Call for Volunteers – Join CUPE at the St. John’s Regatta!

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Say NO to privatizing our health care! 

CUPE needs your help to hand out information telling the Ball Government to keep our health care facilities out of the hands of private interests.

Please join us August 2nd at the Regatta! Every CUPE member who helps will get a CUPE Trojan Horse t-shirt.

While at a meeting in Deer Lake yesterday, Minister Haggie said, “Staff from the province were meeting with three vendors interested in taking on the project.” Haggie went on to say the long-term care build is estimated at $120 to $140 million, a $20 million variance and the acute care build would see numbers over $700 million, approaching $900 million.

A $200 million variance! I don’t take a lot of comfort in these inconsistent numbers.

To volunteer, contact Sister Sherry Hillier with your availability. Please indicate whether you can volunteer for 4 hours, 2 hours, all day, in the morning or in the afternoon.

Email: sherryhillier@nl.rogers.com

Telephone: 709-765-2996

PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR MEMBERSHIP.

In Solidarity,

Wayne Lucas
President, CUPE Newfoundland Labrador

Volunteer now – Send an email

CUPE NL mourns the passing of Sister Susan Shiner

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CUPE Newfoundland Labrador was saddened to learn of the passing of Sister Susan Shiner who was a feminist activist and stood for social justice and equality within the CUPE family and in society.

Susan was a long-time member of both CUPE local 3762, Iris Kirby House and CUPE Local 3017, Daybreak Parent Child Centre.

Susan served on CUPE’s National Women’s Committee and also CUPE NL’s Equality Committee. She was a fierce advocate for equality for all, for childcare, and for universal non-profit childcare throughout the country.

Susan was always there when called upon and also worked very hard with our Political Action Committee.

She will be sorely missed.

Wayne Lucas
President, CUPE Newfoundland Labrador

Natalie Mehra talks about P3s on The Good Morning Corner Brook Show

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On May 1, 2017, Natalie Mehra joined Bernice Hillier on The Good Morning Corner Brook Show (CBC Radio) to talk about the public-private partnership the Ball Government will use to build two new health care facilities in Corner Brook.


Listen to the interview



Bernice Hillier: Earlier this year, government announced it would build a new hospital and long-term care in Corner Brook by partnering with private enterprise.

The P3 approach is relatively new in this province and not everyone is sold on the idea, including the union representing many health care workers in this province.

Tonight [May 1], CUPE is holding a town hall meeting in Corner Brook to talk about public-private partnerships and my next guest will be presenting at that meeting. You can come out and hear her speak this evening.

Natalie Mehra is with the Ontario Health Coalition, which is a health care advocacy group. She’s my guest in studio this morning. Good morning Natalie Mara.

Natalie Mehra: Good morning and thanks for having me.

Bernice Hillier: Thanks for coming in. First off, tell me about your experience with P3s in Ontario.

Natalie Mehra: Well they brought them in in 2001 and since then the new hospitals, that are full new builds, have been built that way and they have been unbelievably expensive.

They really have been a disaster in terms of funding. And they’re so expensive now that, basically, what they’re doing is closing two or three or more hospitals for every one that they build.

Bernice Hillier: Now, expensive to construct or expensive to operate?

Natalie Mehra: Both, because they’re a type of privatization. They called them public-private partnerships, but it was a name brought in by the industry itself to sell them to the public.

Really what they are is a type of privatization, and in them, the private sector forms a consortium, a group of companies, and they design, build, finance and then operate the hospital.

They sell it back to the public hospital board for 30 years, and bundle in a range of services. It can be from the portering (the moving of patients around the hospital), to the food, to the patient records and security. All those types of services are usually bundles into the deals.

The deals are much more expensive – and nobody denies that they’re much more expensive – than just building the hospital in the traditional way. They bifurcate, so they cut in half the management of the hospital. Half of it is handed over to the for-profit companies. Half of it is the public hospital.

They have totally different interests. The public hospitals run for altruism, for compassion. The private sector is in it to take as much money out as they possibly can and it leaves all kinds of problems.

