WorkSafe NB: CUPE Reaction to Taskforce Recommendations

Fredericton – CUPE New Brunswick held a press conference this Monday to challenge the recommendations made by the Taskforce responsible for evaluating WorkSafeNB.

“Like the NB Ombuds has said, the Taskforce produced “simplistic” recommendations, and they kept a decidedly pro-employer, rather than a pro-worker stance when they proposed changes to a system made to help injured workers,” said Daniel Légère, President of CUPE NB.

While the union does not oppose all 28 recommendations contained in the report, CUPE has major concerns such as:

  • Unnecessarily limiting the powers of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal;
  • Keeping resources for injured workers services low to support privatization;
  • Insufficient workers’ and injured workers’ input and consultation to future changes to theOccupational Health and Safety Act; and
  • The lack of transparency in the appointment of worker representatives on the Taskforce.

There are also concerns around the potential privatization of the WorkSafeNB Rehabilitation Centre in Grand Bay. “It is troublesome how the Taskforce has recommended annual reviews of service delivery options and results with an eye to “finding efficiencies”. This is a frequent code word for privatization and jeopardizes the future of the Centre,” said Légère.

The Return to work initiatives must put injured workers first. “I fear the recommendations pushes WorkSafeNB to focus on “early” return rather than “safe” return to work,” added Patrick Roy, CUPE’s Health and Safety Representative.


Bargaining Forward: Open Letter to CUPE NB Members

Dear CUPE Members of New Brunswick,

Sandy and I wanted to take a moment to send you and your families a heartfelt personal note of thanks for your ongoing participation in the Bargaining Forward movement.

This Sunday, September 23rd, we finished touring the province for the Bargaining Forward presentations in our towns and communities. We visited 13 communities and towns, delivered 24 presentations in less than 3 weeks.

Thousands of members attended these meetings and left energized, engaged and confident that our solidarity and resolve can take us to unforeseen gains. This would not have been possible without all the volunteers, the Regional Action committee members, the staff and others who helped with the meetings.

While we are certainly exhausted, Sandy and I are, however, deeply reinvigorated by this tour. Members welcomed us in their communities with open arms and reminded us how truly beautiful our province is. We had the opportunity to see in person how CUPE workers, through hard work and dedication, truly hold our communities together. This is what we fight and stand for.

We appreciate all the feedback and comments we received from you during the tour. All constructive criticism helps grow our union and leaders and helps to move our movement forward.

The energy we have seen throughout the membership is unprecedented. CUPE NB hasn’t seen this in decades. We can’t stop now, and we need to put this energy to good use.

Your leadership and staff will be planning the next phase of the Bargaining Forward movement.

We will continue to update you throughout the process. All updates, including this one, will be posted on our CUPE NB website and will be sent to all local executives for distribution. We appreciate your solidarity and support.  It is essential for our bargaining committees and general membership to retain their resolve, drive and determination to take on the tasks before them.

Continue to proudly display your signs, magnets and pins. Continue all the social media shares and actions. The movement has just begun.

In solidarity,


Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President

Sandy Harding, CUPE Maritimes Regional Director



Privatized liquor is bad news for New Brunswick

CUPE 963, the union representing NB Liquor workers, opposes the potential modification of the Liquor Control Act to allow convenience stores to sell beer, wine and alcohol. This modification became an electoral promise of the Liberals this weekend.

“With the current growth of agency stores, this further erodes our service, even more so in urban areas. This is partial privatization and it will lead to closures of ANBL stores,” said Jamie Agnew, president of CUPE 963.

“This will transform good paying jobs, with those workers paying taxes, into precarious minimum wage work,” said Agnew.  “This hurts our communities, privatizes profit and socializes risk,” added Daniel Légère, president of CUPE NB.

It is a myth that privatization makes things cheaper for the consumer. CUPE notes that partial privatization of the SAQ (Société des Alcools du Québec) did not either result in cheaper alcohol prices[1]. Competition by the different retailers did not have the effect of encouraging them to reduce their profit margin.

