British Columbia’s biggest union is taking to the airwaves, digital media and the streets with a province-wide advertising campaign to remind people of the importance of public services as we work to build back better from the pandemic. CUPE BC has also launched the latest phase of its advocacy campaign for affordable quality childcare, focusing on creating before- and after-school childcare in public schools. The ad campaigns are featured on radio, digital media platforms, social media, digital billboards, transit shelters and popular podcasts.

“We launched this advertising campaign for a number of reasons, but the number one reason was to shine a light on the vital work CUPE members have been doing in nearly every community since the pandemic started,” said CUPE BC President Karen Ranalletta. “The pandemic has exposed so many social inequities—the pandemic experience has been very different for affluent people than it has for the hundreds of thousands of people who struggle to make ends meet. The past two years have been far more difficult on people working low and middle wage jobs than on those with higher incomes. Ensuring that our public services remain strong are one of the ways governments can ensure that when we build back, we build back better.”

The ads feature CUPE members from a wide range of the sectors represented by the union, including municipalities, K-12 public schools, transportation, community social services, colleges and universities, and community health.

“In partnership with CUPE National, we have also launched the latest phase in a major campaign to advocate for before- and after-school childcare being established in public schools,” said Ranalletta. “The lack of a plan for school-aged kids who need care before and after school is the missing piece in the provincial government’s plan for $10 a day childcare, so we’re building public support for our plan.”

The childcare campaign at encourages supporters to contact their local school trustees and ask them to work to bring childcare into public schools.

“Once you start thinking about it, the concept makes so much sense that you have to ask yourself, ‘why hasn’t this been done already?’, especially when you realize the spaces are already built and we have qualified Education Assistants already in place, the majority of whom do not receive fulltime hours,” said Ranalletta. “And it would make life a lot easier for parents and kids, with fewer transitions in the day.”

The campaigns are among the most significant in CUPE BC’s history.

“We have been committed to building our financial strength over the past 6 years and are finally able to dedicate substantial funds towards major campaigns like these,” said CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Trevor Davies. “In these unprecedented times, our executive board agreed it was really important to invest resources in a campaign to recognize how hard our members have worked throughout the pandemic and to reinforce the message that strong public services are essential to keeping our communities growing and resilient.

“And we’re very grateful to CUPE National for supporting our campaign to bring before- and after-school childcare into public schools,” said Davies. “Anyone who’s tried to find quality, affordable childcare knows how desperate the situation is, especially for working people. Bringing school-aged childcare into public schools is a no-brainer, and we hope that decision-makers are listening to the growing number of voices calling for this.”