British Columbia’s largest union is raising alarm over plans by City of Vancouver mayoral hopeful Ken Sim to slash $300 million from the City’s budget. The Union calls the move irresponsible and dangerous.

“Vancouverites are struggling with housing shortages, an affordability crisis, safety concerns, and a drug and overdose crisis. Cutting the City’s budget by nearly 20 per cent makes each one of these situations worse,” said CUPE BC President Karen Ranalletta. “Gutting the services people rely on, services that support citizens, is the exact opposite of what is needed to move Vancouver forward.”

Ranalletta, herself a Vancouverite, said that CUPE BC is speaking up about the Vancouver Mayor’s race on behalf of the many CUPE members who live and work in the city. CUPE represents workers at the Vancouver School Board, Emily Carr University, Langara and Vancouver Community colleges, Vancouver Art Gallery, Portland Hotel Society, Vancouver Coastal Health, E-Comm 911, BC Emergency Health Services (ambulance paramedics), and University of British Columbia, as well as the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Public Library, and Vancouver Parks Board.

“There are thousands of CUPE members who go to work every day to serve their community, and these Vancouver residents rely on public services like recreation, parks, sanitation, road maintenance, libraries, and childcare to support their work and home life. There is no way to cut $300 million from Vancouver’s budget without slashing the services people depend on—claiming otherwise is simply untrue,” said Ranalletta.

CUPE members work on the front line of the illicit toxic drug death crisis, including Insite, safer supply clinics, overdose prevention sites, and hundreds of units of supportive housing for hard-to-reach individuals. Front line workers advocate for expanded overdose prevention, harm reduction, and other community-level services as key strategies to reduce drug-related deaths.

“Ken Sim’s plan to address the addictions crisis by hiring more police and expanding police programs is assured to fail,” added Ranalletta. “Investments in law enforcement at the expense of funding harm reduction and City services for our most vulnerable will result in more crime, more poverty, and more death—his plan is reckless and irresponsible.”

With the support of its locals in Vancouver and following endorsement from the Vancouver Labour Council (VDLC), CUPE BC is encouraging its members in Vancouver to re-elect Mayor Kennedy Stewart and support the team of VDLC-endorsed candidates. 

CUPE BC represents 104,000 public sector workers including those working in local government, public schools, post-secondary education, community social services, libraries, community health, and emergency services.