PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Virtual Town Hall Follow Up Part Two

I want to continue to share the questions from our recent virtual town hall meetings. And as I do that, I want to point out an interesting piece of information: these questions are focused on the health care sector, but our education sector is being pressured to accept these cuts as well.

Think about this: the provincial government cut tens of millions of dollars from the education sector budget and is looking to find these savings by eliminating the positions of front line Education Assistants, bus drivers, maintenance and custodial staff, cafeteria staff and Administrative assistants. These are the very people who, through their actions, help teach our children strong values, fairness and achievement! Eliminating essential positions in any sector is a short sighted response and will ultimately defeat our ability to attract people to our province.

I was at a recent rally in front of Warren Michelson’s office (Moose Jaw Sask Party) protesting the cuts to the education sector with CUPE members and his response to the message to ‘reverse the cuts in the education sector’ was to claim that, while it was a tough budget, it was done so that future generations weren’t saddled with debt. We already know that argument is so full of holes even the Sask Party no longer runs the Brad Wall “Tim Horton’s lineup” ad. We all realize that the reversal of corporate taxes breaks could have assisted with that; the proper stewardship of our finances and resources could have assisted with that; even some oversight on Bill Boyd’s activities could have assisted with that… but instead, this government has determined to create a head tax on front line education workers (and all public sector workers) to shoulder a debt that we had no part in creating!

I am outraged at the sacrifices we are all being asked to make, while politicians willfully ignore the impact of the decisions they make.

Now, onto the next series of questions from the virtual town hall: (these are continued from the Oct 13 post)

4. How much do the increments affect part-time people? – Helen, Humboldt.

In SAHO’s proposal regarding the two lower pay bands, they indicated that it wouldn’t affect current staff, but would only affect those new staff hired after the Collective Agreement is signed… if it was agreed to.

5. How much does the government want employees to pay into the benefit plan? – Kara, Moose Jaw.

What is being proposed is 25% of benefit contributions would be paid by individual employees. Now the specific amount is different for each person, as our collective agreement sets out that funding for the Extended Health and Dental Plan is set at 3.1% of payroll. But further to this, think about it this way: we negotiated that percentage for EHD in previous years; we gave up other proposals, and monetary increases in past rounds of bargaining in order to get (and keep) this funding amount…so we’ve already paid for this EHD funding… I don’t think we should have to pay for it again via a co-pay of 25% of benefit contributions!

6. If the date goes by and we haven’t settled can the government impose their will with regard to cutbacks, etc? – Terry, Moose Jaw.

The Sask Employment Act (SEA) sets out that an employer can issue a last offer to a union, which would trigger a vote of the membership on that final offer. If it’s not an offer that we think is good, your SEIU-West bargaining committee would likely recommend against it. But you would still have a vote – and be able to decide. While other provincial governments have attempted to legislate collective agreement terms, most of these laws are challenged in the courts as violating the unions right to collective bargaining. To date, no provincial government has successfully legislated roll back terms for a collective agreement.

7. If they’re going to have smaller health division, the southeast corner is going to be shafted because they already are. It doesn’t make any sense. It didn’t work before, why will it now? I don’t feel we should be paying for MR. Wall’s mistake. – Kathy, Langham.

Well, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) will be a province-wide health region, essentially. (This is the same model that Alberta and Nova Scotia went to). There will be ‘integrated service areas’ that outline general service areas where primary care teams will operate as outlined in the map. 

I think we need to be aware that local, rural voices are being severely scaled back on their input into the direction of the SHA. With the integrated service areas, there may be some local working groups…but this has not been finalized. SEIU-West has reached out to towns and rural municipalities across the province to raise our concerns about the provision of funding and local health care services and make sure they are aware of future changes to the health system.

Thanks for your interest in these updates and the huge importance for all of us to support public sector workers – and workers in general – who are paying a huge price for these changes to funding, governance, and service provision. I’m proud of the engagement that our members have shown by reaching out to our elected MLAs…but the message is still the same, we need each of you to take the time to make one phone call, write one email, or better yet, set up a meeting with your MLA to talk about your job and why it’s important to our community and what a negative impact a -3.5% cut would have.

