Early childhood educators say new pre-primary program is unrealistic and unsustainable

CUPE representatives are asking the McNeil Government to hit pause on the pre-primary program announced July 18 by Minister Zach Churchill, and begin consultations with parents and the people who do the work – early childhood educators (ECEs), directors of non-profit centres and other stakeholders.

“We’re asking the Premier and the Minister of Education to prevent another foreseeable failure,” says Margot Nickerson, an early childhood educator and president of CUPE 4745. “Serious mistakes, with serious consequences, are being made.”

“The announcement leaves many more questions than answers,” says CUPE Child Care Coordinator Naomi Stewart. “It’s hard to believe this program will succeed, when the Department cannot offer a basic analysis to show the availability of qualified ECEs in the province needed to fill these new positions.”

In 2016 the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development released a plan Affordable, Quality Child Care: A Great Place to Grow! that included action items and a “wage floor” increase for early childhood educators that rises with the level of training as a way to help with the recruitment and retention of ECE’s in the Child Care Centres within the province.

This sector has been plagued by high staff turnover and low staffing levels due to inferior wages and working conditions,” says CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen. “The situation will only become worse, as ECEs with a degree leave child care centres to work in the new school board provided classrooms where, presumably, they’ll receive better wages, benefits and a pension – something many early childhood educators in the province don’t currently have.”

“The Minister is rushing this program through, without adequate planning. Solving one problem, in this way, will only create more problems,” says Nickerson.

CUPE represents early childhood educators in six centres in Halifax and in Bridgewater.

CUPE welcomes new members at Grand View Manor, Berwick

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is pleased to welcome our newest members, the employees of Grand View Manor in Berwick, Nova Scotia. Votes were counted by the Nova Scotia Labour Board today and CUPE is happy to welcome this newly certified local.

“We are pleased to welcome the new members of CUPE Local 5183, Grand View Manor, and we will work hard to represent them,” says CUPE National Representative Grant Dart.

CUPE now represents just over 200 members at Grand View Manor, a long term care and community services facility. The new local at Grand View Manor represents members who work as licensed practical nurses, continuing care assistants and health care aides, as well as staff in dietary, payroll, scheduling, environmental services, laundry, housekeeping and maintenance. In addition to the new members at Grandview Manor, CUPE represents more than 3,200 long term care workers in communities across Nova Scotia.

“Thank you to all employees of Grand View Manor for their patience and dedication through this long process,” says Dart. “We look forward to working with this dedicated group of new CUPE members, as well as the employer, to reach a first collective agreement,” adds Dart.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing more than 640,000 members across Canada. In Nova Scotia, CUPE represents approximately 19,000 members working in the public sector, including health care facilities, personal care homes, school boards, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

Nan McFadgen re-elected president of CUPE Nova Scotia

Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE Nova Scotia, was re-elected at the union’s 54th annual convention on May 31, 2017. More than 200 voting delegates from locals across the province attended the convention held May 28 to 31, at the Best Western Glengarry Hotel in Truro.

Other election results are as follows:

  • Dave Dort, recording secretary
  • Donna Vankroonenburg, three-year trustee
  • Chris Melanson, vice-president, Halifax
  • Marcy Vacon, vice-president, Yarmouth
  • Liz Paris, equity vice-president

The convention addressed several issues of concern to CUPE members, their families and communities in the province, including the provincial election, privatization threats, Bill 148 and other regressive pieces of legislation from the McNeil government.

CUPE Nova Scotia represents more than 19,000 working women and men employed throughout the public sector. We are proud to be part of Canada’s largest and fastest- growing union. CUPE represents workers in health care, education, municipalities, libraries, child care, universities, social services, public utilities, transportation, emergency services, and airlines.

CUPE members are service-providers, white-collar workers, technicians, labourers, skilled tradespeople, and professionals. More than two-thirds of CUPE members are women. About one-third of our members work part-time.

CUPE members elected to Nova Scotia Legislature

CUPE Nova Scotia congratulates former CUPE members Sue LeBlanc, MLA for Dartmouth North, and Tammy Martin, MLA for Cape Breton Centre, on their election to the Nova Scotia Legislature in the provincial election held May 30, 2017.

“It is thrilling to see two incredible women elected to represent Nova Scotians,” says Nan McFadgen, CUPE Nova Scotia president. “Having new progressive voices in the legislature is important for the future of the labour movement in the province. We know they’ll do a wonderful job.”

“We are also thrilled to have NDP leader Gary Burrill elected in Halifax Chebucto. He will fight to protect the things that matter most to workers and their families, like hospitals, schools, and publicly-delivered services,” says McFadgen.

Four other union members ran in the elections. Cheryl Burbidge, Ronald Crowther, Glenn Walton and Jim Laverie had excellent showings in the respective districts of Kings West, Northside Westmount, Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, and Yarmouth.

