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ACP program cut at RRC a blow to Paramedics, rural health care: MAHCP President

Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals -

The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals has the following comments on the suspension of Red River College’s Advanced Care Paramedic Program:

“The suspension of the Advanced Care Paramedic (ACP) diploma program at Red River College, reported yesterday, represents yet another short-sighted cut by the Manitoba Government and yet another blow to rural health care in our province. Manitoba has been moving toward a more consistent and professional model of Emergency Response Services for years now, and we’ve made some progress, but this cut takes us in the opposite direction. It will make it even more difficult to recruit and retain paramedics with advanced skills to serve rural Manitobans in an emergency, and it’s another signal that the Manitoba Government is moving in the wrong direction on rural health care. Manitoba Paramedics and all Manitobans deserve better.

“The Manitoba Association of Health Care Professionals is calling on the Manitoba Government to immediately reinstate the Advanced Care Paramedic diploma program at Red River College, and to ensure that ACPs are recognized and able to work to their full scope of practice in rural Manitoba.”

– Bob Moroz, MAHCP President

CAUT condemns arrest of Beijing professor


(Ottawa – July 9, 2020) CAUT has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping protesting the arrest of professor Xu Zhangrun, and calling for the repeal of the National Security Act for Hong Kong.

 “Xu has joined a growing list of people who have been imprisoned for exercising their civil and professional rights,” charges CAUT Executive Director David Robinson, in the letter. “This arrest and the far-reaching security laws effectively curtail freedom of speech and threaten academic freedom.”

Xu, a legal scholar at Tsinghua University, was arrested July 6 after openly criticizing China’s direction under Xi’s government, including laying blame last January for the Corona virus outbreak directly upon the Chinese leader. The National Security Act for Hong Kong came into effect on June 30 and is likely to be used to crack down on dissent.

Read the entire letter

FUNSCAD votes no confidence in Board of Governors


(Ottawa – July 8, 2020) Members of the Faculty Union of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (FUNSCAD) have overwhelmingly voted no confidence in the College’s Board of Governors after the abrupt removal on June 26 of President Aoife Mac Namara.

“Our members have spoken,” says FUNSCAD President Mathew Reichertz. “The lack of transparency in the Board’s decision to remove the President after only 11 months in the position, and its unwillingness to share the reasons for its decision has created a vacuum of information that is destabilizing to the University and destroying our trust in the Board and its ability to responsibly fulfill its fiduciary duties.”

Over 95 per cent of FUNSCAD members voted, and more than 96 per cent voted no confidence.

Reichertz says the Board’s unexplained actions are damaging to NSCAD, and is calling for transparency about the decision. “The Board is the only entity that can repair this problem, either by providing a compelling and satisfactory explanation to the community it serves, and proving that it can act collegially and transparently; or by reinstating the President, and stepping down so that others who have the trust of the community may take up this important responsibility.”

Widespread VIA Rail layoffs reveal deep failure of CERB program rules

Unifor -

July 8, 2020

OTTAWA – More than 1000 VIA Rail workers received layoff notice today, along with news that Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s CERB rules still deny them employer-paid income top up.

“The CERB rules step all over longstanding income security practices that workers and employers have held for decades,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Many rail workers showed up throughout the early weeks of the pandemic, and continue to deliver service despite the risk to their own health. The least that workers deserve from the federal government is to honour their hard fought collective agreement benefits.”

VIA Rail, as a crown corporation, is unfairly barred from accessing the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy for its workers, despite a massive downturn in passenger rail service. The corporation paid its employees who did not have work due to the pandemic 70 per cent of wages until this point.

While on temporary layoff, the affected members will be able to apply for the CERB, but are denied the negotiated supplemental income plan (SUB plan) that is in their collective agreements.

 “Instead of allowing employers to hold up contractual obligations that are negotiated specifically for situations like this - the federal government prohibits it,” said Renaud Gagné, Unifor Quebec Director.