“Transferring parts of the sale of alcohol to the private sector will reduce income for the province and reduce the number of good-paying jobs, which does not help grow our economy,” said Légère.

Currently, Alcohol New Brunswick (ANB) generates over $169 million for the public coffers.

[1] Consult the 2015 IRIS research paper on this issue (in French only):


Research Review: Attrition and its Potential Effects on New Brunswickers


Blaine Higgs, the Progressive Conservative leader, has announced that if he is elected Premier, he will cut 600 public sector jobs through attrition. Attrition means eliminating job positions after a worker retires or resigns. Some New Brunswickers think that there is no harm in this approach because no worker will actually be removed from their job.

The reality is, New Brunswickers should be concerned about attrition. It stands to reason that the jobs that would be removed are full-time, permanent jobs, with negotiated benefits – these are the types of jobs that, on the books, “cost” the province more. What happens when good, well-paying jobs disappear?

Recruitment & retention problems: Several health care and long-term care CUPE locals are facing severe recruitment and retention issues. In fact, 71% of surveyed members of the New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions indicated that in the past year, they have seriously considered changing their occupation given the increase in workload and violence in the workplace. If full-time, permanent jobs are replaced with casual, part-time and precarious jobs, it becomes more difficult to attract, and keep, new workers to alleviate the burden.

Precarity: A decrease in well-paying, full-time, permanent jobs leads to an increasingly precarious workforce. In August of 2018, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives surveyed professionals in Canada. The survey found that one in five workers experiences precarity. They work contract to contract, part-time or do freelance work. Sixty percent said that they don’t have pension plans or sick pay. These results cut across all employment sectors, professional occupations, wage levels, ages and career stages.

A sluggish economy: More precarious workers means less spending. If a worker doesn’t know when their next paycheque will be, they are less likely to invest in buying a home or building a family in New Brunswick. A 2015 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) finds that the ever-increasing precarity of work is “dramatically holding back economic growth” – both because workers have less to spend, but also because it is harder for them to invest in gaining new skills to better their situations.

And what about young workers?

The OECD study also found that:

“Much of the burden of insecure jobs is falling on youth and they are at greater risk of spending their lives in poverty than the elderly across most developed economies.”

All political parties agree that we need to keep young New Brunswickers in New Brunswick. The current situation is bleak. Reports talk of “persistent net interprovincial migration losses”, mostly of working adults aged 20-29. We have a responsibility to ensure that high school, college and university graduates have access to good jobs – for a New Brunswick that’s prosperous for generations to come.

Gabrielle Ross-Marquette is a CUPE Research Representative for the Maritimes Regional Office.




One Job Cut is One Too Many

Fredericton – Tuesday, at the PC platform launch, PC staff told reporters Higgs planned to cut 2000 jobs during the technical scrum. This question was asked by journalists, directly to Higgs. Higgs did not disprove this information, as such, the media released articles with these numbers.

At that moment, CUPE NB sent out a press release at 3:55 pm and a social media message denouncing this promise. A few hours after the press conference, the PC communications director emailed media saying the PC staffers had made a mistake, and that 600 jobs, not 2000 jobs would be cut through attrition.

“One way or another, this will affect the level of service New Brunswickers expect and deserve,” said Daniel Légère, president of CUPE NB.  “In our opinion, one job cut is one too many in our public service, which is often operating on a bare bone staff,” he added.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday’s televised Leaders’ debate, Brian Gallant’s attacked the PC leader, saying he would cut 2000 jobs out of the public sector. This was, however, not once refuted by anyone in or after the debate.

“We stand on our principle. Attrition, which means retirements are not being replaced and jobs are phased out, only worsen existing work shortages and workload issues,” said Légère. “If it happens, this would definitely mean a loss of employment opportunities for new graduates and the province’s young people,” he concluded.

