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Media Release: Gross Mismanagement, Not Just COVID-19, is Killing Saskatchewan’s Health Care System

Saskatchewan – SEIU-West members and leaders were stunned to find out that there will be no more patient transfers happening from Saskatchewan’s collapsed health care system. We are appalled at the complete failure of the provincial government’s management of the COVID19 crisis and demanding the politically-motivated decision-making end immediately.

“Patients in serious need of lifesaving care are waiting in peril because of the never-ending, politically motivated too little/too late actions of Premier Scott Moe and his government,” says SEIU-West President Barb Cape. “This government has abdicated its responsibilities by relying on non-medical experts to run the response to this fourth wave – it’s hard to believe I have to say this, but it’s time Moe and the politicians get out of the way and let medical and public health professionals try to salvage this disaster.”

“Our Premier, even with the benefit of being able to watch management responses in other healthy and safe provinces, has blown every opportunity he’s had to get ahead of each COVID wave by putting his politics ahead of human life,” Cape adds. “We all saw this coming. We’re not the only ones who have been raising alarm bells and this government is simply not listening or taking advice, or help, from anyone, including their blatant contradictions of Saskatchewan’s CMHO, who wept yesterday over the lack of humanity.”

Sask Party mismanagement of the pandemic has been political, deliberate and unapologetic since day one, with Scott Moe and his Health Ministers squandering every opportunity they’ve had to make this better. The constant deflection of responsibility, pointing fingers elsewhere, blaming the feds has to stop.

“The shocking audacity to pursue options in America, as opposed to taking the offered help from the federal government, resulting in delayed relief in Saskatchewan, was bad enough,” continues Cape. “Today, Saskatchewan’s health and long-term care environment is dangerously unsafe for patients and ALL health care workers, including their non-medical teammates.”

SEIU-West members are tired, frustrated and mad. That’s why they will be calling the Premier and the Minister of Health today to tell them to get out of the way and let the experts in the health care system take the lead.

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. SEIU-West members, like all health care and essential workers across Saskatchewan, have been providing hands-on care and in-person services since the very start of the pandemic, enduring extraordinary personal mental, physical and financial hurdles including the absence of and/or insufficient personal protective equipment, inconsistent application of protocols, isolation and lack of mental health supports, short-staffing levels and unfair, arbitrary distribution of Donna Harpauer’s temporary wage supplement. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members

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For more information, contact:

Tammy Nicklas

Project Coordinator

306-652-1011 ext. 2225

For a downloadable PDF, please click here.

Media Release: Making health care workers scapegoats no way to manage COVID-19 pandemic

For Immediate Release

September 15, 2021

Making health care workers scapegoats no way to manage COVID-19 pandemic

Three unions representing health care providers in Saskatchewan – SGEU, CUPE and SEIU-West – are angry and disappointed by the Sask Party government’s decision to impose an emergency order that will allow it to redeploy thousands of health care workers from their normal jobs.

The government threatened publicly on September 10 that it would issue an emergency order on September 13 if talks with the unions, which commenced on September 9, didn’t result in an agreement to allow for employee redeployment. Instead, government advised it would impose a previously negotiated Letter of Understanding (LOU), which expired in July, between the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) and a number of unions representing health care workers. SHA representatives and health care provider unions had just concluded a negotiation session Monday afternoon when the government issued the emergency order.

“For months, health providers and their unions have been calling on the government to take action to stop the rapidly rising cases of COVID-19 that are overwhelming the health care system,” said Sandra Seitz, CUPE 5430 President. “Instead, the government ‘ignored the science’ and passively watched this latest COVID crisis unfold. Now, after progress was made in negotiations with the SHA, we are disappointed and discouraged to see the government take such a heavy-handed approach with health care workers.”

The previous LOU enabled the SHA to move thousands of workers between different jobs to meet the needs of Saskatchewan’s pandemic response. That LOU expired earlier this year when the province lifted the public health order and removed all pandemic restrictions and measures. Since that time, vaccination rates have stalled, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased to record levels, and health care workers of all types have faced unprecedented workloads with many staff suffering burnout and chronic fatigue. Negotiations for a new LOU would have provided labour mobility while proactively addressing the issues health care workers endure in their provision of care.

