The first quarter of 2021 passed by quickly with a big tentative agreement vote, contests, new campaigns, Pink Shirt Day, and continuing to navigate the pandemic and upcoming vaccine rollout. The second quarter of the year continued in much the same way.
The month kicked off with a Facebook Live event featuring Dr. Kyle Anderson, a UofS professor and PhD in biochemistry and microbiology. He met virtually with Barb Cape to answer your questions about COVID-19 and the vaccine. If you missed it, you can watch the replay here.
Early April also saw the launch of a new campaign, Better Call Paul. The intention was to let Health Minister Paul Merriman know how let down healthcare workers in the province felt by his vaccine rollout plan.
The provincial spending plan for the 2021 fiscal year was released and the Union found it lacking.
- pleas for multi-year funding from Community-Based Organizations were ignored
- there was no additional support was for our healthcare workers who were on the front lines of pandemic response
- the education sector received paltry increases that didn't keep pace with growing needs.
In April we celebrated Medical Laboratory Week with Sonora, Shannon, Anita, and Carla, Administrative Professionals Day with Mary, a Medical Office Assistant in Patient Registration. We also celebrated Linen Worker Appreciation week with stories from Nathan and Melanie.
Picking up where our virtual Q&A session left off, we featured an “Ask Dr. Kyle” series of posts over on Facebook.
In mid-April we shone a light on Canadian Blood Services discontinuing rural mobile collection units. This news came just months after CBS begging Saskatchewan residents for donations before the 2020 holiday season. An email campaign ran alongside our media release allowing donors the opportunity to share their concerns surrounding this cut to services.
On the heels of Medical Laboratory Week, we—along with CUPE and SGEU—asked the provincial government for more support and accountability for our lab system. In August 2020, the government promised to recruit 73 positions to the system to aid in the additional burden of processing COVID-19 tests. By the date of the news release (April 28), that promise remained unfulfilled.
We highlighted a combined effort to drop some “Respect Us, Protect Us, Pay Us” banners across the province. Multiple banners were spotted in Saskatoon, Swift Current, and in Moose Jaw. More on this slogan and the campaign coming in next week’s instalment of our Year in Review.
Mental Health Week and Occupational Health and Safety Week coincided this year. Both recognition weeks are incredibly important to SEIU-West. We’re dedicated to working for safer workplaces and better access to mental health support. We were also thrilled to announce that the NDP’s suicide prevention bill was finally passed.
There was a lot to celebrate in the month of May! We recognized Nursing Week, LPN Day, and Early Childhood Educator Appreciation Day. We shared Connie’s story for Continuing Care Assistant Day, and Brian and Jon’s stories for Biomedical/Clinical Engineering Week. We also recognized Public Works Week, Disability Service Professionals Week, and shared Shantel’s story for Paramedic Services Week and more. Keep your eyes on our Facebook page for contests in conjunction with these recognition days and weeks. And the Purple Works page on our website where we highlight more member stories.
We struggled with the news of the mass gravesite found in Kamloops, BC on the grounds of a former residential school. SEIU-West mourns with our members and country. We firmly believe that Canada cannot begin reconciliation and healing until the harm done has been acknowledged and accepted.
We started the month swinging by demanding more support for our healthcare workers as the SHA released their “recovery plan”. This plan included little concrete information and even less support for our healthcare workers as we worked to come out the other side of this pandemic.
Unit Support Workers and Unit Assistants, Indigenous Peoples Day, and Multiculturalism Day were all recognized this month. And June is also Filipino Heritage Month.
In addition to Filipino Heritage Month, June marks Kalayaan, the Independence Day Celebration of the Philippines. The celebration was highlighted by our Multicultural Mentorship Committee with this great post.
SEIU-West put out two calls for volunteers in June. First, spots opened up on our committees for the 2021-2023 term. If you want more information about the committees or how to get involved, visit our website.
Second, we asked for more Member Facilitators. If you’ve ever taken any of our educational courses, you’ve interacted with our fabulous facilitators. Periodically, we ask for members who would like to be added to our growing roster of educators. If you want to be involved, keep your eyes on the website and Facebook page.
That’s also where you can find information about upcoming education opportunities, like the round of Activist Training Camp we announced in June.
We’re always proud of our members speaking up and sharing their voice and we love to amplify that their message. We shared Martin Been’s Letter to the Editor (originally published in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix) on our website and Facebook page for just that reason. Martin wrote explains the staffing shortages and strain on healthcare in Saskatchewan existed before the pandemic.
We also shared Marte Olsen’s powerful Letter to the Editor (originally posted in the Regina Leader-Post and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix) in which she spoke out against discrimination and divisiveness and the need for societal change, to create a better world for future generations.
Wow! All that and we’re only halfway through the year. Did the second half of 2021 hold up to the first? Find out in part three of our Year in Review coming soon. And, if you missed part one, you can find it here.