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Michel Chartrand, 1916-2010

The union movement in Québec and across Canada is in mourning for an exceptional figure: Michel Chartrand.  Here is the reaction of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), with which CUPE Québec is affiliated.

Chartrand the militant and Chartrand the man were one.  He had a singleness of purpose that left no one indifferent,” said FTQ President Michel Arsenault.

A man who dedicated his entire life to defending the workers, the poor, the unemployed and the victims of workplace accidents can only inspire us all in our determination to build a society based on social justice and the equitable distribution of wealth,” added the union leader.

Public events highlight problems with Canada-EU trade deal

Next week, Canada and the European Union will begin a third round of negotiations over the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement (CETA).

This would be the largest, most intrusive free trade deal that Canada has ever entered into, and negotiations are progressing quickly, with little public scrutiny.  If ratified, the agreement could seriously impact public services, labour rights, environmental policy, culture, economic development, food policy, water services, and more.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, CUPE National President Paul Moist has asked the government to immediately halt negotiations until broader consultation with all Canadian stakeholders has occurred.

CUPE has also asked that the draft texts of the proposed agreement be made public, so that all Canadians know what services, institutions, and rights our government is prepared to put at risk.

To help shed light on the risks involved under CETA, the Trade Justice Network has invited three people from the trade justice movement in Europe to speak at public events in Ottawa, Montréal, and Toronto from April 19 to 21.

Learn more about CETA and the Trade Justice Network’s public forums at:


CUPE to Flaherty: expand CPP, toughen laws to protect pensions

CUPE National President Paul Moist participated in a roundtable discussion on pensions last week with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.  Moist used the opportunity to call for reforms to Canada’s pension system so that more Canadians can retire with an adequate pension.

More than 11 million Canadian workers have no workplace pension plan.  Over 200,000 seniors continue to struggle in poverty, and some 1.6 million have such low incomes that they are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).  And in the absence of tougher laws to protect workplace pensions, people are learning that their pensions are not as secure as they once thought,” said Moist.

Moist says Canada’s pension system can be fixed with an expansion of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), an increase to the guaranteed income supplement (GIS), and stricter laws to protect workplace pensions from bankruptcy, high-risk investments and employer underfunding.

To learn more about CUPE’s plan for fixing Canada’s pension crisis, visit:


Seniors in danger in long-term care facilities

Are our seniors safe in private and public residences and long-term care facilities?”

This was the burning question addressed by health care workers and researchers at the conference of the Conseil provincial des affaires sociales (CPAS).  Unfortunately, the answer was clear: under-funding, staffing shortages and turnover, and mismanagement are continuing to increase the vulnerability of the elderly in residences and centres.

All speakers acknowledged the vital role of health care workers in reporting abuses and problems.  They also supported some of the recommendations in CUPE’s research report, “Residential long-term care in Canada: our vision for better seniors’ care”.

To address the crisis in long-term care, CUPE is calling on governments to:

• Increase staffing, with legislated quality of care standards
• Support education and professional development
• Improve accountability and enforcement
• Expand home and community care services

The conference was part of CUPE’s cross-Canada tour on issues affecting the quality of residential services for seniors.

Moist addresses federal task force on financial literacy

CUPE National President Paul Moist presented CUPE’s solutions for improving financial security for working Canadians to the Task Force on Financial Literacy.

The Task Force will make recommendations to the Minister of Finance on a national strategy to improve financial literacy in Canada in December of 2010.

You can also make sure that your voice is heard.  The task force is accepting comments online until May 13.

Learn more about CUPE’s recommendations to the task force, and find out how you can contact the task force at:


SK government trashes Aboriginal partnership agreements

The Saskatchewan government’s termination of the Aboriginal Employment Development Program means the end of signed in-force partnership agreements with unions, employers, and Aboriginal groups in the province.  CUPE, along with other signatory unions, has called the move regressive and short-sighted.

These partnership agreements have proven very successful in getting more Aboriginal people employed.  We cannot understand why the government would get rid of initiatives like this which help to relieve the largest socio-economic disparity in this country” said CUPE National President Paul Moist.

While the program had cost $780,000 per year, the Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy calculates the cost of Aboriginal unemployment to be $2 billion annually.

Layoffs, privatization for ambulance service

Paramedics say proposed layoffs and privatization are a major blow to the quality of ambulance service in B.C.

Ambulance Paramedics of BC, CUPE 873 President John Strohmaier said privatization of non-emergency ambulances will only hurt the service.  “We need only look to the private transfer fleets operating in Ontario and the U.S. to see the disastrous impacts that for-profit ambulances can have on patients,” said Strohmaier.  “This is an ideological decision by the BC Liberals that once again ignores the critical condition of ambulance services for the public.”

The government announced plans this week to slash 45,000 hours from the provincial non-emergency ambulance fleet by “outsourcing” to private operators.  The government admits this will cause the loss of “up to 36 full-time positions.”  The fleet handles work such as transferring patients from one hospital to another and accounts for 20-30 per cent of paramedics’ work.

The Ambulance Paramedics of BC have launched a grievance against the government’s slide to more contracting out.

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