"It’s unacceptable for the premier to refuse to enact even the most basic, common-sense measures like indoor masking for the general public,” said Tracey Sauer, SGEU President. “Yet he's more than willing to demand additional sacrifices from health care workers who have already gone above and beyond during extreme conditions over the past 18 months."

Last week, the government announced a reduction in non-critical or elective services in order to expand surge capacity in the health system. It also announced plans to further privatize a number of health services by outsourcing contact tracing and testing as well as thousands of MRIs to private, for-profit companies to help alleviate strains on the system.

At a time when the premier claims the health care system is in such deep crisis that he must circumvent health care workers’ basic rights and the foundations of our public health system, Mr. Moe has refused to consider re-introducing a low-cost, easily implemented mask mandate.

This despite the fact that the media has reported that the government’s own research shows a mask mandate could reduce cases by as much as 50 per cent.

“Instead of providing effective leadership to get us through the fourth wave of the pandemic, it’s clear the premier is blaming and threatening health care providers for the pressures in the health care system caused by his government’s inaction,” said Neil Colmin, SEIU-West Vice-President. “The premier and his health minister have expressed gratitude to health care workers in the past and have referred to them as heroes, but these recent actions to force health care workers back into unhealthy and unsafe workplace conditions speak louder than words. This is not how a government should treat its heroes.”

SGEU, CUPE and SEIU-West represent over 30,000 health care providers working in acute care, home care, public health and long-term care across the province.


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For more information, please contact:

Carolyn Rebeyka
Communications Officer, SGEU
Phone: 306-519-2903

Christine Miller
Communications, SEIU-West
Phone: 306-477-8733

Tannara Yelland
Communications Representative, CUPE
Phone: 647-459-0729

Click here to download a PDF of this release.

Media Release: Hey Moe! Respect Us Protect Us Pay Us – Campaign Launch

Hey Moe! Respect Us Protect Us Pay Us – Campaign Launch

(Saskatchewan, Canada) – Today SEIU-West proudly formally launches its newest summer-activism campaign: Hey Moe! #RespectUsProtectUsPayUs.

“As Premier Scott Moe continues to push Saskatchewan to ‘the way it should be,’ he and his government need to remember who bore the brunt of this pandemic and helped get the province to this point – front line essential workers,” says SEIU-West President Cape. “There has been extensive damage done to our public service workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that needs to be repaired.”

Accompanied by a digital and mass email campaign, billboards across Saskatchewan and other multimedia outlets, SEIU-West’s HeyMoe.ca campaign is about telling Scott Moe and his Cabinet that there is an urgent need to repair and invest in public services. Billboards across Saskatchewan are running these messages… except for Directwest billboards, owned by Scott Moe’s government, which refused to run the message, declaring it “divisive”.

There is some controversy from one advertiser about our campaign,” explains Cape. “How, exactly, does a simple request for respect, protection and fair wages for the thousands of essential workers serving Saskatchewan’s front line today offend this government-owned company’s guidelines?”

SEIU-West members, like all essential front line workers across Saskatchewan, have been providing hands-on care and in-person services since the very start of the pandemic, enduring extraordinary personal, mental, physical and financial hurdles including the absence of and/or insufficient personal protective equipment; inconsistent application of protocols; isolation and lack of mental health supports; insufficient staffing levels; and unfair, arbitrary distribution of the Government of Canada’s temporary wage supplement.

COVID-19 has gravely injured a public service that was broken prior to the pandemic’s arrival – now it needs time, money and leadership to heal.

Cape adds “We are asking everyone in Saskatchewan who supported and applauded essential workers as heroes, to please sign onto the letter at HeyMoe.ca and send a message to Premier Moe that we need to act now by investing significant funding into our public services.”

The HeyMoe.ca campaign’s hashtag, #RespectUsProtectUsPayUs, demands Saskatchewan front line workers be:

  • Respected by hiring more staff so workers are not running to provide care and services to the vulnerable;
  • Protected by investing in mental health assistance, personal protective equipment, and the resources required to ensure the workplace is truly safe;
  • Paid fairly for their jobs, so Saskatchewan’s public services can recruit and retain the qualified and professional people to provide the services we all rely on daily.