Bernice Hillier: Now, the government in this province has consistently said that this hospital and this long-term care centre, that’s being discussed for Corner Brook using a P3 model, will be publicly run with employees who are still members of the public sector unions.

Would that make you think differently about the approach here, compared to what you’ve see in Ontario? Because it sounds like a little bit of a different model.

Natalie Mehra: Well, in Ontario we rolled back the amount of privatization. So, as I understand it, they [the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador] have put out the Request for Qualifications for the long-term facility in Corner Brook.

That’s a “Design, Build, Finance, Maintain”. So part of the operations are privatized in that model. The range of services to be privatized is not clear at this point and will be negotiated with the consortium.

The hospital hasn’t written the tenders yet. It’s not out yet and it remains to be seen the extent of the privatization, but it doesn’t matter. The financing is so expensive that basically… in Britain what they found… they cut the doctors by 11%, they cut the nurses by 14%, the support staff by 22 – 30%, in order to pay for the higher cost of financing.

Even after that, there’s what they call the “P3 effect”. The spin-off effect. They’re so expensive to operate that when the hospital, or the long-term care home, has to make cuts, the only part of the budget that isn’t tied up for 30 years are the doctors, the nurses and the clinical staff. That’s where the cuts have to come from. If it’s [where cuts are permitted] not written in the contract, they don’t have to do it, or it needs to be renegotiated.

The shell (building maintenance) is run by the private sector, so in the P3 schools you couldn’t tack anything up on the wall. You couldn’t rent out the school in the evenings to community groups if it was being used by the by the consortium. It fundamentally changes what was a public service because half of it is run (really owned and operated or in the control of) by a private for-profit consortium for an entire generation.

Send your MHA a message: Stop P3 deals before you saddle us with more debt

Bernice Hillier: Government has said that the private sector can build these buildings more cheaply, that it will be more cost-effective. So you’re saying that’s not been your experience in Ontario?

Natalie Mehra: It’s not been the experience in any jurisdiction that’s done them anywhere. It’s not been the experience in British Columbia, it’s not the experience in Britain, it’s the experience nowhere in the world. They’re far more expensive.

Bernice Hillier: Why?

Natalie Mehra: Because the financing is more expensive. Government has the ability to borrow – it’s kind of like purchasing in bulk – they can borrow at a better rate.

There’s all kinds of other options. Government could issue bonds, Medicare bonds, to build our new hospitals… give a reasonable rate of return, but nothing like the usurious rate of return that the private companies are charging. And we would own and control them for the duration of their economic lives.

But in this case, the private sector is given the control, a large portion of the control. If you have problems, you have to negotiate it out. There’s all kinds of legalities around that and, for a hospital, every time you need to enforce the contract you’re making a decision… Do we take money away from the doctors and nurses and patient care to put it towards the lawyers and fighting with the consortium in court? Or do we just put up with them not fulfilling the contract?

One: exorbitant building costs [go] far beyond the costs of any public project. Two: the ongoing operating costs. In Ontario, the biggest cuts that we see in hospitals are in the P3 hospitals. They’ve been devastated. Some of them have been around now for the better part of a decade and every year they have massive cuts. In Sault Saint Marie, in North Bay… in those hospitals…

If there’s anything that I could do, as a health care advocate from Ontario coming to Newfoundland, it would be [to recommend], “Don’t go down this road. Everyone who’s been down this road has built a shrinking hospital system for the next generation, for exorbitant cost.”

Bernice Hillier: Are there any positives? Surely the government isn’t completely misguided.

Natalie Mehra: No, there really are no positives in these deals. They bundle a range of services that have no business being bundled in for 30 years. They tie up the hospital budget and give less ability for the public hospital management, operating in the public interest, to control what happens in the hospital. They privatize the lands and the facilities of the hospitals, and they cost more.

There’s just no upside. And they don’t deliver them on time or on budget. That’s utter nonsense. It has never been the experience. Not in Britain. Not in British Columbia.