CUPE NB Statement on PC’s Platform

Moncton – During the unveiling of his electoral platform this Tuesday afternoon, the New Brunswick Progressive Conservative leader Blaine Higgs promised to cut over $538 million out of public services.

“Higgs will cut front-line workers like licensed practical nurses, park employees, custodians, teachers and more. This is ridiculous, as most sectors are already understaffed and often running on a bare-bones budget,” said Daniel Légère, president of CUPE NB.

For comparison, $538 million represents 42% of the current Education budget ($1258 million), or 2.3 times the current budget of Justice and Public Safety ($231 million).

During the press conference, Higgs also promised to remove 500 public sector jobs every year he would be in power, for a total of 2000 public sector jobs. This represents cutting 13% of all public sector jobs (for a total of 15 000). After the press conference, Higgs’ communication director later “corrected” the PC declaration and said “only 600 jobs” should be cut.

“Last time I checked, our population’s needs did not shrink by 13%,” said Légère. “Higgs’ regressive-conservative vision is against the times and against hard-working families,” he added.

CUPE believes every New Brunswicker – urban or rural, young or old, deserves good public services. We can achieve this through progressive policies that grow our province, not shrink it.

Fredericton Tragedy – CUPE NB Statement

Fredericton – Last Friday, on August 10, 2018, the City of Fredericton was shaken by a terrible act of violence. In this difficult time for the community and our members, the Canadian Union of Public Employees would like to offer condolences and support to the families of the victims, the community and our members who are affected by the shooting.

“Our thoughts are with the families of the victims, the community and our members who are going through a very difficult time “, declared Brien Watson, Vice-President of CUPE NB.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees want to express gratitude toward our paramedics from Local 4848 as well as firefighters and police officers who went with courage into an extremely dangerous situation to help the victims, especially the two police officers who unfortunately made the ultimate sacrifice.

We also want to recognize the hard work of the members from CUPE 1709 (inside workers), CUPE 508 (outside workers), CUPE 1783 (transit workers), CUPE 3864 (professional technical group), CUPE 4848 (paramedics and dispatchers) and CUPE 908.01 (health care workers) who stepped up to keep the City of Fredericton running during and after this tragedy.

Their hard work will help Fredericton to begin the process of healing the wound left by this shooting.  “I have no doubt that the people of Fredericton will continue to feel confident and safe in their public spaces and events thanks to those workers,” said Watson.

Rapid Response Paramedic Units are Smoke and Mirrors

Fredericton – The New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions (Local 1252) and Local 4848, which represents Paramedics and Dispatchers in New Brunswick, say the new pilot program is nothing more than a public relations stunt. 

“This program could make sense if there weren’t over 100 full-time paramedic positions currently vacant. This plan would be taking a fully staffed ambulance with the ability to respond and transport patients to a hospital and now placing it out of service” said Norma Robinson, president of Local 1252.

On July 25, 2018, New Brunswick’s Health Minister Benoit Bourque announced a Rapid Response Unit pilot program to “improve access to emergency medical care in rural areas”, starting this fall. The Unit will require opening about 15 new bilingual paramedic positions.

“A fully staffed ambulance requires two certified paramedics and to now take 15 bilingual paramedics out of an already strained system to staff non-transport units makes no sense for patient care in rural NB.  Will the Health Minister tell the public how many ambulances will have to stay idle because of this program?” questioned Robinson.

“I understand the elections are approaching, but no matter how they dress it up, government and Medavie should be dealing with the root causes of inadequate emergency response time. Recruitment and retention of paramedics is key,” said Gregory McConaghy, president of Local 4848.

CUPE firmly believes the government should not cut corners on rural services, nor should they attempt to bypass the requirement of having two paramedics per ambulance with the ability to transport patients as quickly as possible to a hospital.

“Rural residents calling the ambulance won’t get to the hospital any faster with this program, and that is simply unacceptable,” concluded McConaghy.