NBoD Report (May 31-June 3, 2011)


Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the National Board of Directors, submitted for the May 31-June 3, 2011 meeting. This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.


May 31 – June 3, 2011 This report covers the period from the last NBOD meeting.

Election Reflection

The recent federal election kept the Prairie Region busy throughout April, leading up to Election Day on May 2.

We identified five ridings that we wanted to make a difference in: Edmonton- Strathcona, Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar, Winnipeg North, Winnipeg South Centre, and Saint Boniface. We made a concerted effort to reach the members in those ridings. For the Prairie Region as a whole, we also stressed the importance of our members exercising their democratic right to vote, regardless of what riding they live in. We tried a couple of new and innovative approaches to reach out to the membership.

The Calgary Area Council hosted a series of “lunch ’n learn” workshops at members’ work places to promote participation in the federal election process. Members were encouraged to analyze the candidates and issues and to participate in the election process by voting, working on a campaign, or supporting a labour friendly candidate.

We hosted a “telephone town hall” from the Winnipeg Regional Office. We reached out to approximately 19,000 members across Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. More than 8,000 members answered the call live and 66 per cent of those who answered participated in the call for at least a portion of the one-hour conversation. We were able to leave a message for more then 7,000 members.

Shauna MacKinnon, Director of Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba, and I answered members’ questions regarding child care, pensions, job security, public services and more. The members were engaged and excited with this opportunity to connect with their Union and to learn about election issues in an interactive way without having to leave their homes. I was very pleased to have more then 25 members leave messages at the end of the call. This was an option that was offered to them so that they could share their opinion on our initiative.

We got “Our Vote Counts” buttons made and all of the area councils distributed them to Locals across the region, along with letters and the CLC brochures,informing members of the issues and encouraging them to vote. Winnipeg Area Council went one step further in their outreach by holding a phone bank over several evenings. They took this opportunity not only to talk about the federal election, but also to introduce themselves to members.

Regional Review

I had the opportunity to meet with most of the committees in the Prairies by having “all-committee” meetings. These meetings were a great opportunity to discuss mobilization and membership engagement, including strategies to reach more members and how we can use social media to assist us. We talked about the last ratification vote, annual planning, proper committee procedures, campaigns, current issues, and the federal election.

In May, we will be hosting our first-ever Regional Youth Conference in Edmonton. The conference will bring together more than 40 young PSAC members from across the Prairie Region with a goal of building a stronger union by encouraging and supporting young members. The conference should further help to engage young members and build on what had been achieved at the Young Workers in Action Course last November.

We are sponsoring four Sisters to attend the 2nd RebELLEs Pan-Canadian Young Feminist Gathering. For three days, young feminists will gather in Winnipeg to share experiences, stories and analysis. They will return to their communities and workplaces with a strong foundation for a young feminist movement in place.

Empowering Equality

The Calgary Human Rights Committee sponsored the Fairy Tales Queer Film Festival. The festival played a 45-second public service announcement from the PSAC Prairie Region before each and every film and members of the HRC volunteered during one of the shows.

In Winnipeg, the HRC held a workshop on bullying where a dynamic guest speaker presented to more than 40 members. Because of the success of the workshop, the HRC has decided to continue bringing in speakers on various topics to educate the PSAC membership and to increase the number of committee participants.

HRC members in Regina participated in local May Day events, while Edmonton and Winnipeg HRC members have been preparing for National Aboriginal Day and Pride events.

Area Activism

Tomato Project is a community initiative that the Lethbridge Area Council has committed to working on with the Agriculture Local 30048 at the Lethbridge Research Centre. They will be growing 90 patio-type tomato seedlings to donate to the Lethbridge Interfaith Food Bank. With the help of the Agriculture Local’s food bank garden, the goal is for recipients and their children to learn more about growing their own food.

Lobbying is something we are encouraging our members to do more of in this region, and Prince Albert AC and RWC have taken the lead on this. Members from both committees have met with their MPs to discuss pensions, affordable housing and child care issues.

The Calgary AC has drafted an ambitious plan for the next year that will include Labour Day BBQ activities, promotion and recruitment to the Area Council and a comprehensive bullying in the workplace campaign.

The Calgary AC remains committed and has been working closely with the Calgary District Labour Council and the Alberta Federation of Labour promoting participation in Labour Activities throughout the Calgary area such as the Day of Mourning event, May Day Rally and Alberta Federation of Labour Convention activities.

Edmonton AC invited PSAC pensions and disability officer Annette Marquis to speak at a pension information session for all members. They also held a meeting to educate members on Habitat for Humanity and had a guest speaker from H4H to explain the program and how people can get involved. The Area Council will once again participate in the Capital Ex Parade and plans are already under way.

With the help of the Social Justice Fund, the Winnipeg AC worked with the McGregor Community Care Site to plan activities for the youth who use the centre during spring break for a safe and educational group of activities.

Westman AC is supporting Habitat for Humanity in Brandon and invited one of the directors from H4H to a meeting to discuss the operations of H4H and how members can be involved.

Sisters in Solidarity

The Calgary RWC was a partner in the International Women’s Day Celebration again this year. The event was highly successful with over 250 Women and family attending. The theme of the celebration was “Celebrating 100 Years of Inspiration” and members distributed PSAC IWD postcards. The initial planning meeting for the next IWD has already been set for September 2011.

Members of the Edmonton RWC have attended several different events including the 6th Annual Memorial March for all the Missing and Murdered Women of Edmonton, an evening of social and cultural entertainment organized by AUPE’s Women’s Committee for International Women’s Day, and a potluck dinner, forum and discussion organized by an ad hoc committee for International Women’s Day. The RWC also organized a 1⁄2-day women’s workshop on pensions. Guest speaker Annette Marquis presented.

The Lethbridge Area Council supported International Women’s Day by sponsoring the coffee break at the IWD event held at the Galt Museum. Sister Lorna Selinger was a member of the organizing committee and I was honoured to be invited as one of the three keynote speakers.

Sisters from the Winnipeg RWC and several Locals attended the International Women’s Day event sponsored by the Manitoba Federation of Labour, Winnipeg Labour Council and Canadian Labour Congress. The day’s events included a pancake breakfast, two workshops: the F-word (feminism) and History of Women & Labour Movement, and the annual IWD march with community members.

The Winnipeg RWC is also gearing up for the 5th annual school supplies drive that will be held over the summer.

Looking Ahead

We are nearing the 5th Triennial Prairie Region Convention and have been busy with preparation. This year we will host over 330 delegates from across the Prairies in Winnipeg on June 10-12, 2011. Our resolution packages have been mailed to each of the delegates so that they can plan meetings to discuss and strategize.

We are also in the early stages of planning our Regional Health & Safety Conference, which will likely be held in Calgary in the fall.

Respectfully submitted,

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