Darcy, along with CUPE Saskatchewan representatives Tom Graham, Steve Foley and Randy St. Denis, participated in signing two partnership agreements. The first agreement with the provincial government and the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations commits all three parties to work together to improve employment opportunities for Aboriginal people in the health care sector. A second agreement between CUPE and the Saskatchewan government is aimed at the broader public sector.
CUPE understands that creating a representative workforce requires fundamental changes because the status quo isnt working for Aboriginal people and other equity-seeking groups, she said.
Aboriginal people represent about 12 per cent of the population in Saskatchewan, but comprise only about 2 per cent of the workforce. Nearly half of the Aboriginal population in the province is under the age of 16, compared to only 20 per cent of the non-Aboriginal population.
Darcy acknowledged there are barriers to Aboriginal employment in collective agreements. We are prepared to work with the health boards and other employers in Saskatchewan to not only identify those barriers, but recommend ways to overcome them, she said.
Through these partnership agreements, we want to ensure that when these people are ready to enter the labour market, they not only find a job, but a home in CUPE.
Health Care Council president Steve Foley also expressed support for the partnership. Health districts not only need to hire more Aboriginal people to make our workforce representative, they need to hire more Aboriginal people to ease the strain caused by rising workloads a problem we see across our entire membership.
As any of the 12,000 CUPE members in the Saskatchewan health sector will tell you, there is no shortage of work in the health system, he stated.