Lethbridge Area Council Rep
Prairie Region Council November 2019
Since my May 2019 report, the Lethbridge and District Area Council (LDAC) has been busy with several community events, the Alberta Federation of Labour Fight Back Strategy, and the federal election.
Community Events: Lethbridge Pride is an entire month event with the culmination of the Lethbridge Pride Parade on June 22. This year the event was well attended with nearly 30 members from three different PASC components walking in the parade. We walked about 3km ending Lethbridge’s central park; Galt Gardens. There were approximately 5000 people lining the streets leading up to the big party in Galt Gardens. Other events that the LDAC took part in for Pride month included the Lethbridge Pride Flag raising in at City Hall and the Trans March.
Sr. Danielle Poissant (UNDE local 30907) took the lead on PSAC info tent at the Medicine Hat Canada Day Celebrations. The tent has information about PSAC bargaining, Here for Canada campaign and swag. The tent had visitors from PSAC members and members of the community including other unions voicing their support (IBEW, PIPSC, UNA and HSAA).
On July 7, members of the committee volunteered at the AFL Fair Start for Kids BBQ that was held in Lethbridge. This year the theme are about a Fair Start for Women and Sr. Karen Mah helped to capture nearly 70 signatures on the petition the Legislative Assembly to commit to a fair start for women through Early Childhood Education and Care.
In August the LDAC supported an event held in Lethbridge called Shelter Me! Party in the Park. This event was a family event, with the main message of encouraging inclusiveness in the Galt Gardens Park. It was an opportunity for all community members to come together and learn more about homelessness and issues around homelessness (addiction, poverty, housing availability, mental health, etc). There were many family friendly activities, as well as live entertainment and an opportunity to learn from local agencies about resources provided to people who live in homelessness, as well as other resources available to individuals and families in our community! The LDAC feels that homelessness is a political issues and that being out and about in our community bringing awareness to this issue is one way to can effect change be it municipally, provincially or federally.
Finally, the biggest event for the summer, the Lethbridge Labour Day BBQ was a huge success, with over 1000 community members joining the Lethbridge Labour Council and its affiliates at Kinsmen Park. The LDAC setup the PSAC Prairies tent and handed out PSAC swag, literature and cotton candy. The cotton candy was a huge success bringing all the children (and parents) to our table. We were able to connect with community members on what public services we provide in Lethbridge and how we are still affected by Phoenix. Big thank you to Area Council volunteers: Karen Mah, Sherry Hunt, Dorothy McRae, Patti Wright, Krysty Thomas, Kole Thomas and William Dowson.
The Area Council also provided some support for two public films screenings in Lethbridge. The first being Heroin(e) a film about the opioid epidemic, a pertinent issue in Lethbridge. The second being the National Film Board’s nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, a film about Colten Boushie’s death that raises questions about racism embedded within Canada’s legal system and propelling Colten’s family to national and international stages in their pursuit of justice. For both films, the LDAC provided some refreshments for those in attendance. We were acknowledge for our support on the posters, digital shares, and social media.
Alberta Federation of Alberta – Alberta Fightback Strategy: In the spring session of the Alberta Legislature, the current UCP government introduced several bills that are direct attacks on Labour. Most notably Bill 9: the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, delays wage arbitration for Alberta Union of Provincial Employees AUPE members and many more working Albertans, until after October 31, 2019. On July 24, members of the committee attended a rally against the proposed cut-backs and Bill 9. The rally was well attended with nearly 300 protesters in front of the Alberta Provincial Building at noon. Additional rallies were planned for Aug 19 and Oct 4th, both of which the members of LDAC were in attendance. Further to this, the AFL has developed a Fight back Strategy which includes a campaign to defend public services, a campaign to offer an alternative vision [other than the UCP] and a campaign to defend Unions and Labour Rights. More material, including digital ads, sharable, and events will be coming out during the fall sitting of the legislature and into the new year.
On November 2, the LDAC helped to sponsor a drop-in letter writing event in solidary of the austerity budget that was release by the UCP government on Oct 25th. The event was held in Lethbridge with members of the committee and other community allies in attendance. Dozens of letters were written to MLAs and the Premier demanding strong public services for all.
Federal Election: Planning for the federal election started at the LDAC Sept 18th meeting where we brainstormed ideas on how to reach our members and educate them on important election issues including Phoenix, bargaining, Pharmacare, and the protection of public services. Our actions included workplace plant-gates with material provided from the Regional Office. Material was disseminated through our locals and union bulletin boards were updated. Members from the LDAC were able to attend two all candidate forums and spoke at the microphone at both events and asking about Phoenix. Specifically, I asked our current Conservative MP, if re-elected would she help to secure a fair compensation package. She did promise to work with her party if they formed government to ensure PSAC members received fair damages for the Phoenix fiasco. This was easy for her to say, but at least it was a public statement in front of 200 individuals and I can now hold her to account when I lobby her at her office. Members the public still empathize with our phoenix situation and I gave away several buttons that said: I’m voting for Public Services, the environment, child care, and health care.
In addition to reaching out to our members, the LDAC identified an accessibility gap for the vulnerable members within Lethbridge (including homeless, indigenous, persons with mental illness and persons with disabilities) when it came to voting. Many of the individuals that fell within this populations did not have the tools with which they could exercise their right to vote. We partnered with community organizations Streets Alive, SweetGrass Youth Alliance, and the Sage Clan to help organize two information sessions, open to everyone in our community, in an attempt to empower individuals to vote.