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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To download and print a PDF copy of this release please click here.

For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

Read President Barb Cape's July 9, 2021 letter to Directwest CEO

Read Directwest CEO's July 12, 2021 reply by clicking here

Read President Barb Cape's July 16, 2021 followup letter to Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations and Responsible for Sasktel, by clicking here.

Media Release: Health Provider Unions Join Forces To Celebrate Licensed Practical Nurses During Nursing Week

May 13, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(SASKATCHEWAN) As Saskatchewan celebrates National Nursing Week, health care provider unions are urging the Saskatchewan government to remember and recognize one key component of the nursing team that is often overlooked – Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs).

“In Saskatchewan, LPNs are front line care nurses that are responsible for managing patient care plans in collaboration with registered nurses and doctors,” said Tracey Sauer, SGEU president. “They perform much more than basic patient care, and are often specialized in critical areas, such as hemodialysis care, peri-operative care and advanced orthopedics. Many LPNs also received additional training and have been an integral part of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.”

There are approximately 3,400 LPNs working in long-term, acute and home care across Saskatchewan. Each one of them has benefitted from higher learning and is certified by the Saskatchewan Association of Licensed Practical Nurses (SALPN), under a scope of practice set up in the LPN Act.

“Despite training and regulation, many LPNs are not able to work to their full scope of practice because of employer policies limiting the role of LPNs,” said Sandra Seitz, CUPE 5430 president. “This means there are dedicated health care professionals who are unable to use all their skills in providing patient care. This is a concern every year, but especially in a pandemic that has seen resources across the health care system stretched thin.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been greater public appreciation of the work done by nurses and all health care workers, but LPNs are often not acknowledged for their contributions.

“Health care providers who are working through the pandemic are rightfully being seen as heroes – but that recognition needs to extend to every member of the health care team,” said Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West. “This Nursing Week, we call on the government and the employer to acknowledge LPNs and work on a strategy to bring all members of the health care team to their full scope of practice.”

Together, SGEU, SEIU-West and CUPE represent approximately 30,000 health care providers working in acute care, home care and long-term care across Saskatchewan.

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To download a printable PDF copy of this release please click here.

For more information, please contact:
Carolyn Rebeyka
Communications Officer, SGEU
Phone: 306-519-2903

Christine Miller
Communications, SEIU-West
Phone: 306-477-8733

Tria Donaldson
Communications Representative, CUPE
Phone: 306-531-6247

Media Release: Health Provider Unions call on government for transparency, accountability & support for provincial lab system

For Immediate Release - April 28, 2021

(Saskatchewan) SGEU, SEIU-West and CUPE – three Saskatchewan unions representing health care providers – are reminding Premier Scott Moe and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) about their unfulfilled promise made in August 2020 to recruit 73 positions in the provincial lab system for added capacity to assist with the ongoing strains of COVID.

Media Release: Provincial Budget Ignores Realities of COVID

Provincial Budget Ignores Realities of COVID

April 8, 2021 (Regina, SK) – Despite what we hear in the media about the provincial government’s spending plan for this fiscal year, it’s all too obvious that the priorities in this budget do not coincide with any of the social programs or ministries hardest hit by COVID-19.

“We have noted that the lowest budgetary increases were to K-12 education, followed by the health sector at 5-6%. On the flip side, there is an over 500% increase to the Ministry of Trade and Export. This is telling when we look at our provincial priorities over the last year,” says Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West.

“Specifically, this budget provides no comfort to our members who work in Community-Based Organizations (CBO),” adds Cape. “For the last 13 years, our members who work in the CBO sector have campaigned vigorously for multi-year funding. This government has ignored the ongoing hardships that they face due to a lack of stability.”

SEIU-West CBO members provide valuable client-facing front line care and services in group homes, crisis response, addiction recovery facilities and day care centres and regularly face the challenge of provincial funding running out.