Together, let’s keep our message strong – NO cuts – NO rollbacks – PAY US what we are worth – TREAT US with respect! We need to step up the pressure and hold our politicians accountable for the decisions they make…and they made the decision to put this in front of the bargaining table.

Don’t forget to check in for the October 25 rally at the Legislature to Reverse the Cuts to public services… we need all of you there! There will be a free bus ride in it for you!

In Solidarity,
Barbara Cape
President, SEIU-West

President’s Message: Meet Your SAHO/Extendicare Bargaining Team!

October 20, 2016

Earlier this year, notifications and applications were posted on www.seiuwest.ca for the SAHO/Extendicare Bargaining Conference and Bargaining Committee. On October 2-3, 2016, roughly 110+ SEIU-West health care members engaged in a highly productive and informative two days. At the Conference, we were also pleased to announce who will make up our SAHO and Extendicare Bargaining Committee teams – and I’m happy to share this information with you now:

  • Celeste Dixon – Extendicare Sunset
  • Tanya Ziffle – Extendicare Elmview
  • Lynette Pinfold – Extendicare Moose Jaw
  • Teresa Roux – Extendicare Preston
  • Rick Brown – SHR
  • Simone Corriveau – SHR
  • Colleen Denniss – HHR
  • Brenda Berry – FHHR
  • Donna Gallant – FHHR
  • Judy Denniss – SHR
  • Kim Wyatt – SHR
  • Kim Deitner – SHR
  • Janice Platzke – CHR/SEIU-West Treasurer
  • Russel Doell – Deputy Director, Collective Bargaining and Enforcement (Staff)
  • Kerry Barrett – Negotiations Officer (Staff)
  • Bob Laurie – Director, Collective Bargaining and Enforcement (Staff)
  • Barb Cape – SEIU-West President

The time commitment for the SAHO/Extendicare Bargaining Committee is substantial, and I want to thank each and every single committee member who agreed to taking on such a large undertaking – it certainly was a hard decision to make!

I believe that this group of members, leaders and staff is truly committed to ensuring the best possible collective agreement for all SAHO and Extendicare members – I look forward to working with this great team!

In the meantime, we ask that all our health care members engage in current government initiatives that will affect our public health care system.

Transformational Change in Health Care:

Our provincial government has set out on a path of “Transformational Change” in our Saskatchewan health care system, yet it is riddled with mystery.

“Transformational Change” within health care in Saskatchewan must be questioned and explained – why the lack of clear definitions? Why is there not meaningful consultation? Why is the mandate solely to reduce the number of Regional Health Authorities? Has my government considered other means to ensure efficiency in quality health care?

Members of the public and frontline health care workers deserve transparency – we urge you to send a letter questioning the purpose of health care reform:

Click “Participate” to send a letter through our campaign page to the Minister of Health Jim Reiter!

In Solidarity,

Barb Cape

National Nursing Week – It’s Continuing Care Assistants (CCA) Day!

By Barb Cape, President – SEIU-West

Hello and Happy Nursing Week!

We are well into our celebrations within SEIU-West…whether there has been a cake in your facility, or you’ve participated in our Nursing Week contest or you are simply enjoying a collaborative nursing team…all of these things matter.

Earlier this week, I talked about the role of the LPN in continuing education and the skills brought to their work as part of the nursing team. Today I want to talk about the role of our CCAs.

The Continuing Care Assistants bring experience, knowledge and training to their daily work. With a certificate program that covers different aspects and environments of care, there is a focus on the technical aspects of the work. But the people who work within this classification also bring a considerable amount of compassion to the care they provide.

I have always said that it’s a special person who works in health care or related fields, regardless of classification. But for the CCA, they are with people during the most vulnerable point in their lives, whether it’s at the end of life, or daily care, or during truly difficult medical situations – they provide the hands-on role of care provider that we seldom see elsewhere.

RNs bring a level of knowledge and skill specific to more involved health care needs; LPNs provide a practical and immediate knowledge for assessment and care plans; and CCAs are the eyes and ears of the team; providing invaluable observations and contributing to the overall ability of the health care team to use their respective level of knowledge and skill in the field via hands-on care.

I believe that there is a need for a reboot of how we look at nursing teams. There is an opportunity for a greater degree of collaboration in the team itself; a recognition of the knowledge and skill that each member brings to the overall provision of nursing care.

