Over the course of 2017, hundreds of SEIU-West members reached out to government officials at various levels to share their experiences of the impact of health care funding cuts to their patients, residents, themselves, their families and their communities.
At the beginning of 2018, we relaunched the challenge to our members to reach out to their elected Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) by phone, email, or in person to talk about the impact of direct cuts to public sector workers’ compensation and/or funding cuts to the skilled professional services we provide.
In January, SEIU-West members met with the Minister of Health, Jim Reiter, and the Minister of Rural and Remote Health, Greg Ottenbreit, to identify the impact of these cuts on services and on health care workers.
Our new Premier, Scott Moe, has committed to increasing funding to the education system which faced serious cuts in last year’s budget. As part of a group of educational organizations, I joined administrators, directors, school board trustees, and unions in meeting with the new Minister of Education, Gordon Wyant, to set a new relationship and tone for our work going forward.
We have proposed an education roundtable to provide input, and be consulted, on changes and plans for this sector. Continued cuts to staff and programs within our education sector cannot stand; we place our province in a long-term skill deficit by not having the staff and services available now for our province’s future success. And SEIU-West commits to being part of this process.
SEIU-West welcomes the opportunity to build a new relationship with our government. We are the front line experts in our schools, hospitals, long-term care facilities, and community-based organizations, and can provide the knowledge, skills and expertise for improving and sustaining our public systems in our communities.
This isn’t just a bargaining issue; as citizens, it’s important that we are all involved in how our province, towns, cities and communities are governed. As front line workers, we are incredible advocates for the people we serve, but we can’t provide those services to the standards that we expect, if we are running to provide care; short-staffed; or working without proper equipment.
Adequate staffing levels in all public services should be a priority – not just for us, but for our employers, governments, and the people of Saskatchewan. We continue to be fully invested in our work and our province – we need our governments to invest fully in these services… and in us.