Greetings Sisters and Brothers,
Your SEIU-West bargaining committee has met a number of times to prepare our SEIU-West proposal package as well as our “common table” proposals to be tabled in negotiations with SAHO and the Regional Health Authorities (RHA’s). The SAHO and Extendicare bargaining committees have met jointly as both Collective Agreements are closely tied to one another.
We had met with SAHO on March 7th to discuss logistics (how often to meet, where, how many days consecutive, etc.). However this meeting was cut short due to the direct communication delivered by SAHO on behalf of the Minister of Finance. In that communication, the health care provider unions (in fact, all public sector unions) were ‘invited’ to join the elected politicians in reducing compensation by 3.5%, for example by agreeing to a number of unpaid days every year. Virtually identical correspondence was delivered to our education sector union leaders by their school divisions, on behalf of the Minister of Finance.
Since that time, the provincial budget has been presented, and we have analyzed its impact. The 3.5% compensation reduction expectation was included in the budget and has been a part of the deliberations of the Legislative Committee on Human Services. Subsequent to the budget being delivered, the Minister of Health has announced a further 10% funding cut to ‘community services’, as identified in the Ministry of Health’s budget. These are services like mental health support and addictions services, together with community support programs. Beyond the regions, what this means for affiliates and associate health care facilities like Extendicare is uncertain at this time. RHA budgets are due by June and this additional information will assist in developing a more comprehensive analysis.
With a declared deficit budget of over 1.3 billion dollars, the collapse of our regional health care structure to one provincial health authority; and the direct, ongoing and regressive tactics of government in interfering with free collective bargaining, once again we are faced with some monumental challenges. There are continuing threats of layoffs, service cuts, and the ever-present concern about contracting out or privatizing our bargaining unit work.
Separate from bargaining, the Unions have met to discuss what member representation would look like in a single provincial health authority. We have met with the Associate Deputy Minister of Health, Tracey Smith; Transition Team member, Mike Northcott; and CEO of SAHO, Mike Higgins; along with the Manager of Labour Relations for the Ministry of Health, Valerie Bayer to share the common principles developed by SEIU-West, along with CUPE and SGEU that would allow us to represent our members within a formal bargaining association. We know this form of representation will work as we have bargained as a coalition on common proposals in the last 3 rounds of SAHO bargaining. The unions have also worked collaboratively with Joint Job Evaluation, on benefits committees, joint trusteeship of SHEPP, and with 3rd parties such as 3sHealth on transcription services. We believe a form of continuation of this partnership will provide needed stability within the health care sector workforce for our members and your patients, clients and residents. However, Extendicare members are represented exclusively by SEIU-West and would not be included in our bargaining association.
The provider unions have agreed to meet again with SAHO and the RHA’s on May 3rd to conclude our logistics meeting. We expect to receive the government’s mandate in formal correspondence at that time and will report this to our membership.
We encourage you to share your questions and concerns about bargaining with the SEIU-West bargaining committee by contacting us through the Member Resource Center at 1-888-999-7348 Ext 2298 or contact us through the “contact us” form on SEIUWEST.ca.
Your participation in your Union makes your Union strong.
In Solidarity on behalf of your SAHO and ECI bargaining committees,
Your SEIU-West SAHO Provincial Bargaining Committee
CHR: Janice Platzke (SEIU-West Treasurer) • FHHR: Brenda Berry; Donna Gallant • HHR: Colleen Denniss • SHR: Judy Denniss; Rick Brown; Simone Corriveau; Kim Wyatt; Charlene Sarafin; • Staff: Bob Laurie (Dir. of Bargaining and Contract Enforcement); Russell Doell (Deputy Dir. of Bargaining and Contract Enforcement); Kerry Barrett (Negotiations Officer) • President: Barbara Cape