes and in the criminal justice system are far out of proportion to their share of the population.  We have made tiny steps, the provincial government is funding $100 million to put clean drinking water into aboriginal communities, and the Premier apologized for the province’s role in the ‘Sixties Scoop’.

But much more work has to be done. CUPE Alberta will always work in partnership with First Nations to do our part to bring healing and reconciliation to all Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Airport layoffs hurt service, safety: CUPE

The unexpected elimination of seven CUPE positions from the Fort McMurray Airport Authority is a hard hit to the already dwindling service levels at the airport, says the union representing employees of the Airport Authority.

“These cuts follow the elimination of 50 custodian and security positions in 2015”, said Judy Collier, President of CUPE Local 1505.  “The Bargaining Unit has gone from approximately 73 CUPE members to only 12 in just 3 years. With the recent reduction in hours of work and these layoffs, the travellers can expect a further decline in service levels.

Although some management and administration positions were also eliminated, Collier feels additional reductions of the highly paid management positions would have been more beneficial, while leaving service levels intact.

“The cuts are exclusively to the maintenance team, eliminating more than half the workers who maintain the grounds and runways, which includes ensuring safety for incoming and outgoing flights,” said Collier.

“After very tough negotiations to renew the collective agreement, reduction of hours and now this, the mood was extremely somber yesterday.” “Between losing co-workers who are like family; and knowing we can’t do the job as well as we used to, it hurts everyone, not just the members given layoff notices.”

Collier said affected employees have been notified and have received letters detailing their options. CUPE will work with the laid off members to ensure their rights are protected and will continue to advocate against cuts to the public service.

What would Kenney scrap?

The President of CUPE Alberta is calling on UCP leader Jason Kenney to tell Albertans what programs and services he would cut to achieve a balanced budget.

CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts says you can’t talk about bringing the deficit down in isolation to the programs and people who depend upon public services.

“Which schools would he close? Which hospitals would he blow up? How many nurses, teachers and other public workers would he fire?” asked Roberts.

Roberts said the NDP plan to balance the budget by 2023 is the responsible approach, allowing for a gradual return to surplus in the provincial books.

“It’s a bit rich for Kenney to lecture the province on balanced budgets when his own party ran deficits even when oil was over $100/barrel,” said Roberts.  “It would be laughable if his current proposals were not so scary.”

UCP MLAs frequently talk about reducing spending to “BC levels” which are 20% lower than Alberta. Roberts says a 20% cut to spending would “devastate public services and the people who depend upon them.”

“So I say to Jason Kenney – put your plans in writing. Let us see what stays and what goes.”

“If you want to be Premier, you owe that to Albertans.”

Jason Kenney wants tax dollars to go to private schools – CUPE

Jason Kenney’s education proposals would put tax dollars into the hands of elite private schools instead of public schools that benefit everyone.  That was the message from CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts today.


On the weekend, delegates to the United Conservative Party voted in favour of motions to increase government funding to private schools.


“Let’s get real. These are schools with tuition well out of range of regular Alberta families,” said Roberts.  “These are not institutions that deserve tax dollars.”


Roberts said spending money on elite schools takes resources away from public schools that serve everyone, not just rich families. In other provinces, where the private school funding has been reduced, it has not shown an increase in students to the public system from the private schools because the rich still pay, they can afford the additional costs.   


“If you can afford tuition of $15,000 per year, you don’t need taxpayer help to keep the tuition from going up to $20,000 or more,” said Roberts. “That money belongs to public schools, to school lunch programs, and to computers, desks and well-trained staff so our children can learn.”


“Jason Kenney wants to make the rich even more privileged. And he wants us to pay for it.”

Kenney’s tax proposals a gift to the rich – CUPE

Jason Kenney’s proposal to bring back a flat tax is a gift to Albertans making high salaries, but it won’t put a dime into the pockets of regular Alberta families, said CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts today.

