CUPE 1190: Unnecessary Cuts Lead to Dangerous Roads

Fredericton – CUPE Local 1190, representing New Brunswick highway workers, held a news conference today to outline its concerns about reductions by the provincial Department of Transportation and Infrastructure to the Winter Maintenance Program.

Andrew Hardy, CUPE 1190 President, shows the hotline ad

Andrew Hardy, CUPE 1190 President, shows the hotline ad

At the conference, CUPE Local 1190 officially relaunched their “Bad Road Hot Line” for tracking road conditions following the reductions to the Winter Maintenance Program.

“We are asking the government to reverse past cuts: reducing the Winter Maintenance Program in a province like New Brunswick is really not an option,” said Andy Hardy, president of CUPE Local 1190.

Hardy listed several reductions that have resulted from pasts cuts in the Winter Maintenance program:

  • 26 plows and graders will not be available to plow the roads; this on top of the 29 pieces of heavy equipment that were parked in 2013, which means DTI is now working with 55 fewer pieces of equipment;
  • 70 less operators in the Winter Maintenance Program since 2013-2014;
  • No spare operators will be available in some divisions around the province;
  • Reduced sand and salt budgets.
  • $6.2 million have been given to the Quebec consulting firm PVA, money that’s leaving the province and could be used on New Brunswick roads.

“CUPE Local 1190 members take a great deal of pride in keeping our roads safe and clear, but with each round of budget cuts, this is becoming increasingly difficult,” says Hardy.

This year, a window of opportunity will open to undo privatized plowing and P3 highways: the Moncton-Fredericton highway P3 contract with MRDC expires on January 1st, 2017, and will be up for renegotiation.

“Private sector plowing costs more and is less efficient than public sector highway work. This government has a chance to make a deal for our citizens’ safety. It’s time to bringing the work back in-house” concluded Hardy.

Hardy était entouré du vice président de la section locale 4848, Bill Cameron, qui représente les ambulanciers paramédicaux, et Brien Watson,Président de la section locale 1253, qui représente les chauffeurs d’autobus scolaires.

From left to right: Bill Cameron, CUPE 4848; Brian Watson, CUPE 1253, Andrew Hardy, President CUPE 1190; & David Perkins, CUPE National Representative.

N.B. health care workers frustrated: federal Liberals to maintain Harper cuts to health transfers

Fredericton – The New Brunswick Council of Hospital Unions (NBCHU) and CUPE New Brunswick are worried that the federal government is underfunding health care to accelerate privatization in provinces.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott recently revealed that she would be keeping Harper’s target for health transfers to provinces. In April 2017, Harper’s cuts to health care will kick in. Instead of increasing at 6% a year, the health transfers will be tied to economic growth, with a 3% floor.NS home support workers push back sector-wide privatization

“Already, the health care system is being stretched to the limit. Over the years, hospitals have been closed, communities in rural areas lost health services, and the level of service has been reduced,” said Norma Robinson, President of the NBCHU.

“New Brunswick relies heavily on federal funding to offer health care services throughout the province. Going from 6% to 3% means the province will have less money at a time where demand is increasing, drug prices keep rising, and health costs go up faster than inflation,” said Robinson.

“Our province stands to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years – over
700 million dollars in 10 years. This is going to hurt in our regions, and will reduce our capacity to deliver good services,” said Daniel Légère, CUPE NB President.

“With the 6% escalator gone, we might see our provincial Health Minister propose hospital closures and bed cuts, aim for further reduction of services and staff, especially in smaller communities,” warns Légère.

If Harper’s cuts are maintained, the federal government’s share of health care spending will shrink to a small fraction of its original 50% contribution – down to 18.6% by 2024.

“There have been cut over cut since the 1990s. With our aging population, we can’t afford to deliver even less health services. Premier Gallant and Minister Boudreau should stand up and make this the number one priority for this government,” concluded Légère.

School bus overcrowding result of unnecessary cuts

Saint-John – Unreasonable cuts to education are resulting in overcrowded buses, says CUPE Local 380, the union representing school bus drivers in the Saint-John area.school_bus

“Since the Anglophone School District South has eliminated one bus run, buses have been overcrowded,” said Christopher Watson, President of CUPE Local 380.

It was recently reported that on one bus run, there were close to 100 students on board, many of them forced to stand or sit in the aisles.

“The parents are now saying what our local had flagged to the District this summer. Cutting corners in education has effectively resulted in unsafe environments for students and drivers,” said Watson.

“Every time our government closes a school, this means more bussing and bus routes rezoning. However, this District has cut on buses too, to the point of putting the safety of children and workers in jeopardy,” said Brien Watson, President of CUPE 1253, who represents school bus drivers throughout the province.

CUPE 1253 represents more than 2700 bus drivers, custodians and maintenance workers in 29 locals working for school districts across New Brunswick. Find us online at www.1253.ca or follow us on Facebook.com/CUPE-SCFP-LOCAL-1253

“Who Cares?” – CUPE launches campaign for public integration of Community Care Services in NB

Fredericton – This Monday, CUPE officially launches a campaign named “Who Cares?” to get government and the public to talk about community care services (CCS). CUPE is advocating that services such as group homes, special care homes, transition houses and home care should be integrated under public administration.

Julie Doucet, CUPE campaign spokesperson, answers questions from media during launch

Julie Doucet, CUPE campaign spokesperson, answering questions from media after launch press conference in September 2016.

“Users and workers in the sector need an organized and structured system. It makes no sense that government maintains a hands-off approach in such essential care services,” said Julie Doucet, one of CUPE’s spokesperson for the campaign.

The level of fragmentation in the community care sector remains at an all-time high. On the provincial level, K-12 Education has 7 administrative units, Healthcare has 2. Currently, there are more than 650 administrative units in the CCS sector alone. The absence of a centralized system, combined with worrying demographic trends, spells major trouble for policy makers and the general public.

“If we are to spend money on community care, let’s make sure it is spent wisely with a transparent administration. At the moment, the 10 000 workers in this sector, mainly women, are earning less than $13 an hour, but there are no real standards of work because of the fragmented system,” said Doucet.

“While many of the CCS providers are already funded through Social Development, there is no public management or oversight of the sector. Government is throwing money at these providers in a complete lack of structure,” said Luc LeBlanc, CUPE Research Representative. “This means waste through inefficiency and no real power for government to ensure successful implementation of any care strategy, such as those to reduce pressure on our hospitals through better home care,” added LeBlanc.

Auditor General Kim MacPherson had recommended in her June Report that government still needed to develop a comprehensive long-term plan for our aging population. She had said that it should include a multi-faceted solution involving nursing homes, other long-term care facilities, in-home care, family support to serve New Brunswick seniors.

You can learn more about the campaign at www.facebook.com/WhoCaresQuiCompte