“We are concerned and disappointed by the outcome [Liberal majority] of the election. However, we are grateful for those who came out to vote and recognize there is much work to be done engaging Nova Scotians in our democracy,” says McFadgen. “Forty- three per cent is not representative of Nova Scotia.”

“We hope that newly elected MLAs will show greater respect for the collective bargaining process and the rights of workers to organize and belong to unions,” adds McFadgen. “There is much work to be done by the Liberal government to repair relations with public service workers and to settle collective agreements with all public sector unions.”

CUPE joins call for comprehensive plan to improve health care services in Digby

Beds sit empty at Digby hospital, while neighbouring hospitals unable to meet needs of all patients

“The Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) is not doing enough to ensure the Digby General Hospital is being used to full capacity,” says Carl Crouse, CUPE national representative. “Right now, there are approximately half of the 33 beds sitting empty, while hospitals nearby are reportedly in need of more beds on a regular basis.”

“Digby has had empty in-patient beds and empty restorative care beds for months now,” adds Crouse. “In a provincial health care system where there is overcrowding and bed shortages, it’s a real failure of the health authority to have any facility operating below capacity.”

“Our members are joining the call by the community, including the Digby Health Coalition, to improve public health care in the area,” says the Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE Nova Scotia.

“We agree with the coalition. The health authority and elected officials are not listening to the workers who provide health care services or the residents who depend on them,” says McFadgen. “We want to see a comprehensive plan that will deliver better quality, full-service health care and allow the Digby community to be a part of the decision-making process.”

CUPE 8920 represents 4,700 members working in acute care facilities across the province, including the Digby General Hospital.

Cape Breton education workers devastated by layoff notices

Twenty-eight education workers received layoff notices this week from their employer, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board (CBVRSB). The workers, who are members of CUPE Local 5050, include 23 teaching assistants, two secretaries, two supervisor cleaners and one cleaner. A bus driver and an inventory clerk position were also lost through attrition.

CUPE and Local 5050 members are devastated by the board’s decision to lay off staff.

“It is poor timing considering that the board members recently voted to increase their own wages. It’s a bitter pill to swallow when our members are losing jobs,” says Mary Jessome, CUPE Local 5050 president.

“The wage increases add up to approximately $40,000. For that amount, they could have kept a number of staff,” says Jessome.

“In February, the McNeil Government imposed a contract on teachers through Bill 75, which includes the creation of a committee to study inclusion in our classrooms. The bill also includes a clause that states no school board can make a change to their inclusion policies until that report from the committee comes back to the parties,” says CUPE school board coordinator Grant Dart.

“A large part of inclusion in the classroom is the work our CUPE teacher assistants do on a daily basis. For CBVRSB, or any school board, to lay off teacher assistants before the committee reports back seems wrong – and contradictory to the committee’s mandate.

“Why did the government set up a committee and spend taxpayers’ money to address inclusion issues, if school boards are cutting and reducing those services prior to hearing the recommendations?” asks Dart.

Cape Breton is already struggling to survive as schools close and job losses continue says Kathy MacLeod, CUPE national representative. “Sadly, more and more people continue to leave the region.”

“It’s not just our members and their families that are affected by these job losses. This will seriously impact the quality of education students receive,” says Jessome. “It will also cause a loss to the community in the rural Cape Breton areas that must be preserved.”

“We encourage parents, students and all concerned members of the community to contact local school board members and their MLA to voice their concerns.”

CUPE Local 5050 represents approximately 1,100 school board workers employed by the Cape Breton- Victoria Regional School Board.

2017 Provincial Election: What’s at stake for CUPE members?

Dear CUPE member,

I believe Stephen McNeil ‘s Liberal government is not listening to Nova Scotians.

Time and again, the choices made by the McNeil government have been out of touch with the needs of workers, their families and our communities.

The McNeil government deserves to be defeated. Just look at their track record.

A public health care system in crisis, budget cuts to nursing homes, threats to privatize home support services, tuition fee hikes, picking fights with unions, failing to create good jobs. . . the list goes on.

On Tuesday, May 30 you have the opportunity to vote for progressive NDP candidates who will stand up for working people and their families. A number of the NDP candidates are CUPE members, prepared to fight for you in our legislature.

Together we can do this.

Every vote counts!

Nan McFadgen
President , CUPE Nova Scotia

Download a printable copy of the election flyer and pass it out to CUPE members in your local!