“More than 4000 Unifor members have already emailed Morneau and Minister Qualtrough demanding that this policy be revoked. How many thousands of workers need to lose their income and benefits before the government corrects this awful policy?” continued Gagné.

Unifor alone has negotiated SUB plans for about 50,000 members in many sectors. SUB plans are no cost to the public treasury, and are part of a contract that a worker, or their union, makes directly with an employer.

Unifor has a member-driven petition to ministers Morneau and Qualtrough, demanding that they stop denying SUB plans. Visit www.unifor.org/SUBplans for more information.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange interviews via Skype, Facetime or Zoom contact Sarah McCue, Unifor National Communications Representative at 416-458-3307 (cell) or sarah.mccue@unifor.org.

For French interviews, please contact Unifor Quebec Communications Representative, Marie-Andrée L'Heureux at marie-andree.lheureux@unifor.org or 514-916-7373 (cell).

Severance payment for Northern Pulp workers must be priority

Unifor -

July 8, 2020

HALIFAX—Unifor is urging the Nova Scotia government to work with Northern Pulp to secure Debtor-In-Possession (DIP) financing amid the company’s restructuring.

“As one of the largest creditors to Northern Pulp, the Nova Scotia government is the one holding the purse strings and they will determine if the company can honour its obligations to the workers and maintain the facility during hibernation,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “There is no reason the government should object to DIP financing, especially considering the hundreds of families relying on severance to see them through job loss and a pandemic.”

Northern Pulp notified the union on Tuesday, July 7 that it would not be able to make the second planned severance payment to workers scheduled for the end of July if the company and province could not come to an agreement to allow for third party financing. The company advised members that government had requested more time to review financing terms prior to  the July 3 court date, pushing a decision back to a hearing on July 24.

“Unifor members at the mill received a paltry $650 from the government’s $63.5 million Forestry Transition Fund, so this promised severance is even more essential to them,” said Linda MacNeil, Atlantic Regional Director. “We expect the parties to come to a financial agreement that allows our members to be paid and all responsible maintenance and cleanup at the mill site to continue during shut down. Now is not the time to leave families in the lurch financially.”

Northern Pulp parent company Paper Excellence has reassured Unifor and its members that it is committed to supporting employees and maintaining the opportunity for long-term employment at the mill.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing more than 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 24,000 in the forestry sector. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

For media inquiries contact National Communications Representative Shelley Amyotte at 902-717-7491 or shelley.amyotte@unifor.org.

Kenney’s attack on unions makes corporate bosses even more powerful

Unifor -

July 7, 2020

EDMONTON—Premier Jason Kenney’s Bill 32 attempts to undermine the voice of Alberta’s working people while ensuring corporations remain as powerful and unaccountable as ever, says Unifor.

“When unions use free speech rights to speak out against injustice, we’re standing up for all workers,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Combined with criminalizing protest under the new Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, Jason Kenney is using the power of big government to silence the voices of working people.”

Bill 32 proposes to limit unions’ public advocacy campaigns with a government-imposed “free-loader” union dues model that lets union members benefit from union advocacy without paying for it, says Unifor. The union also says that Bill 32 would hamstring Kenney’s most effective critics and consolidate his own power.

“In this new attack on working peoples’ rights, Jason Kenney is using government regulations to benefit his friends in big business,” said Gavin McGarrigle, Unifor Western Regional Director. “Fixing the rules to give even greater power to the rich and powerful will only hurt Alberta’s economic recovery. Working people must be heard if we’re going to build a more fair and sustainable society.”

Unifor says that, much like is expected with the undemocratic Critical Infrastructure Defense Act, Bill 32 will eventually be ruled unconstitutional by courts.

“Rather than admitting that his weak economic plan has made matters worse, Kenney would rather pick ideological fights using bad laws that will be thrown out by courts,” said McGarrigle.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

To arrange for interviews, in-person or via Skype/Facetime, please contact Unifor Communications Representative Ian Boyko at ian.boyko@unifor.org or 778-903-6549 (cell).