February 28, 2005 11:00 ET


CUPE, SEIU and SGEU launch information campaign Attention: Business/Financial Editor, Health/Medical Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor SASKATOON--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 28, 2005) - Three unions representing more than 25,000 health workers in Saskatchewan launched a major awareness campaign today in an effort to increase pressure on the Saskatchewan Association of Health Organizations (SAHO) and the government to negotiate fair contracts with their members.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) have purchased advertising space on television and radio, as well as in newspaper and on billboards.

The three unions represent members in the health service providers group, which encompasses more than 275 different jobs in acute care, long term care and community care/home care in health regions across the province. They include dietary aides, housekeepers, porters, special care aides, licensed practical nurses, laundry and maintenance workers, as well as laboratory, CT and MRI technologists.

"The central message of our campaign is that every job is important in the health sector," says Roselyn Colwell, President of SEIU Local 333 in Saskatoon. "Our members are part of the Saskatchewan health care team, contributing to the quality of our public health system. They deserve the same benefits and working conditions as other health-care workers."

Although the three unions negotiate separate collective agreements, they have developed a "common front" in bargaining to stop SAHO's attempts to treat health workers in the providers group unfairly.

"There has been a lot of talk about the government's mandate, but the union mandate is about more than just money," says Janice Platzke, President of SEIU Local 336 in Swift Current. "It's about creating healthy workplaces. It's about protecting our public health system. And it's about ensuring equitable treatment for our members."

Fairness is extremely important to our members, says CUPE's Gord Campbell, especially when it involves the extended health benefits plan.

"We want to maintain our current level of extended health benefits," he explains. "But SAHO is proposing our members either accept a cut in benefits or be forced to pay a monthly fee. In effect, this would create be a two-tiered health benefit system for health workers."

SAHO currently contributes 2.1 per cent of straight time payroll to the plan. The health service provider unions want the funding formula changed to a flat rate for each full-time equivalent position.

"The current funding formula breeds inequity because it benefits workers earning the highest wages," says SGEU's Rick Pryor. "The FTE-based formula would ensure all health employees receive the same level of benefit - just like our dental plan.

"It's fair, it's equitable and it recognizes that every health employee is valuable part of the health care team," Prior says.

The three unions have been involved in contract negotiations with SAHO for more than a year.

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In Saskatoon: Carl Mavromichalis, SEIU 416-951-4905

In Regina: Elaine Ehman, CUPE, 525-5874

Contact Information

  • Carl Mavromichalis, National Communications Coordinator
    Primary Phone: 416-951-4905
    Secondary Phone: 416-447-2311 ext. 243