Our first session was held on Oct 3rd at Streets Alive Mission. We provided a meal and information on where to vote, what ID to bring, how to apply for ID, and assistance with getting ID. We also prepared information about each parties platform, a variety of buttons that say “I pledge to Vote”; “My Vote Matters” , and computers set up to take the Vote Compass test. We also had sign up sheets for those were in need of a ride on E-Day. Our first event reached 35 individuals, most of which already had ID, but 15 signed up for rides on E-day.
Our second event was held on E-day in Galt Garden, a popular location for individuals who live at the shelter or on the street. We again provided a meal and informed individuals that today was voting day. If they had their ID we would identify their polling station and give them a ride to their respective poll in the van that we had rented. Some individuals did not have ID so members of the Area Council would vouch for them as their home polling station. According to Elections Canada, an individual can vouch for one person at their polling station, so long as they were on the list. We were able to vouch for six people to vote using this provision. Our second event reached 50 people and we were able to get 24 individuals to the polls who would have otherwise not voted.
Both events were appreciated by those in attendance and yielded engaging conversation of everyone’s right to vote and empower those who may have thought they did not have the tools to vote or that their vote didn’t matter. The event also helped to forge deeper relationships with other community agencies in Lethbridge who are looking out for Lethbridge’s most vulnerable. Also of note, voter turnout for the Lethbridge riding was up from 66% in 2015 to 72% in 2019.
In October we held our AGM. I re-elected President, Br. Ray Wilson was elected Vice President and Dave Pearson we re-elected Secretary/Treasurer. I look forward to serving as Area Council President for another year.
Should you have any questions about my report, please contact me directly at email@example.com or phone 403.393.2688.
Activities since last report:
May 24-26: PRC Face-to-Face Meetings, Winnipeg
May 25: Winnipeg General Strike Commemoration
June 4: Regular Meeting of the Lethbridge and Area Council
June 4: Regular Meeting of the Lethbridge Regional Women’s Committee
June 20-24: National Human Rights Committee Face-to-Face, Agriculture Union Conference
June 24-26: AFL Strategic Planning Session, Banff
July 7: AFL Fair Start BBQ – Lethbridge
July 3: Regular Meeting of the Lethbridge and District Labour Council
July 24: AUPE Rally against Bill 9 – Lethbridge
July 14: Regular Meeting of the Lethbridge and District Labour Council
Aug 14: Regular Meeting of the Lethbridge and District Labour Council
Aug 19: Conservative MP, Rachael Harder Pancake Breakfast
Aug 19: AUPE Rally against Bill 9 – Lethbridge
Aug 26: PSAC Area Council President’s Political Action Conference Call
Sept 2: Lethbridge Labour Day BBQ
Sept 4-6: Alberta Federation of Labour Executive and Council Meetings, Edmonton
Sept 6-9: Prairie Regional Women’s Conference, Regina SK
Sept 10: Participated in workplace UMC meetings
Sept 11: Regular Meeting of the Lethbridge and District Labour Council
Sept 16: Alberta Federation of Labour Political Action Committee Conference call
Sept 16: Finance Committee Conference Call
Sept 17: Agriculture Local 30048, General Membership meeting
Sept 18: 3rd Meeting of the Lethbridge and District Area Council
Sept 19: PRC Conference call
Sept 27: Lethbridge Climate Strike Rally, City Hall
Sept 30: Orange Shirt Day, workplace demonstration
Oct 1: Lethbridge and District Area Council AGM
Oct 1: Lethbridge Regional Women’s Committee meeting
Oct 3: Get Out the Vote Lethbridge – ID clinic & election information session #1
Oct 4: AUPE Rally against Bill 9 – Lethbridge
Oct 4: Sister’s in Spirit Lethbridge Vigil
Oct 10: Federal Election All Candidates Forum, Lethbridge AB
Oct 14: Solidary Action for Striking CLC Staff
Oct 15: Workplace plant-gate – Election information
Oct 16: Canadian Federation of University Women – Person’s Day Breakfast
Oct 18: Alberta Federation of Labour Political Action Committee Conference call
Oct 18: Take back the Night Lethbridge Rally
Oct 17: Participated in the Prairie Region Election Town hall
Oct 21: Get out the Vote Lethbridge – Election Day ID Clinic and transportation to the polls.
Oct 22: Lethbridge Regional Women’s Committee Conference call
Oct 23: PRC Finance Conference Call debrief about training sessions
Oct 30-31: PRC Finance Training and Strategic planning session, Calgary AB
Nov 2: Drop-in Letter Writing Event Solidarity against the budget
Nov 4: Film screening: nîpawistamâsowin – we will stand up, Lethbridge AB
Nov 5-6: Alberta Federation of Labour Executive and Council Meetings, Calgary
Nov 5: AFL’s Join the Resistance Town Hall, Calgary AB
Nov 6: CUPE Rally – Stop the Cuts, Calgary AB
Nov 13: Alberta Federation of Labour Political Action Committee Conference call
Nov 14: PRC Finance Committee Meeting, Regina
Nov 15-16: PRC Face-to-Face Meeting, Regina
Nov 27: Canadian Labour International Film Festival, Lethbridge
In solidarity –
PSAC Lethbridge and District Area Council President