Bernice Hillier: People here want a new health care facility desperately. It’s been a decade since it was first promised. The government says this is the only way to afford it.

Natalie Mehra: That’s what they said everywhere.

Bernice Hillier: In your opinion, is that a fair trade for a new hospital?

Natalie Mehra: Not at all. It’s cheaper to build it publicly. So if the issue is you can’t afford to build it, and therefore I have to wait, surely it’s better to do it the cheaper way than the more expensive way.

It’s the way of getting them [private companies] in. It’s governments that are ideologically predisposed to privatization, who have been meeting with the financial industry, who are unduly influenced by the consultants and the financiers and the construction industry, that are the prime beneficiary of these projects. Usually the consulting industry is really the one that brings them in. There’s massive transaction costs in these deals. They are gargantuan deals.

When we won disclosure… they’re all commercial secrets… even though it’s public money, it’s very hard to get access to them. We fought in court for four years and we won disclosure of the Brampton P3 deal in Ontario, a big hospital deal. The paperwork for the deal is taller than me. It was a six-foot deal. They cover the operations of the hospital for 30 years.

They are a gift, a huge gift, to the consulting firms of the world. They’re the ones who are lobbying government to bring them in.

There’s no need to do it. None whatsoever. You’re going to pay for your hospital one way or another. So might as well build them publicly. Own and control them yourselves, for the public interest and not for private interests.

Natalie Mehra is the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

New Radio Ads: July 24 – 30, 2017

creynolds Collective Bargaining, Crossroads

A new radio ad campaign by public service workers in Newfoundland and Labrador hit the airwaves today, on radio stations across the province. CUPE’s public services workers launched the ads to voice their concerns about the Ball Government’s failure to protect good jobs, as well as the impact on our economy and our public services.

CUPE believes the Ball Government should recognize the public sector as a driver of economic growth. There are steps the Province can take in the collective bargaining process – and in the next budget – that put people first, protect the public services we need, create good jobs and a stronger economy.

Listen to radio ads 1 & 2

Four radio ads will play from July 24-30 and August 6-14.

CUPE Newfoundland Labrador represents approximately 6,000 public service workers in health care, education, treasury, public housing, provincial libraries, university, transition and group homes, child care and much more.

Listen and watch all the ads at nl.cupe.ca/crossroads.

Nova Scotia’s Billion Dollar Trojan Horse

creynolds News Release, Privatization

A cautionary tale for taxpayers in Newfoundland and Labrador

Imagine a giant wooden horse just rolled into Corner Brook and everyone is impressed with the incredible gift sent to the community from the Ball Government. People come from miles and miles to admire the beautiful gift, to be used to build much needed health care facilities. After all, they’ve heard about this gift for years and when it finally arrives everyone is both relieved and grateful.

This is essentially what happened in Nova Scotia when the Liberal government embarked upon public-private partnerships (P3s) twenty years ago to build and maintain 39 schools across the province.

Recently, the NS Liberal government realized their mistake to privately construct and lease the schools. They should have owned the schools outright from the start. Over the past year, they’ve bought back the leases for 37 of the schools and handed two of the schools back to the developers.

The back door of Nova Scotia’s Trojan Horse dropped open and to the dismay of everyone, out walked the developers, consultants, and consortiums. Each one carry bags full of money – the profit motive behind their P3 deals.

What was in those mystery bags in Nova Scotia’s Trojan Horse?

  • $440.4 million in principal payments
  • $326.2 million in interest payments
  • $214.8 million in buy-out payments

Plus, the cost of handing two of the schools back to the developers – with nothing for taxpayers to show for it.

Plus, the money given to private companies to maintain the schools over the course of twenty years.

Send your MHA a message: Stop P3 deals before you saddle us with more debt

In 2010, Nova Scotia’s auditor general said school boards were delivering services at a lower cost than what was paid to the developers. The auditor general said the province could have saved millions if it had built and maintained schools the traditional public way.

