MFL Executive Council Report (Mar. 2013)

Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council submitted for the March 11-12, 2013 meeting. This report covers the period from the last MFL meeting.

Marianne Hladun, Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairie Region
Report to the Manitoba Federation of Labour Executive Council, March 2013

On March 1, Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty told reporters to expect more public service cuts in the next federal budget, which could be released March 19, 2013.

In the 2012 federal budget, the Conservatives cut 19,200 jobs. That number didn’t include term workers whose contracts ended March 31, the 6,300 jobs cuts from previous operational reviews, the 9,700 positions lost because of the 2010 departmental budget freeze, the estimated 37,000 job losses stemming from cuts to organizations like the CBC, and the tens of thousands of jobs lost due to lost revenue for small and medium sized businesses.

The looming budget concerns are compounded by the rumoured Conservative private member’s bill to alter or eliminate the Rand Formula. We’re in the for the fight of our lives leading up to the 2015 federal election, and I hope that PSAC members can count on the support of our brothers and sisters within the labour movement, just as you can all count on the support of PSAC.

As part of our preparation for the upcoming election and ongoing fightback, we’re sending three Prairies members to attend the CLC Political Action Conference in Toronto, March 22-24, 2013. This will be the CLC’s largest conference ever and will expose activists to tactics and strategies to aid their political action work in their communities and support the work of the union.

In addition to this conference, we will host the PSAC Regional Women’s Conference in Banff May 3-5, 2013 under the theme “Telling Our Stories”. The last Regional Women’s Conference brought 72 sisters together in Saskatoon to discuss women’s issues and explore the role of women in defending public services. The 2013 PSAC National Health and Safety Conference will be held April 12 to 14, 2013 at the Sheraton Hotel in Montréal under the theme “Mental Health at Work – We Are All Affected.”

PSAC members in Manitoba and across the Prairies have been active in the Idle No More Movement. To help keep the momentum going, PSAC has developed Idle No More buttons to distribute throughout the Prairie Region. William Singer III, a First Nations artist and activist who has been instrumental to the movement in Lethbridge and surrounding areas, devised the button’s original artwork. The buttons are meant for community groups and allies involved in the movement.

Several PSAC units in Manitoba are currently at in bargaining, including research assistants and student assistants employed at Brandon University (PSAC Local 55601), research assistants, research associates, teaching assistants, lab demonstrators, markers and tutors at University of Winnipeg (PSAC Local 55600), and employees, ranging from employment counselors to childcare workers and teachers, at Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development (PSAC Local 55602).

We have been holding community town hall meetings around the Don’t Sell Our Hot Springs campaign to give community members an opportunity to share their thoughts about the privatization of one of Canada’s most valuable natural treasures. Passionate residents from Jasper and surrounding areas gathered on January 28, while citizens of Radium Hot Springs gathered on February 29, to voice their concerns regarding the privatization of the Canadian Rockies Hot Springs.

The PSAC Prairie Region is also a partner in the campaign to create a mandatory registry of public buildings containing asbestos in Saskatchewan, a campaign lead by the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (SADAO). As reported in the Brandon Sun and other newspapers across the country last week, the private member’s bill dubbed “Howard’s Law” will be voted on in the coming weeks. If this passes in Saskatchewan, advocacy groups can pursue similar legislation in provinces across the country and talk to government officials about the importance of asbestos awareness.

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

Respectfully submitted,

Marianne Hladun,
Regional Executive Vice-President
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Prairies