COVID-19 update: marking one-year anniversary, fighting racism as vaccine rollout proceeds

One year after Canada’s first presumptive case of COVID-19 was announced, Premier John Horgan today took time to commemorate the more than 1,000 British Columbians lost to the coronavirus while thanking frontline workers for their efforts in keeping people safe and recommitting the Province to fighting the pandemic.

As well as honouring those who have died, said the premier, today’s solemn anniversary is an appropriate time “to acknowledge the countless efforts and sacrifices people have made to help protect and take care of others” since the pandemic was declared.

“Today we recommit ourselves to protecting people’s health and livelihoods from the threat of COVID-19, knowing that better days are ahead,” Horgan, said in his statement.

On Friday, the government announced a four-phased, age-based immunization plan which, in the first two phases, prioritizes the protection of those most susceptible to severe illness and death from COVID-19. The plan’s final two phases cover the general population.

The vaccine rollout, the largest in B.C.’s history, calls for every eligible British Columbian to receive a vaccine between April and the end of September – a total of 7.4 million doses (allowing for two doses per person). In partnership with communities, businesses and municipalities, the plan calls for clinics to be set up in 172 B.C. communities.

Phase One vaccinations of frontline health care workers began in December for long-term care and assisted living staff, and hospital health care workers who provide care to COVID-19 patients. Phase Two (February-March) vaccinations for health care workers will include hospital staff, community GPs and medical specialists not yet immunized, as well as workers providing community home support and nursing services for seniors.

As additional vaccines become available, frontline essential workers or those who work in specific workplaces who have not yet been immunized may also start receiving vaccines in Phase 3. British Columbians aged 69–16 who are deemed clinically extremely vulnerable will be eligible for early immunization in Phase 3. The timing of each phase may begin sooner than scheduled. Details for how to pre-register for the vaccine using mobile devices, computers or phone will be released by the end of February.

Fighting COVID racism

Also today, the government and the BC Green Party issued a joint statement condemning acts of racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples under the guise of COVID-19.

“We stand together with Indigenous peoples across the province to denounce and condemn in the strongest possible terms the racist behaviour and discrimination directed at Indigenous peoples,” says the statement, issued by Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives Rachna Singh, and BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau.

“We are deeply concerned about the recent reports coming from members of Cowichan Tribes and the mounting reports regarding anti-Indigenous racism from many other Indigenous communities throughout the province. Racism toward Indigenous peoples has no place in our society and it must stop. We need to stand up to this kind of reprehensible behaviour.”

Workload reporting now available for CUPE Community Health members

BURNABY—CUPE members working under the Community Health Bargaining Association (CBA) and Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) can now report workload issues with a tracking form that covers excessive workloads.

Among other things, this form can be used to record such problems as missed breaks and frequent interruptions.

If you’re a CUPE member under a CBA or HSPBA agreement and are experiencing workload issues, please complete the workload journal form and submit it to your shop steward.

Member engagement the key as health care presidents approve 2021 action plan

BURNABY—Having so far weathered the storm of COVID-19’s impact in the workplace thanks to the outstanding work of its members, CUPE’s Community Health sector is looking to ramp up its member engagement efforts during 2021.

At its final meeting for this year, the Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC) on Tuesday (December 8) approved an action plan that calls for more worksite visits, virtual meeting/webinars for each local’s bargaining unit, workshops on the Enhanced Disability Management Plan (EDMP), member guidance documents on workplace rights and the grievance filing process, and continued support to address workload in the sector.

HCPC members also confirmed a two-day workshop (December 14-15) on Intro to Stewarding and Notetaking with a focus on health sector issues and structure. They also discussed the possibility of conducting mental health workshops in 2021.

Also at the meeting, the HCPC endorsed PEA member Cindy Ashton as part-time backup to EDMP rep Benita Spindel, who the Council previously appointed for another year. The health care presidents also approved changes to the Protocol Agreement (including a welcome to the sector of CUPE 1004’s PHS members), confirmed that the classification redesign process continues, and that low wage redress achieved in the last round of bargaining will be applied on April 1, 2021.

It was reported that CUPE has received its portion of the funds for the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association’s professional development fund. Qualified CUPE members under the HSPBA are encouraged to apply.

Tuesday’s HCPC meeting was Chris Losito’s last as CUPE’s health care coordinator, as he has been reassigned to the union’s K-12 sector. Losito introduced new CUPE health coordinator Tanya Paterson, whose previous work as a CUPE representative includes assignments in the municipal, libraries, post-secondary and transportation sectors.

HSPBA final draft agreement 2019-2022

To all CUPE Health Science Professionals,

At long last, we are excited to be able to share with you the final draft of the HSPBA 2019-2022 collective agreement. The PDF document is searchable, thereby allowing you to locate specific terms by using the Search function in Adobe. New terms of the agreement are underlined.

Previous iterations of the collective agreement and tentative agreement can be found on the Archive page at https://bcchs.cupe.ca.

