TO ALL CUPE CHARTERED ORGANIZATIONS

This week the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, a global pandemic.

We recognize this is causing great concern for our members, many of whom are on the front lines providing care and support to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Public services are the backbone of a safe and healthy community, and are never more important than in the face of a crisis. We have always been proud of the work our members do despite the many challenges they face, including chronic underfunding and austerity measures by governments. We want to acknowledge that work today as you help your communities navigate this new crisis, while dealing with your own challenges and family responsibilities.

It is important that our members know that their union will be there for them throughout this crisis. In the coming weeks, our members may face closures, cancellations and quarantines that impact their work and their workplaces. As always, CUPE staff are available to help ensure our members’ rights and benefits are fully protected. The work of our union continues, and COVID-19 does nothing to change that.

We know that spring is a busy season for union meetings. CUPE locals should check advisories from local and provincial public health agencies before making decisions to cancel or postpone meetings and events. Democratic principles of accountability and transparency remain important, and staff are available to assist in the application and interpretation of the National Constitution and your bylaws.

CUPE will continue to monitor the situation, and will make decisions about whether to proceed with upcoming national meetings, courses, and events as required.

CUPE will be posting updates for our members as they become available on our website at https://cupe.ca/search/COVID. We recommend checking back regularly.

Stay safe, and stay strong.

In solidarity,

MARK HANCOCK
National President

CHARLES FLEURY
National Secretary-Treasurer

CUPE Canada News

  • Child care centres facing COVID-19 crunch: CUPE Saskatchewan calls for immediate action
    by 882 on March 27, 2020 at 3:30 pm

    The Saskatchewan Government’s approach to child care centres amidst COVID-19 is causing widespread confusion for child care providers. “Saskatchewan’s child care centres are struggling with the impacts of COVID-19 – including declining enrolment, loss of income and uncertainty about potential closures,” said Judy Henley, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “And there has been no clear direction from this government to child care centres, and the message they are delivering to our members is different from centre to centre.” And now, due to the Sask Party’s changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act, child care workers across the province are facing layoffs with no notice or compensation. “We are already seeing the impact of the government’s decision to waive the layoff notice. Many of our members in the child care sector have been let go at the end of the day – with no notice or no compensation,” said Henley. “Even in a pandemic situation, every worker deserves adequate notice of job loss.” CUPE Saskatchewan is calling for immediate measures to be put in place to protect child care workers, and parents. “Quality, affordable child care is an important public service that Saskatchewan families rely on. We can’t let this pandemic jeopardize our provincial child care centres,” added Henley. “In addition, parents need assurance that they will retain their child care spot if they pull their children out without proper notice due to health concerns.” Other jurisdictions across Canada are leading the way on this file. In British Columbia, child care centres that remain open are eligible to receive up to seven times their average funding from government, which is expected to cover approximately 75% of a group facility’s average monthly operating expenses. In Nova Scotia, parents will not pay for services not provided by licensed child care providers and the government will cover parents’ contributions to ensure that centres aren’t forced to close their doors and that employees will still be paid. “We must look at immediately putting in place compensation for child care centres so they can continue to operate with reduced enrolment,” said Henley. “And in the event of child care closures, the province must provide funding to closed programs so that staff are paid, and parents are not charged fees.” Several provinces, including Quebec and Newfoundland have continued to fund child care programs during closure so that operators can pay staff, not charge parent fees, and avoid financial distress themselves. “The Saskatchewan government needs to take action to support parents and our province’s child care centres,” said Henley.

  • National Executive Board Highlights - March 2020
    by 5817 on March 27, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Our National Executive Board met March 10 – 12, 2020 in Ottawa. These are the highlights of their deliberations and decisions. In Memory The National Executive Board (NEB) observed a minute of silence to reflect upon the loss of members in our CUPE family. Remembered were: Linda Joyce, Local 1158; Peter Dahl, Local 787; John Fraser, HEU; Dennis Malone, Local 831; Lorne Saunders, retired staff; Yvonne Fast, retired staff. COVID-19 While the NEB was meeting, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. They discussed the impact this would undoubtedly have on our members and our communities. Your National Executive Board continues to meet, by teleconference, on a regular basis as this public health crisis evolves. Information Technology The Board reviewed the annual report on CUPE’s Information Technology. The report highlighted investments made to enhance and stabilize our network infrastructure by moving to the Cloud, in moving our telecommunications to Skype for Business, and in providing staff with laptops in place of desktop computers. All of these investments made our organization more nimble and have vastly improved our capacity to work remotely. Alberta Fightback Campaign The NEB approved a request from CUPE Alberta for financial support fromCUPE’s Fightback Fund in order to mobilize members in response to the provincial government’s attack on public sector pension plans and the Canada Pension Plan, and in anticipation of legislative attacks on the Charter rights of unions and our members. Regional Trial Panels On recommendation of the National President, the Board appointed members to serve on regional trail panels. These members will receive training in the coming months and will be called upon to serve on trial committees as needed. The new trial procedure, adopted at our 2019 National Convention, comes into force on June 1st, 2020. Financial Support The National Executive Board approved 28 cost-shared campaign requests totaling $988,060.19, and 15 requests for legal support totaling $992,249.57.

