PRC Report (Jan. 2011)


Report of the Regional Executive Vice-President, Prairies to the Prairie Region Council submitted for the January 2011 meeting. This report covers the period from the last PRC meeting.

Report of the Regional Executive Vice President – Prairies

to the Prairie Region Council
January 2011

After being approached by Treasury Board to engage in early exploratory talks on contracts that expire in 2011, PSAC agreed to enter into negotiations. The result was three tentative agreements that generated ratification vote meetings across the Canada throughout October and November. The members voted from coast to coast to coast and new collective agreements are in place.

I traveled across the Prairies to attend as many of the meetings as possible, speaking at approximately 100 of the more than 200 meetings held. I was fortunate to have an incredible team of bargaining unit members who also spoke at meetings; Sister Michele Coe (PA), Brother Blair Winger (SV) and Brother Steve Van Opstal (SV). Brother John Gordon and Sister Patty Ducharme were able to join us at ratification meetings in Calgary, Red Deer and Winnipeg during that time.

This period has also been an active one for our women’s committees. In September I attended the Prairies’ Regional Women’s Conference in Saskatoon, held under the theme “Putting Our Passion Into Action”. We had more than 70 delegates attend who participated in workshops to put their passion into action on the three issues including Women & Pensions, Child Care & Women and Mobilizing for Change.

The following month I attended the PSAC National Women’s Conference, held under the theme “Fighting Back, Moving Forward”. The conference allowed Sisters to develop analysis of the impact of federal government policies and cutbacks on women’s equality and human rights and aimed to increase PSAC Sisters’ involvement in the campaigns for federal pay equity, childcare, pensions and the defense of quality public services, as well as our involvement in coalitions working to defend and advance equality rights.

Coming up, I have been invited as the guest speaker at the Lethbridge International Women’s Day celebration on March 8, 2011, held under the theme “Making a Difference”. The celebration marks the 100th anniversary of the IWD.

The Racially Visible Conference Steering Committee has met to plan for the upcoming 2011 PSAC National Conference for Racially Visible Members, held under the theme “United, Empowered, Fearless: Ready for Action!” in Vancouver this April. The conference aims to empower and engage racialized members to take action and move the human rights agenda forward.

In November, we held the first Young Workers in Action course in Edmonton with 20 course participants from across the Prairie Region. I participated in the Union Conversations session where youth members were able to chat informally with myself, Brother Chad Kemery, Sister Veronique Allard, Brother Jeffrey Vallis and Sister Carm Chan. Participants drafted an action plan through their notes taken during discussions on the last day of the course. Plans are under way for the Prairies Youth Initiative – a youth conference in the spring of 2011.

I attended the EOC meeting at the end of November, at which we were privileged to have New Democrat LGBTT Critic Bill Siksay join us and speak to the Committee about his historic Private Member’s Bill, Bill C-389, which would add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act and amend the hate crimes and sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada. The Bill will progress to a third reading in the coming months.

We also have reason to celebrate in the Prairies, after a successful three-month campaign to secure workers’ rights at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg. We have been granted certification to represent all non-managerial museum employees. Next steps for the Local include choosing an executive, setting up bylaws and bargaining their first collective agreement.

Looking ahead, the coming months will be consumed with preparation for the 2011 Prairie Region Convention in Winnipeg. We look forward to hosting delegates from across the Prairies in Winnipeg on June 10-12, 2011.

In Solidarity,

Robyn Benson