Cape's Corner: Summer 2019

This summer, you’ll be seeing SEIU-West billboards prominently displayed across the province as we renew our focus on safety. Whether you work in the health, community-based organization (CBO), education, or within our private and allied sectors, we have heard firsthand too many of our members are trying to get the job done with too few staff.

At our May Convention, themed Together Strong Together Safe, delegates were able to talk about the need for safer workplaces. We urged members and guests to provide advice about what to do when faced with an unsafe work environment. Moving forward, we have introduced a member education session about occupational health and safety. There is a clear demand: we all want to improve safety for our patients, clients, residents, and students.

These billboards connect readily with the CBO campaign where we join with other unions (SGEU and CUPE) to highlight the need for stable and predictable multi-year funding in this sector. This is the purpose of the 'Sask People Who Care' campaign which urges members of the general public to sign an online petition in recognition of the valuable work done in this sector for residents and clients who are in most need. We encourage every one of our members to collect signatures on the paper petition over the summer and return them (with original signatures) to one of our offices in September so they can be submitted in the fall sitting of the Legislature.

Our Provincial Contract Action Team (ProCAT) will be coming out to facilities across the province to promote our on-line and billboard campaign. We ask SEIU-West health care providers to share the message 'Be Fair to Those Who Care' and engage the general public to support health care providers. As part of creating a safe health care system, the rates of pay must keep up with the cost of living – so that we can retain and recruit health care providers. Safe staffing is essential to keeping our patients, clients and residents safe.

Our members who work in the education sector have been faced with cuts to staffing in the classrooms and throughout the school system. Over the past few years, our provincial government has whipsawed the funding for this sector… but ultimately, leaving our schools and students in a deficit. Student enrollment continues to grow, but the staffing needed for kids who are new Canadians or who have special learning needs or need some extra support has stayed static or been reduced in school systems across the province. We believe that funding needs to be fully restored and further supplemented to create a safe, quality learning environment for everyone.

To amplify this message, we need your help. For the remaining months of the year, we are asking our members to tell us – in a short video (less than 10 seconds) –what you would do to make your workplace safer. Our goal is to raise awareness about the need for safety in Saskatchewan workplaces where injuries are among the highest in this country, and at the same time provide some solutions from the experts in the workplace – our members. If you are interested in being a part of this campaign, email actions@seiuwest.ca.

It’s really quite simple – end understaffing.

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