Time and time again provincial governments are forced to admit they were wrong to use P3 deals to construct facilities to deliver our public services, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. Yet here we are as the Ball Government embarks on a P3 deal to construct and maintain two health care facilities in Corner Brook. At the great expense of taxpayers – now and for years to come.

To date, we have wisely avoided using P3s in Newfoundland and Labrador. Let’s use a publicly funded finance model to build and maintain our health care facilities.

Let’s send the Ball Government’s Trojan Horse back where it came from.

 

Library workers slam EY report on library services

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CUPE members are asking how a long overdue report and at great cost to taxpayers, fails to provide the one recommendation it was ostensibly commissioned to deliver – whether or not to close public libraries in 54 communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. There are no specific recommendations regarding the closures; rather, there are vague observations about establishing location parameters to decide which libraries should close or be amalgamated.

The provincial government finally released the long-awaited EY report on the review of library services late on Thursday afternoon, May 18, 2017.

“Our members are living with an axe hanging over their heads and have not been given a reprise. Instead, they are expected to wait longer to discover the fate of their employment,” says Dawn Lahey, president of CUPE Local 2329. “This is extremely upsetting to me and to my members. It is morally wrong to expect people to live with this kind of stress for such an extended period.”

The report also endorses further consultation, presumably to be conducted by EY consultants, and at the expense of taxpayers and the people who rely on public library services.

The report recommends consultations take place with the provincial government and municipalities, including Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, with library funding to be shared by the province and municipalities.

“The union will request an audience with Minister Kirby to discuss this report and we hope we’ll be able to work with the minister and the public to strengthen our valued public library system,” says Lahey.

The report recognizes that the system is drastically underfunded and understaffed. It does not provide a place for the contribution of CUPE 2329 members in the decision-making process regarding policy initiatives or funding. It places greater weight on the contribution of “professional librarians” than on the hard work of the people who provide frontline services.

“There are some recommendations contained in the report we can agree with; however, there are few concrete recommendations arising from this exercise,” says Dawn Learning, CUPE national representative. “While the report contemplates library closures and if employees should retain their positions, it does not make any recommendations regarding which libraries should remain open.”

“There is a complete disregard for CUPE’s involvement in the library system and the provision of library services,” says CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Wayne Lucas. “Staffing recommendations include hiring a full-time head librarian and increasing the number of professional librarians, but there is no mention of hiring more frontline library workers. Increasing the number of professional librarian positions in the system will not enhance library services to library patrons.”

“Frontline workers are disappointed in the results of a process that did not include them and does not make any provision to include them in recommendations and policy revisions going forward, says Lahey. “Library workers deserve better – especially those workers who have been waiting for an extended period to find out if they will keep their jobs.”

Member Update – May 19, 2017

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Good Morning CUPE Local 2329:

As you are all aware, the long-awaited Ernst and Young report on the review of library services was finally released yesterday afternoon. It is not surprising that Government chose late on a Thursday afternoon just prior to the first long weekend of the summer to release the report. People are busy preparing and looking forward to the upcoming summer kickoff and are not likely to pay too much attention to the findings of the report.

We are currently digesting its contents and will be issuing a press release next week, once we have had the opportunity to fully consider what it contains.

Our initial thoughts are mixed. The report recognizes that the system is underfunded and understaffed as a result of years of neglect by successive governments. Having said that, it does not provide a place for the contribution of CUPE Local 2329 members in the upcoming decision making regarding future funding and other policy initiatives. It also places greater weight on the contribution of “professional librarians” than on the hard work of you, the CUPE Local 2329 members who provide the frontline services that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador value so highly.

There are no specific recommendations regarding library closures; rather, there are vague observations about establishing location parameters to decide which libraries should close or be amalgamated. Those of you who have had to live with an axe hanging over your heads since the beginning of this saga have not been given a reprise. Instead, you are expected wait longer still to discover what the fate of your employment will be. This is extremely upsetting to us, your CUPE Local 2329 executive and leadership. It is also morally wrong to expect people to live with this kind of stress for such an extended period.