On the weekend, delegates to the United Conservative Party voted to return to a flat tax, meaning all Albertans would pay the same rate of tax, regardless of income.

“Jason Kenney wants to give away almost $700 million to people who earn over $300,000 per year,” said Roberts. “Meanwhile giving nothing to regular families except cutbacks to health, education, and other important services.”

“Albertans have been very clear that the richest Albertans need to pay more taxes to pay for the services we all need,” said Roberts. “Jason Kenney is on the side of the rich, we need politicians that look out for the rest of us.”

Conservatives can’t be trusted with health care


CUPE AB President Marle Roberts with Health Minister Sarah Hoffman at the site of Calgary General Hospital, blown up by the Conservative government in 1998. “We can’t let Jason Kenney destroy our health care system,” said Roberts.

Today, CUPE Alberta President Marle Roberts was joined by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman  at the former home of the demolished Calgary General Hospital, to call on Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party to come clean about what their deep cuts to health care will mean for families in Calgary, and across Alberta.

Calgary General Hospital was demolished by Alberta’s former conservative government in 1998 as part of a risky agenda to cut the health care services Albertans depended on. As the largest hospital in North America to ever be closed, the demolition made Calgary the only large city in Canada without a downtown emergency room, led to severe shortages of hospital bed space for over a decade, and resulted in millions of dollars being spent on private surgeries to meet the demands of a growing city. The destruction of the General, along with the closing of the Grace Hospital in 1996 and the Holy Cross Centre in 1997, left Calgary with 1,800 hospital beds, down from 3,000.

With UCP Leader Jason Kenney proposing 20 per cent cuts to health care to fund tax giveaways for those at the top, with UCP MLA Glenn van Dijken recently calling the badly-needed Calgary Cancer Centre a “fancy box,” the United Conservatives are slated to debate a range of policies related to drastically cutting and privatizing health care.  Given their history, Albertans should be worried about Kenney’s plans for health care.

“The demolition of this hospital was devastating to families, health care workers, and to all Calgarians. Watching the footage of the conservatives literally blowing up a hospital, I worry about what another conservative government would mean for families in Calgary. We can’t let Jason Kenney pay for his tax breaks for the rich with deep cuts to the services we depend on.” – Marle Roberts, President, CUPE Alberta

“The conservatives want to slash health care, fire nurses and bring back the old days of queue jumping for their wealthy donors. Albertans have seen what their cuts mean, and they rejected two-tier, American-style health care. It’s time for Jason Kenney to be honest about his reckless agenda.” – Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

The hospital closure was the result of nearly $100 million in cuts to health care funding during the 1990s by the former conservative government, along with firing and laying-off health care workers, and hospital and emergency room closures across the province.

It cost $8.5 million to demolish the Calgary General Hospital.

Forward, Not Back: How Alberta unions can make a difference in the next election


Greetings Sisters, Brothers and Friends,

The AFL mid-term forum is taking place May 4th and 5th in Calgary. It is titled; Forward, Not Back

How Alberta unions can make a difference in the next election.

For more information regarding the forum and to secure hotel accommodations go to:

As it states in the AFL midterm announcement:

“ The stakes couldn’t be higher for working people. Please join us at the midterm forum to learn about how you can be part of our pre-election campaign!

Together we can keep Alberta moving forward towards a progressive, worker-friendly future.”

CUPE Alberta is asking Locals to support the AFL mid-term forum by sending delegates. The forum will describe how we can support and  be a part of the AFL pre-election campaign.

Although we have had numerous discussions regarding UNIFOR and the impact it has had regarding some President’s of the Federation of Labour’s belonging to UNIFOR, it is important that we have as many delegates at this forum to show our support for the Alberta Federation of Labour.  We may not agree with the decisions made and process followed, but I know, we all agree with a strong labour movement.

I look forward to seeing CUPE members at this forum. CUPE Alberta will be holding a caucus and inviting the AFL Officers for a discussion on our support.    Lets pack the house !

In Solidarity,

Marle Roberts

President CUPE Alberta