“On the failed promise of hiring 300 Continuing Care Assistants (CCAs), a mere 5% increase to the CCA positions in long-term care was insufficient at best; now in this budget reveals they will not keep their commitment – rather we see a ‘down payment’ of only 100, potentially, during this fiscal year,” continues Cape. “This is unconscionable as the need is so very pronounced; a fact made so abundantly clear during our prior year of long-term care tragedies during a global pandemic.

“The additional strain on our health care system due to the onslaught of sickness and death during COVID has not been addressed in this budget. We are not certain how our members in the health sector can place any trust in our government. We question how the $56 million allocated to the Temporary Wage Supplement in 2020-21 was spent as there is no transparency here. We know that it was not offered equitably to all front line essential workers in health care.”

The Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement has not been offered to health care providers who work in hospitals and only included those who work in home care during the second round of payments.

“Finally, our members in education support continue to suffer from the previous funding cuts in this sector; an increase of 2.3% does not even measure inflation. COVID has presented a need for added student supports; this funding demonstrates that our provincial government are unwilling to fund these supports. It’s a reckless dismissal of education quality concerns voiced by students, parents and those who work in the sector and will haunt our province for years to come.”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

To print a downloadable version of this release, please click here. 

Joint Media Release: CBOs to Sask Party - Is This Year Our Lucky 13?

 

CBOs to Sask Party: Is this year our Lucky 13?

Unions call for multi-year funding for CBOs in provincial budget

 

For Immediate Release

 

March 30, 2021, REGINA – In a letter sent today to Finance Minister Donna Harpauer, CUPE, SEIU-West, and SGEU are asking that next week’s provincial budget include commitments to multi-year funding for community-based organizations.

The letter, titled “CBOs to Sask Party: Is this year our Lucky 13?” points out that thirteen years ago, Harpauer – then the Minister of Social Services – held a consultation with CBOs to identify challenges in the sector and hear ideas on how the government might address them.

At that time, CBOs, unions and workers told the Sask Party that single-year funding was one of their biggest challenges to providing quality services in the community, and proposed a move to a multi-year funding model.

Thirteen years later, CBOs are still waiting for an answer – and in the meantime, workers and the vulnerable people they serve are left struggling needlessly. As the letter notes, “Getting one year of funding at a time makes it impossible to provide stable, reliable services to clients. Organizations never know from one year to the next if they’ll be able to keep their doors open to provide the meaningful services that make our communities stronger.”

With the provincial budget set to be released on April 6th, unions representing CBO workers are asking: will this be the year the Finance Minister steps up and gives CBOs the multi-year funding they deserve?

You can download and print a copy of the letter to Harpauer by clicking here.

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For media inquiries please contact:

Amy Huziak, SGEU
306-530-5683

Tammy Robert, SEIU-West
306-652-1011 x 2225

Nathan Markwart, CUPE Saskatchewan
306-537-9426

 

Media Release: Health Care Workers and COVID Vaccination - What Moe Doesn’t Know

 

Health Care Workers and COVID Vaccination: What Moe Doesn’t Know

March 24, 2021

Saskatoon, Sask – SEIU-West members are shocked and angered by Premier Scott Moe’s misleading claims about the ability and willingness of health care workers (HCWs) to receive a COVID vaccination. 

During a March 23 news conference Moe claimed that 57% of HCWs who were eligible under Phase 1 had taken the vaccine, but that he wished more would do so.

“Let’s set the record straight,” says Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West. “The fact is that only 60% of our 47,000 Saskatchewan health care workers have been offered the vaccine in Phase 1. If all health care providers in all areas of the health care system had been offered a vaccine in Phase 1 there would be higher percentages.”

“There have been repeated requests from SEIU-West and Saskatchewan Health Authority managers to expand the priority list to include screening staff; lab staff; and home care staff. Premier Moe has ignored health care providers in home care and in hospitals since the beginning of this pandemic.”

While vaccines for Long-Term Care staff and residents have been at the forefront, hospital workers who work in patient registration, housekeeping, labs, security, screening, and even people working in vaccine clinics have been left out of the plan.

“We’ve been saying from the beginning of the rollout that all health care providers should be offered the vaccine in Phase 1,” continues Cape. “And this position is supported by the recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI).”

SEIU-West members have been engaged in a campaign to gain public support for all health care workers to be included in Phase 1 of the vaccine roll out.

