Canada’s largest union, the 550,000-member Canadian Union of Public Employees, has reached an agreement with the federal government to increase and strengthen aboriginal participation in the public sector workforce in Canada. The partnership agreement between CUPE National and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is based on the knowledge that First Nations, Métis and Inuit persons are underrepresented in the public sector labour force. The Aboriginal Workforce Participation Initiative will assist CUPE to work with aboriginal members, communities and organizations and with public sector employers across Canada to develop representative and meaningful employment opportunities for aboriginal workers.
“This is a commitment to find real solutions to real problems,” said Paul Moist, CUPE’s national president. “Aboriginal Peoples are not represented in the workforce, proportional to their numbers in our communities. That is why we are taking steps to create a representative labour force within municipalities, health care institutions, school boards, universities, social services and other public sector employers in Canada.”
CUPE Saskatchewan signed a similar agreement with the Saskatchewan government in 2000.
“The experience in Saskatchewan has been enormously successful,” said Moist. “Not only have we dramatically increased the numbers of aboriginal workers in the public sector and prepared our existing workforce through aboriginal awareness training, we have effectively changed the way we operate as a union, too.”
“This program means change at every level: in our many different workplaces and communities; in our communications and educational programs and in negotiating with employers,” added CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux. ”Many of our local unions and provincial divisions now have structured aboriginal Councils made up of aboriginal CUPE members to advise and provide leadership on important issues. Our structure is being changed and renewed.”
Paul Moist, National President, cell 613-558-2873
Claude Généreux, National Secretary-Treasurer, (porte-parole francophone), cell 514-884-5074
Sandra Sorensen, CUPE communications, 613-237-1590 ext. 334