We all have a role in this system; we do not operate in silos. Each person who works in health care is a front-line expert and we should acknowledge and respect both their unique role and their responsibility.

For today during Nursing Week, join me in celebrating the Continuing Care Assistants who provide dignity, comfort and care to those they serve.

To enter the Nursing Week Contest, click here.

To download a PDF of the Nursing Week Poster, click here.

Celebrate Nursing Week – It’s Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) Day!

By Barb Cape, President – SEIU-West

Happy National Nursing Week!! SEIU-West is so proud of its members who work in nursing teams – this week serves as an opportunity to show our gratitude, and to also share important information around the vital work they do. To start the week, I want to begin by highlighting Licensed Practical Nurses (stay tuned for Continuing Care Assistants’ Day, later this week!)

Recently, I had a very interesting conversation with a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) who is a member of SEIU-West in Saskatoon. She was upset about the ongoing struggle between the Registered Nurses and members of SUN, and their regulatory body, the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA). She said, “Today is a sad day for regulation in Saskatchewan”. And while we in health care pay attention to these issues, what is this really about? 

Recently, the Ministry of Health approved the new set of bylaws that govern the Licensed Practical Nurse scope of practice under which LPNs can safely work. The bylaws were intended to provide role clarity as they describe quite specifically the work that is done by LPNs daily based on their competencies. As well, the LPN education program created and delivered by SASK Polytech has expanded to encompass some additional duties and practices. The new bylaws reflect these added education pieces. This process is no different from that of every other regulated profession, as they seek to remain up-to-date. For example, LPNs, Doctors, RNs, technologists, and pharmacists are all required to take continuing education credits to ensure that they remain current in their profession. It’s a great idea and even though I’m not in a regulated profession, I think lifelong learning and staying up to speed on my profession (Chef) is a brilliant idea.

But that’s part of the problem: SRNA and others are arguing that these skills are not a part of a LPNs ‘foundational’ education (aka their original course). But that’s a red herring because regulated professions add to their body of knowledge via their educational program. Additional courses and skill upgrades are regularly offered to all professions – regardless of who they are in health care. Lawyers do it. Accountants do it. And RNs do it…so why not LPNs? These courses or programs might be offered on-line, or via an employer, or through Sask Polytech… but they all must be a recognized and vetted course in order for it to count towards improving one’s skills.

There is a claim that LPNs are working outside of their scope and putting patients at risk. I have said this before and will say this again: PROVE IT! And if you know of someone working outside of their scope, contact SALPN immediately! It’s not ok once or twice; it’s not ok if no one is looking – it is not OK! But that being said, I have yet to find any evidence of LPNs putting their patients at risk by working outside of the LPN scope of practice. If the true issue is a lack of acceptance of the expanded education, skill and competencies of LPNs – that’s just goofy. There is a role for every health care profession in advancing the model of care Saskatchewan residents deserve. There is no role for professional jealousies.

As our LPN member who works in an Operating Room, she said: “…I love my job. I love going to work every day and I feel honored to help people during one of the scariest times in their lives. I took the same peri-op program as my RN counterparts and was partnered for group assignments with a RN. I was the sole LPN in a group with five RNs… we wrote the same exams, assignments and research papers. I feel strongly that my education prepared me to serve in my role. I feel strongly that the public should be able to have confidence in me when I come to walk them into the operating room. I am good at what I do.”

Click to enlarge.

The public needs to know that the work of EVERYONE on the health care team is valued. From maintenance, to administration, to front-line nursing, to support services, and everything in between. There are some jobs that I can’t and shouldn’t do, because I am a cook; just as there are some duties that a LPN can’t and shouldn’t do because it’s outside of the scope of practice for a LPN. There really is a role for all members of the nursing team including the RN, the LPN and the CCA.

As we celebrate Nursing week, I ask you to remember this: everyone has skills to bring to our health care system. We cannot operate in silos; we cannot eliminate any one player on our health care team and we all know how to improve our health care system… let’s remember that this week. Let’s work together to build strong nursing teams – to do this we must stop the ongoing attacks against all members of our nursing teams, recognize and value the professional skills offered by each and create pride and respect for our diverse roles.

Other Resources:

To enter the Nursing Week Contest, click here.

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