“The fact that people who are interacting with the public in their homes or in health care facilities and providing care to both COVID and non-COVID patients on a regular basis have not been offered the vaccine is abhorrent and ignores guidelines and advice from the experts,” adds Cape. “The clear lack of respect for the health and well-being of front line health care workers is despicable and flies in the face of their ‘essential worker’ status.”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are united by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

Click here to download this media release as a PDF.

 

 

Media Release: Relaxed Rules Disrespectful of Health Care Workers

Relaxed Rules Disrespectful of Health Care Providers

March 9, 2021

Saskatoon, Sask – On the heels of Premier Scott Moe’s announcement that public health restrictions will be relaxed, SEIU-West members and leaders are concerned that this decision is premature and guided by politics rather than science or the needs of our health care system.

“It’s too soon to let our guard down like this,” says Barb Cape, President of SEIU-West. “The signs that the second wave is subsiding aren’t strong enough to justify relaxing restrictions. With the rise of the variants and lower testing numbers, we need to keep our public health restrictions in place for just a little longer to see if our efforts are really working.”

Two of Saskatchewan’s key health system leaders, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab and Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone, both expressed concern about the impending risk of a third wave of hospitalizations, especially among younger people and those unvaccinated.

“Ignoring the advice of two of your top advisors doesn’t seem like a sound way to go about protecting the people you were elected to serve,” adds Cape. “There are still a lot of unknowns about the variants and how quickly vaccines will be put into people’s arms.”

Experts agree that caution is key for the next 8 to 12 weeks based on the experience of jurisdictions in Europe noting that there is still potential that another wave would overwhelm our health care system.

“With the recent warmer weather, we’re already seeing a bit of a ‘spring fever’ effect and people are itching to push the envelope. We understand,” continues Cape. “But loosening Saskatchewan restrictions now will encourage folks to take risks… and in a couple of weeks, the heat will be back on again in our ICUs and acute care units. Let’s remember the restrictions in our province remain the most moderate in the country.”

Though Saskatchewan’s rate of COVID hospitalizations has fallen to levels not seen since Christmas, they are still the highest per capita in Canada, and the number of COVID patients in our ICUs remains high.

“Our acute care members have spent a year keeping our health care system running throughout this pandemic,” adds Cape. “And we still have 40% of the health care team who haven’t received their first dose of vaccine. A decision to relax restrictions will lead to a rise in cases and another crisis in our health care system.”

Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) represents over 13,000 people across Saskatchewan. They include people who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Visit PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about SEIU-West members.

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For more information, contact:

Christine Miller

Communications

306-477-8733

Click here for a downloadable PDF of this release.

Media Release: Stronger Together at Elmwood Group Homes

Stronger Together at Elmwood Group Homes

March 2, 2021 For Immediate Release

(Saskatoon, SK)– Members of SEIU-West who work at Elmwood Group Homes in Saskatoon have voted strongly in favour of accepting the tentative agreement reached with the Employer. 

“This group of workers demonstrate strong team building every day.  This, combined with a sense of confidence in their bargaining team, has created a collaborative, respectful bargaining environment where the concerns of both the employer and union are appreciated,” said President of SEIU-West, Barbara Cape. 

“It is reasonable to expect that retention and recruitment challenges need to be addressed for the benefit of the residents.  Our members were pleased to see a willingness on the part of the employer to take such positive steps as retroactive wage increases.  It helps when front line workers feel valued,” adds Cape.

The term of the new collective agreement will be from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2023, with general wage increases of 1% effective April 1, 2019;  3% effective April 1, 2020 and 1% effective April 1, 2021.  Together with retroactive pay, there are an added number of provisions have been improved upon to manage cost of living issues; for example, there are improvements to both travel allowance and shift differentials.

SEIU-West represents more than 13,000 working people in the province of Saskatchewan. They include members who work in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors. They are joined by one colour – purple – and one union – SEIU-West. Purple works in our communities! Visit www.PurpleWorks.ca to find out more about the members of SEIU-West.

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For more information, contact:

Tammy Robert Coordinator
Phone: 306-652-1011 ext. 2225

Click here to download a PDF of this release. 

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