The McNeil government’s attack on workers

  1. Bill 148, the Public Service Sustainability Act, freezes and limits wage increases, sets the term of collective agreements and puts an end to long service awards.
  2. Bill 37, the Essential Health and Community Services Act, limits job action rights of more than 40,000 workers in acute care, long term care, group homes, home support, child protect ion and other sectors.
  3. Bill 19, Trade Union Act amendments, made it harder for workers to exercise their right to unionize and secure a first collective agreement.
  4. Bill 75, the Teachers’ Professional Agreement and Classroom Improvement Act, imposed a collective agreement on teachers after they rejected the contract terms three times.
  5. Bill 100, the Universities Accountability and Sustainability Act, allows universities to override collective agreements during five-year “revitalization” periods.
  6. Bill 30, the Essential Home Support Services Act, directly interfered in the collective bargaining of home support workers.
  7. Bill 1, the Health Authorities Act, restructured the health care system, unnecessarily reduced the number of bargaining units, and at tempted to assign union representation rights.


Something to vote for

Gary Burrill and the NDP will repeal Bill 148, which forces a two-year wage freeze on public sector workers and ends the long service award, and Bill 100, which limits collective bargaining rights at Nova Scotia universities.

The NDP will reverse the cuts to nursing homes and put $8.3 million back into the province’s long term care facilities. An NDP government will phase in a $15 minimum wage to help lift 130,000 people out of poverty.

The NDP will repeal Bill 75, the legislation that imposed a contract on teachers, and reopen negotiations with their union.

Burrill pledged to continue the work of the previous NDP government and expand dental coverage to include all children under 18.

To make a fairer tax system and fund public services, an NDP government will increase the tax rate for individuals earning more than $250,000 by 3%, adding $82 million over 4 years to government revenues.


May 30 is Election Day!

It’s easy to vote in the Nova Scotia provincial election – on election day or before election day.

For information on how to vote, visit the website at electionsnovascotia.ca or phone 1-800-565-1504.

Got a couple hours to spare?

Support your local NDP candidate by volunteering. For more information or to make a donation, visit their website at nsndp.ca.

Follow CUPE Nova Scotia for updates

Website: novascotia.cupe.ca

Facebook: facebook.com/cupenovascotia

Twitter: twitter.com/cupenovascotia

Let’s elect a government that works for all of us!

Download a printable copy of the election flyer and pass it out to CUPE members in your local!

A warning for taxpayers in Nova Scotia

A shorter version of this editorial was published in the Halifax Metro newspaper special edition on unions, published April 24, 2017, along with this ad (see photo below).

Time and time again provincial governments are forced to admit they were wrong to use public private partnerships (P3s) to construct health care facilities, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Yet here we are as the McNeill Government embarks on another foreseeable failure with the QEII redevelopment project.

Last year, the Liberal government realized their mistake to privately construct and lease 39 schools. They should have owned the schools outright from the start. They recently bought back the leases for 26 of the schools, at an additional cost of approximately $162 million. The alternative was to walk away empty handed, while developers pocket the money spent over the years ($726 million on principal and interest payments) and keep the buildings.

First P3 schools, now P3 hospitals. It was recently reported that the government paid 12 times the assessed value of land purchased for a new outpatient centre.

Similar in scope to the QEII redevelopment, a review in 2014 of the P3 used to finance Montreal’s University Health Centres found that the capital costs were at least $1.8 billion over the original price tag. See more examples at novascotia.cupe.ca/no-room-for-profit-in health-care.

Why would the McNeil Government rely on P3s with higher-cost private financing? There’s a desire by many politicians to keep borrowing costs off their books, at least in the short term.

P3s are not in the best interest of workers, our families or our communities.

Nan McFadgen
CUPE Nova Scotia President

54th Annual Convention Call – 2017

Please see the attached documents relating to the 54th Annual CUPE Nova Scotia Convention.  Convention runs from Sunday, May 28th and ends on close of business on Wednesday, May 31.  All delegates are encouraged to make arrangements to stay until the end of business.

Document 1 – 2017 Convention Call Documents

Document _2 – CUPE NS Education Committee Letter November 7, 2015

Document _3 – 2017 Blank Resolution Form

Document _4 – Sample Resolution

Document _5 – 2017 Blank Constitutional Amendment Form

Document _6 – 2017 Resolutions and Constitutional Amendments – Important Info

Document _7 – 2017 Convention Solidarity Assistance Fund – Did You Know

Document _8 – 2017 Guidelines CUPE NS Convention Solidarity Assistance Fund

Document _9 – 2017 Form CUPE NS Convention Solidarity Assistance Fund

Document _10 – 2017 Child Care Request

Document _11 – 2017 CUPE NS Special Meal Request

Document _12 – Per Capita Increase Letter February 1, 2017

Document _13 – 2017 Barb Kowlaski Literacy Award

Document _14 – 2017 CUPE NS OH&S Award

Document _15 – 2017 Steward Of The Year Nomination Form

Document _16 – 2017 CUPE NS Rocky Jones Bursary

Document _17 – 2017 Higgins Insurance Scholarship