CUPE PEI Reaction to the Island’s 2020-2021 Budget

 

On June 17 2020, PEI Finance Minister Darlene Compton presented the PEI Government’s provincial operational budget.  

 

The PEI Government has chosen a middle of the road budget, which “supports both employees and employers,” as Minister Compton said. The Canadian Union of Public Employees’ Prince Edward Island Division is pleased to see that this Government has made the right decision, during this pandemic, to steer clear from the disastrous path of austerity.

 “I commend the investments in K-12 education, the post-secondary education contingency fund, the active transportation network, support to housing, climate action initiatives, investment in crucial non-profits and the public sector,” noted Leonard Gallant, President of CUPE PEI. 
 
While CUPE PEI notes the positive investments made in health, there is concern over many front-line workers being forgotten: “I am concerned there was not a recognition of the recruitment and retention issues facing front-line workers in healthcare such as licenced practical nurses, orderlies, patient care support, clerical, environmen

tal services and many more,” said Gallant. “Their dedication to beat the pandemic was and continues to be admirable,” said Gallant. 

 

CUPE PEI advocates for investment of public money in worker support, childcare, publicly owned and run infrastructure. “The trend of encouraging for-profit, rather than public care, is perhaps what irritates me the most in this overall fair budget,” concluded Gallant.   

 

“Everybody needs to do their share, from individuals to businesses, to help in the recovery,” said Gallant. “Workers are doing their part for sure. I hope, when budget details get worked out in each Department, workers get the full acknowledgement they deserve,” concluded Gallant. 

PEI Workers Need Wage Recognition

Charlottetown – As Prime Minister Trudeau announced a $4 Billion Wage Top-up program targeting essential service workers in every province, CUPE PEI believes the Island government should improve wages of all front-line workers and expand the recognition to include all that have been tirelessly providing care and services since the beginning. 

“We commend the Governments in working towards compensating front-line workers and recognizing that many are low wage earners, but the format used could indeed miss the mark and cause inequity from those receiving the benefit,” said Leonard Gallant, president of CUPE PEI Division.  

The Federal Government has accepted to pay 75% of the expenses of its cost-shared Wage Recognition program. Each province is responsible for the remaining 25%.

“Nothing prevents PEI Premier King to improve wages beyond the scope of this program. We have overstretched and overburdened public sector staff in many sectors which should benefit from wage improvements,” said Gallant.

“From healthcare to long-term care, from community care to all others deemed essential who have been facing the challenges head on from the onset providing services for PEI throughout the first stages of this pandemic, the time is right to promote the premise of a living wage and look at all sectors on PEI,” he added.

Gallant says PEI has been plagued with low wages for too long and taking care of front-line workers is the best way to give our province a good economic boost.

“Coupled with our relatively enviable position in the current context, boosting our local economy will give us an edge. It would make the Island even more attractive to newcomers too,” said Gallant.  “We need to explore the idea of improving the wages of public and private sector workers offering many of them a living wage,” he concluded

CUPE PEI notes that even before the Federal announcement was made, Ontario, BC, Quebec and many other provinces had already begun a wage top up program for front-line workers. 

CUPE PEI represents over 3300 members on the Island in many sectors such as municipalities, healthcare and education. Our mandate is to advocate for equality and fairness for all workers. 

CERB Works, Cheap Labour Does Not

Charlottetown, May 6, 2020 – CUPE PEI denounces PEI Premier Dennis King’s plan to reduce the reach of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for PEI residents.

Premier Dennis King in Georgetown, PEI.

“Premier King wants to downgrade the CERB in order to force PEI residents to take underpaid work,” said Leonard Gallant, president of the PEI Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

CUPE PEI is of the opinion that encouraging workers to fill job vacancies does not require cutting benefits to workers who lost employment because of COVID-19.

“It’s very disappointing to see the Premier spread the idea that Islanders need “negative incentives” to work. Does he think Islanders deserve less than residents of any other province?” wonders Gallant.

The Premier’s declaration seems to ignore PEI’s relative high cost of living and recent housing price crisis.

“Islanders will work for good wages and decent conditions. If those unfilled jobs paid better, they would be taken up quite quickly. That’s why we call it the “Labour Market,” said Gallant.

For many years, CUPE PEI has advocated for a minimum wage that is a true “living wage” for all.

“We invite Premier King to turn his head to improving wages and lives of all. We should aim to do better than a “cheap labour” economy,” concluded Gallant.

