I hope you are all doing well. I wanted to reach out with an update on what we have been working on since the last president’s update.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
We know that COVID-19 and the cohorting ordered by the public health order have negatively affected some of our members and reduced their income.
Casual and part-time employees who have had their hours reduced or are not getting any hours as a result of COVID-19, but are not laid off, can still access the CERB, as long as they’re making $1,000 or less per month in employment and/or self-employment income.
June 21 is National Indigenous People's Day. CUPE acknowledges and respects the rights of Indigenous peoples to their unceded territories, as well as to preserve and protect their cultures and languages. We committed to working with Indigenous nations, communities and organizations towards reconciliation, and to respect our ongoing treaty relationships.
OH&S Webinar for Saskatchewan Health Care Regions CUPE Local 5430
June 19, 2020
Web Platform: Online via Zoom
Registration Deadline: Wednesday, June 17, 2020
LIMIT: 480 People DATE: Friday, June 19, 2020 TIME: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
The purpose of this webinar is “connecting the dots” of the COVID-19 hazards with fundamental health and safety principles, as well as the rights, powers, and duties under the Occupational Health and Safety tenets of The Saskatchewan Employment Act.
The webinar will look to provide you with a sense of renewed confidence, leaving you to continue to do work safely, while knowing your rights, and while providing support to union members during these unprecedented times.
Topics that will be discussed:
Right to Refuse unsafe work.
What are the duties of the employer, the supervisor, and a worker under the SEA?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Best known practices around COVID-19.
What controls should be in place for COVID-19?
NOTE: Registrants will receive an email link to the "Zoom" meeting the day before the webinar.
Long-term care in Saskatchewan is provided, in part, by hard-working and dedicated members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 5430.
Last week those CUPE workers listened to the Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO, Scott Livingstone, and Minister of Health, Jim Reiter, speak about “cohorting” in long-term care in Saskatchewan. Cohorting is restricting staffing to a single site or facility, so that workers are not working in more than one facility.
On June 1, 2020, Mr. Livingstone told CBC News that cohorting to avoid the spread of COVID- 19 would be an experiment. He went on to say, “Lots of staff were working part-time at many different facilities, and that also is a challenge for us with respect to consistency, staffing, and hiring and keeping people employed in a single facility.” Further on in the interview, he mused, “It’s going to be interesting to see if we have the ability to continue with that long term …”
CUPE, SEIU-West, and SGEU – three Saskatchewan unions representing health providers – are calling on the provincial government to provide a wage top-up for all health care workers, who are working hard to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. An online petition, expressing support for a wage top-up has been set up to send a message to Premier Scott Moe and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
“Although the provincial and federal governments have announced supplementary wage programs for some workers, most of those in the health care system were noticeably absent from the list of eligible employees,” said Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West. “This omission needs to be fixed as soon as possible while all health care providers work diligently to flatten the curve in Saskatchewan.”
I wanted to reach out to let you know what we have been working on the last few weeks.
Today, the Bargaining Association health provider unions, SGEU-Health Providers, SEIU-West, and CUPE, launched a petition calling on the government to provide a wage top up for all health care workers who are working hard to fight the COVID pandemic. You may recall from our previous communication that the three provider unions wrote to the premier asking for all health care workers to receive recognition pay. The response we received from Minister Harpauer on May 25th outlined the program that was introduced by the government but did not address the concerns raised about the noticeably absent health care employees not covered by the program. The government’s current top up covers very few health care workers. An online petition expressing support for a wage top up has been set up to send a message to Premier Scott Moe and members of the legislative assembly (MLAs). The petition, hosted by all three unions, can be found at www.skhealthproviders.ca. Please participate and share the petition with others who may want to support this initiative.
We are CUPE Local 5430 and now more than ever our essential workers are needed to keep Saskatchewan’s health care system going. We have met this challenge head-on. With continued courage, commitment and compassion, our workers have held the frontline during these dangerous times.
The Government of Saskatchewan has provided additional information about their temporary wage supplement program (STWSP). We did not negotiate this program with the government. The government claims that this program will help 35,000 workers in the province. Notable is that this is a cost shared program with the federal government. The total cost to provide the program is $56 million, with the province’s share being only $3 million. We appreciate that the lowest wage earners in the province are receiving a top up; however, we remain concerned and will continue to advocate for recognition pay for all health care workers in Saskatchewan.
To be eligible, a worker must:
Earn a wage less than $24.00 per hour, at an eligible essential care facility, in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the STWSP; Have total gross earnings less than $2,500, including earnings from work outside an eligible essential care facility, in the four-week period for which the worker has applied for the STWSP; and
Be employed by an eligible essential care facility, including:
Public and private senior care homes;
Integrated health care facilities; and
Home care workers providing care to seniors in their own home. [The page indicates that this is Saskatchewan Health Authority home care workers.]
Acute care facilities, such as hospitals, are not eligible facilities. Eligible essential care facilities are listed alphabetically by region in the online application form (see drop-down menus under “Employer Information”).
REGINA: CUPE Local 5430 is deeply troubled by misleading claims made by Deputy Labour Minister Donna Johnson regarding workers’ rights and workplace safety.
Minister Johnson claimed that COVID-19 doesn’t pose an unusual danger and that, “If there’s no reason to say that the workplace is unsafe, then the employee essentially does not have any ability to refuse work…” These claims were made in an article which appeared on the 650 CKOM website on May 15, 2020.
Troy Winters, CUPE’s Health and Safety Senior Officer, says that by making these claims Ms. Johnson demonstrates a clear misunderstanding of how the law works. In fact, when an employee believes their workplace or the task they’ve been asked to perform is unusually dangerous they then have the right to refuse. “Every situation is unique, and a blanket statement about what is dangerous, is in itself very dangerous,”
CUPE Local 5430 is the largest health care union in Saskatchewan, representing over 13,600 members. We represent a wide range of health care providers in five major classification areas: clerical, technical, nursing, support and plant operations. Together, we each contribute to the well-being of hospital patients, long-term care residents and home care clients.