BURNABY—The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is taking a wait-and-see approach with the new BC Liberal cabinet, offering praise for the establishment of three new ministries and expressing hope that Gordon Campbell’s second term will herald a more cooperative approach with working British Columbians.
“First, I would like to congratulate all the ministers—particularly those elevated to cabinet for the first time—for accepting this great responsibility to the people of British Columbia,” said O’Neill.
“The last four years have seen a lot of confrontation in this province, so our members look forward to a period of real cooperation and a better sense of the government’s willingness to work together with all stakeholders to find solutions that help build strong communities.”
O’Neill said he is encouraged by the establishment of a new ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation, and a Minister of State for Childcare, plus the re-establishment of the Ministry of the Environment.
“This shows that the government really got the message during the election, that people in B.C. want change in these areas,” O’Neill said. “In fact, this is exactly what Carole James and the NDP were calling for, so we really welcome this development.”
O’Neill also extended an olive branch to some of the previous cabinet’s more partisan ministers who find themselves in new portfolios—particularly those whose decisions will affect CUPE BC’s 70,000 members.
“We’re not going to prejudge Labour Minister Mike DeJong, or Education Minister Shirley Bond, based on their previous performances,” he said, “but we sincerely hope that in their new positions they will learn the importance of speaking and acting on behalf of more than half a million unionized workers in British Columbia, and in collaboration with those who represent them.”
O’Neill said it was hard to respond to the new cabinet with anything but optimism.
“The optimism level among our members isn’t high,” he said, “but it’s up to the cabinet members to prove them wrong.”
Barry O’Neill, CUPE BC president - (604) 916-8444;
Dan Gawthrop, Communications representative - (604) 291-1940.