Communication… it’s key to explaining yourself; being responsible for your actions; and working to do better for everyone. Whether you are a shop steward, the Premier of a province, or a union President, we all have a responsibility to communicate as effectively as possible. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with our members, shop stewards, staff, and even our Minister of Health and the message that keeps rising to the top is how we need to communicate better.
Our members have been earnest in their effort to communicate with their Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) about concerns with funding in the education sector; short staffing in the health care sector; a lack of accountability in the Community-Based Organization (CBO) sector… and always, bargaining! The public deserves quality services that their taxes pay for. And the people who provide those services deserve a decent wage… there’s nothing controversial about that.
But I don’t think that the politicians have been very forthright or honest in their responses. Recently, our Minister of Health said publicly – in the news – that funding in long-term care has been increased by 40%... since when?! Since the 1980’s? Let’s be frank, we haven’t felt a real increase in funding for public sector services for a very long time. It’s actually quite demoralizing that our Minister of Health makes this kind of public statement when those who provide hands-on care report unsafe staffing levels in long-term care on a chronic basis. Previously, our Minister of Finance has reported to media that the 3.5% cuts were off the bargaining table for all public sector workers… but who else did she tell?! Because there are plenty of bargaining tables where the cuts are
still a living proposal!
We have called for public audits in the CBO sector to ensure that the funding is actually reaching the front line for staff and clients… but the Minister of Social Services didn’t even respond… all we have heard are crickets! For a government that keeps talking about consulting, transparency, and accountability, it’s interesting that they have such a checkered record.
We should all be accountable – not just at election times. And we need to recognize that the key to building our workplace, our union, and our province is creating a space where more people can be heard; where we can answer questions with honesty, not political spin; and where we can make sure that we are actually lifting up the people of this province… not picking winners and losers.
Sometimes we’re moving so fast that we don’t take the time to communicate – to explain – to consult – to actively listen – effectively... and it’s frustrating! So maybe, the first step in changing our communications is to start telling the truth… we can do better.