CUPE Local 500 presented to all Standing Policy Committees at Winnipeg’s City Hall this week, with one message: Winnipeggers will not accept cuts to public services, programs, or staff.
“This is an historic moment for our City,” CUPE Local 500 President Gord Delbridge told City Councillors at the Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks on Wednesday.
“It is a moment where Councillors can choose to gut our city, leaving communities without libraries, arenas, or pools; families with fewer recreation programming, children with fewer opportunities to learn, and grassroots organizations unable to provide support for our most marginalized residents…”
“Or Councillors can reject the false choices being presented to them, and instead demand from our City Administrators a plan that will improve our services, provide for our citizens, protect our parks and green spaces, and move our city into the future.”
As part of the City of Winnipeg’s 4-year budget process, civic departments tabled proposals that would see sweeping cuts across the city.
Departments proposed reductions in sewer and water infrastructure maintenance, cuts to important Information Technology tools, contracting out of translation services, street lighting, and dozens of jobs being cut. Proposals also include the closure of public arenas, pools, recreation facilities, libraries, and recreation programming.
“Our libraries and staff promote education, life-long learning, literacy, community safety, health, imagination, and love,” said Phil Dembicki, President of the Community Services Unit of CUPE 500, and a librarian himself.
“But the proposed budget threatens to undermine generations of work in the community – building trust, building relationships, and building a community of learners and teachers.”
Madelaine Dwyer, President of CUPE 500 Water & Waste Unit, spoke at the City’s Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste, Riverbank Management and the Environment on Monday.
“CUPE is opposed to any cuts that would undermine the quality and delivery of important public services, including water and waste, but also including community recreation, libraries and our infrastructure.”
Julie McClurg, President of CUPE 500’s Civic Services Unit told the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage, and Downtown Development that cuts to staff in inspection and assessment departments will cause major relays in permitting for residents and businesses.
“In our department, we want people to succeed; we want businesses to grow, and we want residents to build the types of homes they dream of,” said McClurg.
“But these cuts will result in delays, in the depersonalization of our services, and will set our city back.”
Local 500 President Gord Delbridge was at the City’s Standing Policy Committee on Innovation and Economic Development on Tuesday.
“Whether it is frightening City staff into fearing for their livelihoods, scaring the community that they could lose their beloved arenas and recreation centres, or scaring community groups that they could lose their funding, this process has been a disaster,” Delbridge told the Committee.
“These suggestions create a great deal of anxiety across the entire public service, and without any form of consultation with the unions that represent staff in various departments, we can only draw the conclusion that these cuts are completely arbitrary.”
Delbridge also presented to the Executive Policy Committee on Thursday, calling on Councillors to reject cuts to 311 staff, the closure of the service desk at 510 Main, and to oppose contracting out of French language translators.
“We need to continue supporting our local, public 311 service, and any cuts being proposed would hurt Winnipeggers’ trust, and would create major delays in the provision of timely responses,” Delbridge told the Committee.
“Our in-house team of translators work diligently to ensure all Winnipeggers have access to services in English and French. Contracting out this work will result in higher costs, as private translating services are very expensive.”
CUPE Local 500 made sure that CUPE representatives spoke publicly against cuts at every committee hearing that took place throughout the week.
- Three delegations to the Standing Policy Committee on Water and Waste, Riverbank Management and the Environment on Monday;
- Two delegations to the Standing Policy Committee on Innovation and Economic Development on Tuesday;
- Two delegations to the Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks and two delegations to the Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage, and Downtown Development on Wednesday;
- Two delegations to the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure and Public Works and four delegations to the Executive Policy Committee on Thursday.
Delegates included Bernie Wood, Regional Representative for the Canadian Labour Congress, Kevin Rebeck, President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour, and Melissa Dvorak, President-elect of the Winnipeg Labour Council.
“CUPE is opposed to any cut to our public services, programs, and staff,” Delbridge told Executive Policy Committee.
“You can be sure that CUPE 500 will be engaging with the community - in all wards - in the months to come to inform Winnipeggers what’s at stake”.