CUPE PEI represents over 3300 members on the Island in many sectors such as municipalities, healthcare and education.

CUPE PEI Update on COVID-19 – April 21 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Thanks to a fortunate mix of hard work, patience, front-line efforts, geography and a pinch of luck, PEI and NB are both experiencing below average progression rates of COVID-19.

Despite this relatively enviable position in our country, the Federal government has not indicated when they will seriously consider loosening public health restrictions to reopen the domestic economy. This will be likely done in phases with some regions and industries starting sooner than others. It is too early to say what will happen.

Members are doing important work across both provinces in our region during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the public is noticing. This is good news for us, as before this crisis, too many front-line workers were forgotten or underappreciated by government. Keep up the good work!


The CUPE Maritimes staff is doing phenomenal work and I want to recognize their efforts. They have been “behind the scenes” working long hours ensuring CUPE members are having their rights respected and that information that members need is being shared. We have daily staff calls to share information and work collaboratively and this united and consistent approach is working very well in our region.

Bargaining Paused Until May 11th

As you were already aware of the bargaining talks being paused, I wanted to let you that there will be no bargaining at least until May 11th, 2020. On that day, we will reassess the situation and inform members. For the moment, government and employer negotiators cannot meet, as there is still not enough safety to permit gatherings or hold in person talks.

Meeting virtually and doing union business in a new way

As you were already aware of the bargaining talks being paused, I wanted to let you that there will be no bargaining at least until May 11th, 2020. On that day, we will reassess the situation and inform members. For the moment, government and employer negotiators cannot meet, as there is still not enough safety to permit gatherings or hold in person talks.

ass gatherings will likely not be feasible until restrictions are lifted in many, many months from here. Therefore, every local should do all they can to have the capacity to conduct all necessary business according to their bylaws. This means adopting new technologies and online meeting tools. Talk to your servicing reps on electronic voting tools and the best way to keep conducting union business.

REMINDER: Every CUPE member must register online so that we can have emergency communication lines and electronic voting capacity. Please ask your local union rep for the registration link.

It is very important that you add your current local number in the form. If you do not know your local number, please clearly indicate the employer you work for (where you work) in the box titled “Name of Employer”.
Personal cellphone numbers (not work cellphones) are needed to ensure mass member emergency texting. To keep our lists as “clean” as possible, we ask that you do not post the links on social media.

Updates on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and EI Emergency Response Benefit (EI-ERB)

CERB has been expanded and made more flexible. The federal government is making changes to aid seasonal workers without jobs and those whose hours have been drastically cut but who still have some income. The changes will also allow people who are making up to $1,000 a month to qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, as well as those whose employment insurance benefits have run out since the start of the calendar year.

For those doing jobs deemed essential and making less than $2,500 a month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will top up their pay to encourage them to keep going into work during the health and economic crisis.

To apply to the CERB, visit : https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Servicing Representative.

In Soldarity,

Sandy Harding
Maritimes Regional Director

Easter Message

Hello all,

Thank you to all CUPE PEI members for their hard work and dedication during this COVID-19 pandemic. Here at CUPE PEI, we have been working on several things over this past week. This week, we recorded a radio ad that everyone should start hearing shortly thanking all CUPE members and all essential workers for their work during this difficult time. We are also currently putting together a COVID-19 webpage for information for membership during this time and it should be ready very soon. More details on that to come.

The National Executive Board continues to have weekly phone conference calls to deal with issues. They have waived all CUPE National initiation fees (one-time fee for new members or any members that were not in good standing) until December 31, 2020.The National Presidents office is giving Locals some extended time to arrange how Local business will continue, if you need clarity or if you have any questions please contact your servicing representative.

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit applications started this week, and applicants should shortly start to see those payments. CUPE National is working with the Federal government to ensure the benefits applies to more workers, including seasonal workers and students who have been unable to secure employment due to the pandemic. Please remember that this benefit will be included in taxable income for the year 2020.

The Chief Health Office has begun to increase the amount of testing for COVID-19. We are hearing from them that we need to continue the self isolating and social distancing. We are doing good, but we are not done with COVID-19 yet.

CUPE PEI is planning the when and where our AGM will take place we will have more information on this next week. We are sure this past month has reminded everyone just how important public services are and, as people, we sometimes take these services for granted. Lets ensure we all take some time this Easter Weekend to thank the people providing services to us and those who are in need during these difficult times.

Happy Easter, Stay Safe

Leonard Gallant