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CUPE to push for change at COP 15

A delegation from the Canadian Union of Public Employees will be in Copenhagen, Denmark from December 7 to 18 for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as the 15th Conference of the Parties, or “COP 15”).

The delegation, led by National Secretary-Treasurer Claude Généreux, will be part of one of the largest Canadian labour contingents ever to attend a COP meeting.

Climate change poses the most serious challenge humanity has ever confronted,” says Généreux.  “On behalf of over 600,000 CUPE members in Canada, we want to bring the message to the COP 15 that CUPE is serious about halting climate change and creating a more sustainable Canadian economy.”

Alongside members of the Canadian and international labour movement, CUPE will push for a binding, fair, and ambitious accord to cut greenhouse gas emissions; “just transition” provisions for workers displaced by the move to a low-carbon economy; and sufficient financing to help developing economies adjust to climate change.

Support strong for paramedics – poll

A new poll shows solid support for B.C.’s ambulance paramedics in their demands to improve ambulance service in B.C. and negotiate a collective agreement.

When the provincial government passed Bill 21 “back to work” legislation on November 7, the 3,500 ambulance paramedics had been on strike for seven months, but were already working under essential services orders. 

According to the Strategic Communications poll commissioned by CUPE, an almost 3-1 margin of British Columbians called the legislation unnecessary.

More than 75% of British Columbians say that ambulance paramedics should have their contract determined by an independent third-party arbitration process similar to the one already in place for B.C.’s firefighters and police.

Despite repeated requests by CUPE 873 Ambulance Paramedics of BC to use that mechanism for paramedics, the provincial government has refused.

Minister stays silent as closure looms over children’s aid society

Ontario’s Minister of Child and Youth Services is staying silent in the face of a looming December14 deadline for the forced closure of the Payukotayno James & Hudson Bay Family Services, which provides child welfare, mental health and youth justice programming to remote and First Nations communities.

On November 4, our agency made a formal presentation to the Ministry requesting funding assistance, and now only days away from our closure date, we still have not had one word of reply,” said Mike Tomatuk, spokesperson for CUPE Local 4313 representing staff at Payukotayno Child and Family Services in Moose Factory.

The Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada have taken the Canadian government to the Tribunal in an effort to hold them responsible for its current treatment of First Nations children.  “The complaint alleges that the Government of Canada had a longstanding pattern of providing less government funding for child welfare services to First Nations children on reserves than is provided to non-Aboriginal children.”

CUPE Local 4313 represents 95 front line and support workers at Payukatayno.

Hahn elected president of CUPE Ontario

Fred Hahn, secretary-treasurer of CUPE Ontario, was elected CUPE Ontario president by the CUPE Ontario Executive Board earlier this week.

Hahn joined CUPE in 1990 after deciding to use his degree from the University of Toronto to advocate for children with intellectual disabilities at Community Living Toronto.  Hahn also makes labour history as the first openly gay man to lead a union in Ontario.

Candace Rennick was also elected to replace Hahn as secretary-treasurer of CUPE Ontario.  A labour activist since her teens, Rennick has long been a pioneer within Ontario’s labour movement, becoming President of CUPE Local 2280, representing long-term care staff at St. Joseph’s at Fleming, a senior’s care facility in Peterborough, at the age of 22.

Prince George brings home the gold

CUPE municipal workers are to be congratulated as Prince George was recently awarded the prestigious Gold Canada Award of Excellence Quality Award from the National Quality Institute, based in Toronto.  This award is a three-year certification and Prince George has achieved Level 4.  Only municipalities that have achieved Level 4 can apply for the Gold Award.

The National Quality Institute (NQI) carefully audits and measures services and city operations against high standards related to excellence in leadership, planning, citizen and client focus, people focus, process management, supplier/partner focus and overall organizational performance.

CUPE members from Local 399 and 1048 win kudos for their participation, feedback and suggestions on improvements to services, and the high quality of services they provide to Prince George residents.

SHARE BC hears labour’s solutions for pensions

Over 125 delegates at the SHARE forum heard from Brother Paul Moist on December 11.  The Shareholder Association for Research and Education brings together pensions activists to discuss current issues facing pension plans.  This forum provided an opportunity to present labour’s solutions:

- doubling of CPP benefits;
- immediate 15% increase to Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement benefits;
- a federal pension insurance fund; and
- a national summit on pensions.

Beloeil P3 scrapped

Public-private partnerships (P3s) have encountered a new setback in Québec, when the Beloeil municipal council voted unanimously to scrap its P3 sports center and all P3-related procedures.

“Today, we can celebrate a victory for the people and our members,” exclaimed the visibly happy union president Johanne Gauthier.  “It was a bad project that was too expensive and ill-suited to the needs of the people and employees of Beloeil.  Now we can take a new approach to the project without being beholden to a private contractor for
30 years.”

For months, CUPE has sent a loud and clear message denouncing the use of a P3 to restore the arena and build a multipurpose recreation center.  Through press releases, open letters, flyers, demonstrations, and ads, CUPE pulled out all the stops to raise public awareness.

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