MFL Executive Council Report (Apr. 2012)


Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council submitted for the April 23-24, 2012 meeting. This report covers the period from the last MFL meeting.

Robyn Benson, Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairie Region
Report to the Manitoba Federation of Labour, April 2012

It is a very dark time for PSAC members across the country, and Canadians who rely on the public services our members provide.

In the past few weeks, 7,302 PSAC members received notices from their departments advising them that they could lose their jobs, including 1,043 in the Prairies. In some cases, members were advised that the section or organization that they are working for is shutting its doors completely.

The budget proved this government’s twisted intent to cut services and eradicate jobs. But the speed and severity of the announcements is appalling, particularly since they happened away from the parliamentary spotlight and before the enabling legislation has been introduced, let alone passed.

Unfortunately, because this government has been so secretive, we still don’t know exactly where the cuts will happen or how it will affect us in the Prairies. But whether or not the majority of the cuts will be in the National Capital Region as they’ve indicated, I believe Canadians will feel the cuts from coast to coast to coast.

PSAC members and affiliates are strategizing on how they can work together to take action and fight back against the destruction of quality public services in Canada. Slashing public services will devastate key social, environmental and cultural services that Canadians rely on. We need a better way forward – a third choice that protects our economy and invests in the strong public services Canadians need.

Planning is well underway to hold a substantial rally in Ottawa to coincide with May Day and the 16th PSAC Triennial Convention. We are redoubling our efforts to get as many members out as we possibly can, and to let Canadians know that the price they will pay for public sector job cuts is simply too high.

PSAC members also took action leading up to the federal budget with PSAC’s National Day of Action on March 1. The event was a huge success with hundreds of members from worksites all over the Prairie Region, and across the country, standing together in solidarity over the noon hour. Members wore a sticker, waved a flag, or put on a black armband, and collectively rallied together to take a stand against the damaging austerity agenda of this government.

Finally, preparation is underway for the PSAC Prairies Regional Health & Safety Conference, and an important issue we are focusing on this year is asbestos poisoning. Many of our federal public service employees work in buildings that may contain asbestos and they don’t even know it. Howard Willem, long-time PSAC member and activist, was diagnosed with with mesothelioma (an asbestos related cancer of the lungs) and is leading the fight for safe workplaces and the banning of asbestos exportation in Canada.

We must work together to inform our respective members of the potential hazards in their workplaces and encourage OH&S committees and reps to monitor what is being done to control this deadly carcinogen.

For more information on this, and anything else mentioned in this report, please visit the PSAC Prairie Region website.

In Solidarity,

Robyn Benson
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies