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Tell G8/G20 leaders: It’s time for universal access to HIV treatment

In 2005, the G8 committed to providing access to HIV treatment, prevention, care and support for all those who need it by 2010.  Despite that promise, in 2008 two million people died of AIDS-related illness, and the number of new HIV infections continues to outstrip the number of people being treated.

For every moment this promise is not kept someone is dying a preventable death or becoming infected with HIV because of lack of access to treatment and prevention services.

You can help by endorsing our petition to G8/G20 leaders, and by sending a message to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, asking him to take a leadership role in ensuring universal access to treatment.


Ontario budget weakens public services

Ontario tabled a budget this week that will hurt economic recovery, penalize low-waged women workers, and reduce health care investments, says CUPE Ontario.

It makes no sense to impose a funding brake on recovery,” CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn explained, “and it is inherently unfair to freeze the incomes of many of the provinces lowest earners, most of whom are women, to subsidize $4.6 billion in corporate tax cuts.”

Health care funding is set to decline substantially over the next few years when compared to the increasing health care needs of a growing and aging population.

Equally alarming is the clear signal that the Liberal long plan includes the potential for a major asset sell-off, says Hahn.  “Selling shares of provincial infrastructure, like Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and Hydro One, and significant program funders, like the LCBO and the Lottery Corporation, will weaken Ontario’s revenue-generating capacity and permanently damage the province’s ability to provide the services Ontarians need,” Hahn said.

Victoria: Full public sewage treatment back on the table

Elected councillors have voted to leave the door open for fully public sewage treatment and resource recovery in the Capital Regional District (CRD).

CUPE ‘Keep it Public’ campaign coordinator Kim Manton said that the significant public outcry against privatization has clearly registered with elected officials.  “It is heartening to see that citizens of the West Shore now have the ability to plan for public operation and that resource recovery can also be public.  They certainly deserve to be able to get the best value – which is public operation”.  Manton said that West Shore residents will need to make their voices heard in the next few months.

A number of presenters came before the committee to urge against P3s.

The full CRD board will vote on the committee recommendation on March 31.  Following this, the provincial and federal governments will need to finally commit to covering their one-third portions of the capital costs.

NB axes risky power deal

CUPE congratulates our members in New Brunswick who worked hard to end a controversial deal to sell the majority of the province’s power-generating facilities to Québec.

New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham announced the termination of the agreement this morning.  The government said it halted the deal after Québec asked for changes to the agreement that “would have unacceptably taken away some of the value and increased some of the risks for New Brunswickers.”

The provincial government has been under intense political pressure since the agreement was first proposed in October.  CUPE members added their voices to a significant number of New Brunswickers who opposed the agreement.

This is great news,” said CUPE New Brunswick President Daniel Légère.  “It shows what ordinary people can do when they stand together in solidarity.  This is truly a David and Goliath story.”

Sherbrooke P3 arena: a predictable disaster

Sherbrooke taxpayers will have to pay $1 million to completely redo the roof of an arena that’s part of the privatized Roland-Dussault Multisport Centre.

Work on the Eugène-Lalonde Arena needs to be completed by the fall, and the consortium involved has washed its hands of any design flaws or roof drainage problems.  Now, the municipality is suing Axor, the corporation that won the P3 contract.

The legal action and new repairs are only the latest in a painful saga for the citizens of Sherbrooke that began when their sports centre was privatized.

These snowballing problems from the award of the P3 contract come as no surprise to the president of the union representing outside municipal workers, CUPE 2729.

“From the start we have said that P3s are more expensive, there is no transparency for the public, no flexibility in the terms, and no risk sharing.  It is always the public that pays the bills; the consortium is never responsible for anything,” said Rénald Dubé, CUPE 2729 president.

If the city had built the arena as a public project, the drains would have been installed properly, and the legal costs would have been avoided,” concluded Dubé.

New CUPE members in Québec City

Over 250 intermediary family resource workers at the Centre de réadaption en déficience intellectuelle in Québec City have joined CUPE.

CUPE representative Serge Morin was pleased with the outcome: “This is a real vote of confidence in the Regroupement des ressources résidentielles de Québec.  The members of this CUPE team are committed to protecting and improving the lot of these men and women who work under difficult conditions and whose dedication is not sufficiently recognized.”

The vote is the end of a lengthy saga that began in 2001 and finally resulted in legal recognition of these workers’ rights to organize.  CUPE’s immediate priority will be provincial negotiations, in collaboration with other unions in the sector, to improve compensation and achieve better working conditions for these employees.

:te/cope 491