The executive will be meeting with Dawn Learning, our CUPE National representative on Tuesday night to discuss the report and formulate our official response to it. In the meantime, please read it, think about it, and send us your thoughts.

You can read the full report here: http://www.nlpl.ca/phocadownload/NLPL-Review-EY-Report-Final-May-5-2017.pdf

We look forward to hearing from you and to continuing the fight to preserve your employment and to provide quality library services to the people of the province.

In Solidarity,
CUPE Local 2329 Executive

Master Bargaining Update – May 15, 2017

creynolds Bargaining Update

Dear sisters and brothers:

Today, Finance Minister Cathy Bennett offered an update about bargaining with public sector unions, at a meeting of the Association of Chartered Professional Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Both NAPE and CUPE are currently in conciliation with the Labour Relations Board. It is not clear why the Minister would, once again, make comments about bargaining to the association and the media.

Also, the government wrote to NAPE last week stating that bargaining has stalled and that the conciliation process has ended. NAPE does not share this opinion.

In their letter, the government asked to bring all tables together to start a new process. NAPE is seeking clarification from the Labour Relations Board about the status of the conciliation process.

Our staff representatives are meeting with NAPE on this week to discuss the current status of bargaining and possible next steps.

CUPE has not been contacted by government about this new process. We are firmly committed to the conciliation process and to reaching a fair deal at the bargaining table.

We will continue to update members involved in master bargaining with the province.

In solidarity,

Dawn Learning, Ed White, Donna Ryan

CUPE national staff representatives

Corner Brook town hall calls for new health facilities to stay public

creynolds Article, Own Your NL, Privatization

Participants at a town hall meeting in Corner Brook, NL were clear their community needs a new hospital and expanded seniors’ care – but that it must stay public.

The forum focused on the Ball government’s proposal to privatize a long-term care facility and hospital in Corner Brook by using a public-private partnership (P3). Plans are in the early stages, and speakers emphasized it’s not too late to keep the facilities fully public.

“The people of Corner Brook have been advocating for a new hospital for well over 20 years. They need it, they deserve it, and they should have it,” said CUPE Newfoundland and Labrador President Wayne Lucas.

“The only question is: do we build a hospital and a long-term care home the way we’ve always done it, publicly? Or do we use a risky P3 that kicks the costs down the road 20 years or more?”

Natalie Mehra, coordinator of the Ontario Health Coalition, described the far-reaching impact of high-priced P3 hospitals, after nearly two decades of provincial Liberal privatization policies.

Ontario’s auditor general found the province’s P3 program, including many hospital projects, cost $8 billion more than publicly financed and delivered projects. “That money could have built 27 community hospitals,” said Mehra.

“You’re going to borrow the money either way. Why not borrow it the cheapest way, at the best interest rate?”

Expensive P3 deals put pressure on health care budgets, and “the impact on services is dramatic,” said Mehra. Ontario P3 hospitals have been scaled back in size, beds and staff are being cut once facilities open, and multiple community hospitals are being closed and replaced with one central, privatized, hospital.

P3 health facilities are bad public policy, said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “From my home province of British Columbia, to the United Kingdom, everywhere you look, you’ll find overwhelming evidence to show P3s are failing the public interest. They’re over budget, and under-delivering for the people who paid for them – all of us,” he said.

“The bottom line is you don’t want to invite these consultants and multinational corporations into the centre of your health care system,” said Mehra. “They have an interest in maximizing their profits, and that will always take money away from the scope of services available – whether it’s for public health care, or public transportation, education or water.”

“Working together, CUPE members and residents of Corner Brook can protect seniors and patients and keep their facilities public,” said Mehra. “You can stop this, because it hasn’t started here.”

Lucas said CUPE plans to take the issue to the streets, to doorsteps in the community, and to the offices of MHAs. “We’re committed to have an army of activists out there. Corner Brook deserves no less than a brand-new hospital and great long-term care. We intend to push this government back.”