Pharmacare would save thousands for Alberta families: CUPE

At a time of record inflation, it’s ‘beyond absurd’ that Alberta would opt out of a national pharmacare program that would save families thousands of dollars in prescription fees. CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill called on Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to reverse her position and offer financial relief to the province.

“It’s absurd to me that someone in Ontario or Quebec would be able to access a prescription plan, but Albertans would have to pay out of pocket for private insurance, if they can get it at all,” said Gill. “A national plan would save everyone money, and it would save lives.”

According to Angus Reid, 21% of Albertans experience cost related barriers in getting the medications they need. That doesn’t factor in others who manage the expense of a private plan but would save money with a national system.

Gill said opting out would hurt efforts to recruit and retain workers, especially in the health care sector, as workers would opt for provinces where they and the people they care for are part of a better healthcare plan.

“Health care providers care about things like drug plans,” said Gill. “We already have a shortage of health care workers; we don’t need to add to the problem.”

CUPE responds to Lynx Air shutdown

OTTAWA, ON – CUPE National President Mark Hancock made the following statement today in response to the news Lynx Air will be shutting down operations on Monday.

“We are devastated for our members at Lynx and all the employees who lost their jobs today.  While this is a hard day for the employees of Lynx, they are better off for belonging to Canada’s largest union. CUPE will represent them and defend their rights in these difficult times. We will fight to ensure the employees get everything they are legally entitled to.”

CUPE represents 240 flight attendants at the airline.

Calgary school support staff negotiate a 7.75% wage increase

Custodial and other support staff at the Calgary Board of Education have negotiated a 7.75% wage increase over the course of this school year. The 800 workers, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 40 (CUPE 40) ratified the deal on Saturday.

CUPE 40 President Clay Gordon says the deal is better than the provincial government’s initial wage offer of 2.75%. Workers will get a 5% wage increase retroactive to the beginning of the school year, and a further 2.75% upon ratification.

The average support staff wage in Alberta is just $34,300 per year.

“After eight years without a wage increase, it’s still not enough,” said Gordon. “But it’s what we could get, and we will be back to the negotiating table when this deal expires in August. So we will be asking for more to make up for lost time.”

Gordon said his members deserve credit for making ‘a lot of noise’ about how unhappy they were with their low wages. “We had purple shirt days, rallies, demonstrations, letters and other ways to make the government understand we need to keep up with inflation, not fall further behind.”

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill says this is the third group of CUPE workers to negotiate wage increases that are better than the provincial offer. Gill says there are 28 other school districts still in negotiations with CUPE – and that he expects others to follow the trends set by CUPE 40 in Calgary.

“The only way the UCP can avoid school strikes is to recognize that workers can’t go eight years without wage increases. Inflation is high and they need to value the work of taking care of students.”


Statement from CUPE AB President Rory Gill

Yesterday the Alberta government chose to make some of the most vulnerable people in our society even less safe.

Trans youth are five times more likely than others to self-harm or be harmed by others. Instead of offering support, which can sometimes save lives, our Premier has told them that if they suffer abuse they can file a complaint — after the fact.

Trans people are people. They are friends, neighbours, and co-workers. They deserve love, support, and above all – safety. Shame on Danielle Smith for taking that away.

CUPE members who work with students every day will continue to fight for the dignity, protection and safety of trans youth. Even as the government pushes in the opposite direction.


Over 400 Parkland school employees join CUPE

Over 400 educational assistants, clerical staff, therapists and technicians employed by the Parkland School Division have voted overwhelmingly to join the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). In an Alberta Labour Relations Board vote counted today, employees voted 97.8% to leave their independent association and join Canada’s largest union. There was an 80% turnout.

Parkland School Division includes 23 schools west of Edmonton in Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and surrounding areas.

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill welcomed the new members, saying they chose CUPE for the benefits of being part of a larger organization.

“School board workers have a lot of challenges ahead,” said Gill. “Most have not had a wage increase in eight years. The average wage for an Educational Assistant is just $26,400. Employees at Parkland believe we are all stronger together, and their votes reflect that.”

“K-12 support staff are greatly undervalued in Alberta. These are the people who educate our kids – they deserve financial security and CUPE will work hard to make sure that happens.”

CUPE represents 11,500 K-12 employees in Alberta.

CUPE Alberta 2023 Awards

CUPE Alberta would like to recognize members at the upcoming CUPE AB Division Convention who have contributed in the following areas:

CUPE Alberta Equality Award

In addition to being a work of art, inukshuk means “to act in the capacity of a human.”

CUPE Locals in Alberta are invited to submit nominations for the CUPE Alberta Equality Award.  The Equality Award recognizes a CUPE member whose work on equality issues has made a difference in Alberta.

To nominate a member please complete and submit the application by January 15, 2024.

Click here for the application for the CUPE Alberta Equality Award



CUPE Alberta Health & Safety Award

CUPE Locals in Alberta are invited to submit nominations for the CUPE Alberta Health and Safety Award. The Health and Safety Award recognizes a CUPE member who has made a significant contribution in the area of health and safety in Alberta.

To nominate a member please complete and submit the application by
January 15, 2024.


Click here for the application form for the CUPE Alberta Health & Safety Award


Press Release

Workers at Buffalo Trail Schools smash UCP wage guidelines

EDMONTON – After eight years without wage increases, the 230-support staff at Buffalo Trail School Division have ratified a contract with wage increases well above the provincial government ‘mandate’ of 2.75% over three years.

Employees, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, negotiated ‘market adjustments’ of $3 per hour for almost all employees, as well as almost 6% wage increases in the second year of the contract. Many workers will receive wage increases of above 20% over the life of the contract, with some getting increases as high as 25%.

CUPE members voted 85% in favor of the contract.

Employee Joyce Baker gave credit to CUPE members who spoke out loudly when the school division tried to bargain a lesser deal.

“Our members wore purple shirts to protest the poverty level wages, they told us loudly and clearly they would not accept the UCP mandate,” said Baker. “Their work and determination spoke volumes and the school district had to listen.”

CUPE Alberta President Rory Gill said his union is facing similar battles at almost 30 other school districts around the province. He said school board workers are fed up with poverty level wages, but see this settlement as a sign of things to come.

“When workers fight back, we can and do win good settlements,” said Gill. “Even when fighting government’s that want to restrict wage increases to less than inflation – we can win. We just did.”

Gill said the average educational worker in Alberta makes $34,300 per year. The wages for educational assistants are even lower at $26,388 per year (about $20.58 per hour). Inflation has moved this wage to just below the Alberta poverty line of $26,550.

Per student funding in Alberta is lower than every other province in Canada. The number of students per educator is higher in Alberta than every other province.

:sz/COPE 491

Contact: Lou Arab
Communications Representative

CUPE reaches deal with City of Chestermere

CHESTERMERE – After seventeen months of bargaining, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the City of Chestermere have reached a settlement for a first contract covering 130 employees.

The negotiations have been drawn out and difficult, with CUPE charging the City with unfair labour practices for dragging negotiations backwards and promoting efforts to decertify the union.

CUPE local 37 President Matt Sjogren gave credit to a mediator for bringing the negotiations to a close.

“We needed an outsider to give the employer a shake, explain to them they were bound by law to try and reach a deal,” said Sjogren.  “Thankfully, we now have a deal we can take to our members.”

Sjogren said the union won’t release details of the contract until it’s been voted upon by members. That process is expected to be completed by the end of the month. The union will be recommending acceptance.

“What’s important now is that we turn down the drama and get back to serving the people of Chestermere.”