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CUPE mourns Michael Starker

Michael Starker, a paramedic and member of CUPE 3421 in Calgary, became the 83rd Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan, May 6.

My thoughts are with Brother Starker’s family and my heart grieves for their loss,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist.  “This is a terrible event that overwhelms all CUPE members with great sadness”.

Starker began working for Calgary EMS in 2005, and was also in the Canadian Forces Reserves.  He became a paramedic in 2007.

There’s a tremendous sense of loss among our members – a despair,” said CUPE 3421 president Bruce Robb.  “He was well liked by his immediate group of co-workers”.

50,000 people march for public health care in Montréal

CUPE members were very much in evidence at the May 3 rally for public health care in Montréal.

Organizers turned the yearly May Day march into a rally for public health care.

Unions and community groups braved bad weather to defend the public health care system and decry the federal and Québec governments for allowing the incremental privatization of the system through private clinics.

PEI school buses grounded

PEI’s school boards pulled their 320 buses off the roads this week to check them for rust, after years of ignoring warnings from CUPE members.

This situation did not come as a surprise to us,” said CUPE 1145 President Myles Noye.  “We raised this issue many times with government officials”.

Noye said the local has been pushing the board to replace its buses every 12 years.

Other provinces already have rotation programs in place, similar to what we have been proposing,” he added.

CUPE members in Bill C-484 protest

Three hundred people protested Parliament’s second reading of Bill C-484, “The Unborn Victims of Crime Act” in Ottawa, May 3.

The private members bill, put forward by Conservative Edmonton MP Ken Epp creates a separate offence for killing a fetus when a pregnant woman is murdered.

Protestors also gathered in Toronto, Edmonton, and Ottawa to make sure this doesn’t happen in Canada.

Newfoundland president goes full time

CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador convention delegates have voted to make division president into a full-time job.

After winning the election for an unprecedented 10th consecutive term, Wayne Lucas said, “Fighting privatization and protecting public services is going to be a full time job.  We also want to make sure that working families get their fair share of our province’s newfound prosperity”.

Delegates also voted to fund more book-offs for members involved in campaigns against contracting-out and privatization.

Health care workers talk with community about loss of lab services at Renfrew hospital

Health care workers and residents of Renfrew, Ontario met this week to talk about how the province’s effort to restructure laboratory services will affect the community.

CUPE 1548 president Lee-Ann Somerville, whose members work at Renfrew’s Victoria Hospital, said recently “Our lab has already lost some services, like microbiology and haematology, and this makes it more difficult to get the results quickly for our patients”.

CUPE researcher Doug Allan said the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) have been put in place to manage cuts in funding for hospitals by reducing the range of services provided by each hospital.

Ontario Council of Hospital Unions President Michael Hurley said despite earlier promises to the contrary, management at hospital laboratories is moving to centralize eastern Ontario testing in Ottawa.

This project is wrong from a public health perspective and is not even supposed to generate significant savings,” Hurley said.

Allen added that in Ajax-Pickering the community was able to keep birth services and more recently their mental health beds.

Vancouver school trustees agree to keep Garibaldi Annex open

A coalition of parents, community associations, and organizations including CUPE BC and CUPE 15 have convinced Vancouver school trustees to keep Garibaldi Annex open.

The school had been threatened with closure, but a seven month campaign, culminating in a huge crowd at last week’s board of trustees meeting, paid off as trustees voted to accept a proposal that would keep the school open and add distance learning and early learning to its mandate.

CUPE Ontario slams McGuinty’s poor people-free forums on poverty

Ontario should consult openly with poor people and social activists on poverty, Sid Ryan said.

The CUPE Ontario president was referring to an invitation-only consultation in Peterborough where anti-poverty activists like former MPP Jenny Carter and others were ‘manhandled’ out of the building by security guards.

Something is seriously wrong when groups that have been working on the front lines of communities to alleviate poverty are not on the invitation list to these exclusive meetings,” says Ryan.

Who is being invited to these meetings?” asked CUPE Ontario VP Candace Rennick. “People living in poverty were not.  Neither were community workers or social activists.  It’s shameful”.

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