  • A video update from Mark Hancock - Stay safe and stay strong
    by 2604 on March 27, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    These are difficult and stressful times. Listen to this message from CUPE National President Mark Hancock praising the dedication of CUPE members and offering encouragement to those facing job loss or risks to their health and safety.

  • COVID-19 infections among Ontario health care workers spike
    by 7163 on March 26, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    The fight against the spread of COVID-19 hinges on Ontario hospital and long-term care, home care workers and paramedics not contracting the virus in large numbers, so that they can care for the sick across the province. But already dozens of health care staff have COVID-19. This includes one who is very ill with the virus contracted at a home where residents have died from coronavirus. Recent member polling and information gathering by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) which represents about 90,000 health care staff in Ontario shows that masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are being rationed at their workplaces, locked up or in some cases being denied to them entirely. Seventy per cent of CUPE’s 2400 hospital sector members said that the Ontario government is not doing enough to protect them or the people they care for. “Health care workers rise each day and meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, putting their own health and the health of their families at risk. All they ask is that they be given adequate protection,” says Michael Hurley President of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE). In Italy and in Spain, more than 10 per cent of health care workers are now infected, following safety protocols like Ontario’s and with similar equipment shortages. Hurley is urging “the Ontario government to revise its protocols on safety and release its stockpile of expired N95 masks immediately, across the healthcare system. Every day that equipment is rationed, and staff become infected, they can infect other staff and more importantly, very vulnerable hospital patients and long-term care residents. Immediate action can make all the difference now.” Following the SARS Royal Commission recommendation, Ontario stockpiled 55 million N95 masks, but allowed that stock to expire and did not replenish it. Some masks have been destroyed. Now there are just under a million of these N95 masks that may be earmarked for use outside the health sector. The N95 mask is recommended for use on viruses that could be airborne. Many respected organizations call for health care workers who came into direct contact with suspected or actual COVID-19 cases to take airborne precautions, including an N95 mask. Ontario changed its policy on the airborne nature of the virus when it became clear it does not have enough masks. “Let’s not squander the small window of opportunity we have left to flatten the COVID-19 contagion curve,” says CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick. She is urging the Premier and long-term care minister to increase access for nursing home staff to PPE. “To them I say, please consider that fragile residents are at greater risk of getting COVID-19. However, care staff have little access to regular surgical masks and few to N95 masks even in homes in Durham, Toronto and the Hamilton area, where we know residents are COVID-19 positive. Don’t abandon the dedicated long-term care staff when they do so much under challenging workloads, at the best of times. Protect them. Keep them safer.”

  • Airlines: Federal relief must focus on workers now, not CEOs
    by 31 on March 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    As you know, thousands of airline workers, including thousands of CUPE members, have already been laid off due to the global outbreak of COVID-19, and the airline industry needs help now to stay afloat in coming months. Send an email to Prime Minister Trudeau to make sure any federal relief for the airline industry focuses first and foremost on workers like our 15,000 flight attendant members. To find out more about the content of the immediate airline federal aid package proposed by Canada’s unions, read the letter sent to the government by CUPE National President Mark Hancock, along with the leaders of the Canadian Labour Congress and other unions representing 50,000 airline workers across the country.

  • Good news for the STM – No layoffs of drivers, operators, station agents and adapted transit drivers in Montreal
    by 5817 on March 26, 2020 at 1:45 pm

    Since Monday at 3 pm, important talks have been under way between the STM and the union representing bus drivers, metro operators and employees performing related services at the STM to reorganize the drivers’ work during this unprecedented health crisis. “The parties held talks extending late into last night before agreeing on a protocol to maintain the salaries and jobs of the 4500 members we represent. Prompt action and leadership were crucial to this very sensitive situation,” explained Renato Carlone, President of the Syndicat des chauffeurs (CUPE 1983). In short, the work reorganization protected the salary and job status of the members. In return, the employer will be permitted to make adjustments to employee assignments as a temporary measure during this crisis. The aim of the Syndicat des chauffeurs de la STM was to proceed strategically to avoid ministerial decrees. Several public sectors have already been subjected to these decrees, which significantly change and are detrimental to the working conditions of numerous workers. Occupational health and safety The occupational health and safety of members remain the union’s priority according to Carlone. He also added that “the union is in continuous contact with the STM to resolve all of the problems that arise in our workplaces. We always keep our eyes peeled for best practices and will do everything it takes to safeguard the health of our members.”