Welcome back to part three of our Year in Review – 2021 series! Are you ready to see if the second half of the year kept up with the breakneck pace of the first?

July

Many people were struggling with how to respond to the recent discoveries of multiple graves on the grounds of former residential schools—some wondering whether it was appropriate to celebrate Canada Day. We released this statement stressing that Canada remains a work-in-progress, and that we all have a role in the work of reconciliation.

Janine Lazaro, member of the Political Action and Awareness Committee, reached out to her MP highlighting the need for a federal $15.00 per hour minimum wage, expanded public child care options, and more. Janine’s letter, and Brad Redekopp’s response, are available on our website.

We launched the #RespectUsProtectUsPayUs campaign in support of our hard-working health care workers. We asked for signatures to send the government a message: changes are needed to our healthcare system now!

The campaign also included billboards posted throughout the province. However, Directwest, a publicly-owned subsidiary of crown corporation SaskTel, refused to post our campaign on its billboards, campaign, deeming it “offensive” to their advertising guidelines. Directwest said this campaign was too “divisive”, in spite of the same images and messaging proceeding across the province with two other billboard companies. This story was highlighted by both CTV and Moose Jaw Today, sparking a conversation about censorship in the media.

We celebrated International Self-Care Day on July 24th with a contest! We asked members for their favourite low-to-no cost self-care activities and boy, did you come through! We compiled all your suggestions and the list lives on our website. It’s a great list to refer back to any time you’re feeling in need for a little recharge.

We also highlighted Kyla, a Continuing Care Assistant (CCA) in long-term care, and her Story from the Front Line. The story presented the realities our members are facing while working in healthcare during this pandemic. Her story showcased issues of PPE and cohorting, the loss of support from residents’ families due to restrictions, and hope for the coming months.  Martin too, shared his Story from the Front Line on the impact he feels watching the effects of the pandemic on visitors, patients and his coworkers.

 

August

On August 5, the Saskatchewan Ombudsman’s report on the COVID-19 outbreak at Parkside Extendicare was released. The report was heartbreaking, showing residents and staff were set up for failure by Extendicare Canada, the SHA, and the Ministry of Health. Our Media Release on the report with links to the full report, summary, and the timeline can be found here.

SEIU-West celebrated an organizing win in early August. We welcomed new members from Stonebridge Crossing in Saskatoon into the Purple Works family.

We recognized August 9 as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples for 2021. The theme was “Leaving No One Behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract”. For more information on the day, check out the United Nations’ website.

Nola’s Story from the Front Line went live in August. Nola told us of the struggles she’s faced as a CCA during the pandemic and her hopes for the #RespectUsProtectUsPayUs campaign in raising more awareness of the realities our frontline healthcare workers are experiencing during this crisis. We also heard Joey’s Story from the Front Line. Joey works in Protective Services as a Security Officer, and he touched base with us on how the pandemic has affected his job. Then we heard from Candace, who works in mental health and in the community as a CCA. Candace welcomes the Premier to walk a day in her shoes and then look her in the face and tell her she and everyone like her across Saskatchewan are not worth more.

August also saw the return of President’s Messages from Barb Cape. Watch the replay of her August 20th message on YouTube.

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day and saw 1,681 wooden crosses—one for every overdose death in Saskatchewan since 2010—placed on the grounds of the Legislature in Regina. The crosses were visual proof of the severity of the drug problem in our province. 2021 saw a record-high number of overdose deaths in Saskatchewan. For more information, visit Prairie Harm Reduction, Moms Stop the Harm, and International Overdose Awareness Day.

 

September

As restrictions lifted through the summer, September had us all staring at the very real approach of COVID-19’s fourth wave. And, once again, SEIU-West, and other healthcare provider Unions, implored the Saskatchewan government to step up and lead us through.

2021's Labour day was different from most years; pre-pandemic years had us gathered in our communities to celebrate the achievements of the Labour force with other Labour activists, but we did enjoy a Labour Trivia contest, where we talked about the achievements of Labour.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day and SEIU-West is dedicated to promoting mental health awareness and accessible mental health care and resources. We have resources on our website. If you, or others you know, are struggling, there are crisis services available across Saskatchewan.

Environmental Services Week was September 12-18. We celebrated Environmental Services Workers, housekeeping, janitorial, and custodial staff this week. We shared stories from Christine and Boni over at Purple Works.

This month we were shocked and disappointed with the threat of an emergency order from the government to redeploy thousands of healthcare workers if talks between the healthcare unions and the SHA broke down. This came right after decisions to reduce non-critical and elective services in order to expand surge capacity in the province. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix picked up the story.

Did you know that the Sasktchewan Federation of Labour (SFL) launched a mobile app in September? The purpose is to help educate youths and young workers about workplace safety and their rights as employees. The app is available for iPhone and Android, and you can read more about it on the SFL website.

In late September, SEIU-West held an All Committee Day for our member participants over Zoom. It was lovely to see everyone’s faces! If you want to be involved, find all information about SEIU-West’s committees on our website and sometimes there are vacancies so if you are interested in becoming a member of one of our committees, use our contact form to inquire how to apply.

September also brought the first observance of the newly designated National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. SEIU-West distributed orange Every Child Matters shirts in acknowledgement of the day and to show our dedication to doing the work for a better, brighter future together.  We discussed how our mandate connects with Reconciliation.

 

We’re nearly there, folks. Just one more quarter to go! Stay tuned for the final installment of our Year in Review-2021 series coming next week. And if you missed the first half of the year, they’re up on the website: January-March, April-June.

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