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Federal support needed for Canadian cities and towns

Alleviating the desperate need of Canada’s cities and towns for renewing roads, bridges, community centres and public water systems must be a priority in the upcoming federal budget, says Paul Moist. Costly public-private partnership schemes being showcased this week at a special summit in Regina are no solution for Canada’s $123 billion infrastructure deficit, he says.

Focusing on public investments is vital to Canada’s continuing economic recovery. Funding public infrastructure is an important way to create jobs and to support communities still feeling the adverse effects of the global recession. For every $1 billion spent on public projects, 11,000 jobs are created. That’s twice as many created by $1 billion in corporate tax cuts.”

Tom Graham, president of CUPE Saskatchewan, says Canada’s mayors who attended the January 26-28 National Infrastructure Summit must approach discussions on public-private partnerships (P3s) with caution. Graham, attended at the summit on behalf of CUPE.

CUPE supports the Federation of Canadian Municipalities call for a long-term national infrastructure renewal plan. The current Building Canada Plan expires in 2014. “A long-term renewal plan for municipal funding will let Canadian cities and towns more confidently prepare for growth and prosperity,” says Moist. “If municipal governments are better able to plan for the future, they can avoid the trappings of costly privatization schemes.”

Unions rally in defence of public services

Paul Moist highlighted the need for global solidarity in protecting public services while attending the Council of Global Unions last week in Washington, D.C. Representing the PSI, Moist made a presentation on the Quality Public Services Action-Now Campaign. Set to launch on June 26 – World Public Service Day – it will bring together public and private sector unions in an international effort to ensure quality public services are affordable and accessible to all.

The campaign will centre on a public services charter, which affirms the vital importance of public services around the world and Global Unions’ commitment to work with the key actors – governments and international agencies, civil society, and business and enterprise – to pursue a new vision of quality public services. A key campaign element is developing union-led coalitions in cities and towns to fight against growing attacks on public services. More information on the Charter and action plan can be found on the campaign website at www.qpsactionnow.org.

Private long-term care: more profit, less care

Important new data is now available on the relationship between private for-profit ownership and quality of care in residential long-term care facilities. Researchers Margaret McGregor and Lisa Ronald recently published a report entitled Residential Long-Term Care for Canadian Seniors: Nonprofit, For-profit or Does It Matter?

We have reviewed Canadian and U.S. research evidence on the link between ownership and care quality and concluded that contracting out care to private, for-profit facilities is likely to result in inferior care compared to the care delivered in public and non-profit facilities,” McGregor and Ronald wrote in an article published recently in a major newspaper.

Their work provides even more evidence of the importance of public funding, administration and delivery of health care and of the need for standards in long-term care including minimum staffing levels. Read the full study at: http://www.irpp.org/summary.php?id=359.

CUPE member at Braemore Home writes letter of concern about locked up resident - facility apologizes

A CUPE Local 3513 member is to be commended for their courage to put their concerns in writing, on September 14, outlining their concern about a resident who had been locked in a room at Braemore Home in Sydney, N.S. Media reports state that the resident had been locked in the room from September 12 to 26.

CUPE National Representative Kathy MacLeod says, “I want the public to know that our staff, the Residential Care Workers (RCWs) at this home, were in no way, shape or form involved in the decision to lock this resident in a room by himself. In fact, it was one of our members who brought the situation to light. We currently have 83 outstanding grievances with this employer.”

It is no coincidence, by the way, that this group of employees has taken a very strong strike vote and will be in a strike position on January 31. The frustration levels are very high and could even result in job action.”

An article written by Michael Tutton of the Canadian Press, “Facility apologizes after report of autistic man’s 15-day confinement”, states that the union [CUPE] says the incident was reported on September 14 by a [CUPE] worker at the home to the Department of Community Services, which determined the case constituted institutional abuse under the Protection for Persons in Care Act.

Read the CUPE release and the article in Maclean’s Magazine at: http://cupe.ca/long-term-care/braemore-home-wrote-letter-concern.

Nova Scotia school boards should stop public meetings until all facts are out – CUPE

The president of CUPE Nova Scotia Danny Cavanagh says all boards should be including their annual financial statements in their presentations to the public. “The boards have not painted a very clear picture of their finances to date. We have now learned, for instance, that they have completely neglected to mention the funding they receive from municipalities in their calculations. This amounts to over $185 million dollars,” says Cavanagh. “Instead some boards have decided to paint a very bleak picture to parents, students, and their staff by leaving out some very important facts.

It is totally unfair for these school boards to be making public presentations on their financial situation with incomplete information. On behalf of our 4,500 school board members across the province, we call on the Education Minister to urge these boards to put an end to these public presentations until they get their facts straight.”

St. John’s Metrobus Transit workers fight concessions to their health benefits

On January 22, CUPE activists and staff joined the picket line of striking transit workers in St. John’s, Newfoundland, who have been on strike since November 4. The employees of Metrobus Transit are fighting concessions to their health benefits. During the rally, CUPE NL president Wayne Lucas presented a cheque to the members of the Amalgamated Transit Union and spoke to local media about the need to get the dispute settled. Lucas says other CUPE locals across the province have been generous in their support of the strikers.

Lucas says, “Instead of being able to celebrate a tentative settlement with the City of St. John’s, the members of Local 1289 are faced with inaccurate statements about their settlement. It is totally disingenuous for Mayor O’Keefe to say that the deal just signed with city inside workers hinged on a 50/50 cost-share on health benefits. This issue was not even on the table.”

Region of Peel Ontario Works unit reaches tentative agreement

People working for Ontario Works and Human Services Division in the Region of Peel, represented by CUPE Local 966, have reached a tentative settlement with the administration, averting a possible strike or lockout.

We are very happy that we have been able to avoid disruption in services to the most vulnerable people that we serve,” said Mary-Jo Falle, CUPE 966 president. “In addition, the CUPE 966 Ontario Works unit stands in solidarity with our other unit representing the public nurses, who are still in conciliation to have Peel’s administration make them a better offer.”


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