It is the intention of the bargaining association to make printed collective agreements available to our members, with the process and timelines to do so to be determined. We will circulate an additional bulletin once printed copies are available.

Your CUPE Health Care Presidents Council

Call for Expression of Interest: EDMP representative

BURNABY—A temporary opportunity is available for CUPE and Professional Employees Association (PEA) members to serve as the Enhanced Disability Management Program (EDMP) representative.

The EDMP rep plays an active role in assisting members of PEA and CUPE within the Health Sciences Professionals and Community Bargaining Associations who are referred into the program. The position starts on January 1, 2021.

Full details can be found here.

CUPE Health Care Presidents Council calls on members to help re-elect BC NDP government

BURNABY—CUPE members in Community Health can see first-hand the impact of a B.C. government that values our public health care system. Since 2017, the BC NDP under Premier John Horgan have consistently demonstrated their commitment to the public services we all rely on. With the Horgan government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in particular, the BC NDP have led the country in promoting public health while recognizing the importance of frontline health care workers who provide those critical services and keep the public safe.

This record stands in stark contrast to that of the BC Liberal Party, whose record while in government showed contempt both for you as public sector employees and for our public health care system as a whole. Among other things, the BC Liberals tore up contracts, slashed budgets, laid off health care workers, and left the rest of you with unmanageable workloads. For these reasons, CUPE’s Health Care Presidents Council is calling on CUPE members in Community Health to get active during the last two weeks prior to Election Day on October 24 and help re-elect the BC NDP government.

First of all, don’t forget to vote. There are options for physically distant voting in advance of E-Day. For information on how to vote, visit www.elections.bc.ca. There are many solid candidates running where you live and work, including Adrian Dix in Kingsway and Jennifer Whiteside in New Westminster. Adrian’s work as Health Minister during the pandemic, and Jennifer’s advocacy for public health care as secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union, have been outstanding. CUPE also has members or former staff running as BC NDP candidates, including incumbent MLAs Rachna Singh in Surrey-Green Timbers and Lisa Beare in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, as well as candidates Sylvia Lindgren in Shuswap, Cory Longley in Peace River South, Bryn Smith in Surrey-White Rock, and Dan Coulter in Chilliwack.

As well as voting for the NDP candidate in your constituency, you can make a difference by volunteering on a campaign and by sharing the BC NDP platform with your friends and family. With your support, we can continue the positive work the BC NDP has done to strengthen our public health care system for all British Columbians.

In solidarity,

CUPE’s Health Care Presidents Council

Update regarding temporary pandemic pay

Greetings to CUPE Community Health Sector members,

RE: Update regarding payment of province’s Temporary Pandemic Pay

We wish to inform you that the provincial government has updated the information on its Temporary Pandemic Pay website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/covid-19-provincial-support/temporary-pandemic-pay.

Of note, the website now states: “Eligible employees will begin to see temporary pandemic pay reflected on their paycheques in October. The timing for payments is dependent in part on the claim accuracy and when it is submitted for validation.”

We have also been informed that the temporary pandemic pay should be paid for overtime hours worked during the eligible period of March 15-July 4, 2020.

Sincerely,

Chris Losito
CUPE National Representative

CUPE 1004 members at Portland Hotel Society to join community health sector

Shift to CBA wage grid offers boost for health workers on front line of opioid, housing crises

VANCOUVER—An agreement reached between the PHS Community Services Society, the Health Employers Association of BC, and CUPE 1004 will this week see approximately 600 CUPE health services and support workers at PHS shift from their Local Collective Agreement to an existing contract in the community health sector—a move that, with wage protection or improvements in every classification, should help restore dignity and respect for frontline staff who provide critical services for vulnerable populations.

Effective October 1, these workers’ Collective Agreement rights will fall under the Community Subsector Association of Bargaining Agents (CBA) contract, which runs from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2022. All wage adjustments and general increases of the CBA Collective Agreement, retroactive to April 2019, will thus take effect for PHS CUPE 1004 members.

PHS runs 19 supportive housing and shelter buildings and also operates several safe drug consumption sites in Vancouver and Victoria. These CUPE members— mental health, outreach and home support workers, medical and dental assistants, and food service workers—work on the frontline of the opioid, the housing, and the homelessness crises. The daily challenges of their work have been further complicated by COVID-19.

“This melding of our contract to the CBA agreement is a major development for our Local. It represents significant gains for our members at the PHS,” said CUPE 1004 President Andrew Ledger.

“It really couldn’t come at a better time, given the challenges so many of our members have been facing during the pandemic. Bringing these members into the CBA agreement shows respect for their vital contributions to frontline health care services.”

In addition to the annual 2 per-cent-general wage increases for members in the community health sector, the CBA wage grid was recently adjusted to reflect low wage redress in moving the community subsector to parity with facilities. The classifications, wage rates and increment steps were determined through negotiation and the final recommendations of Mediators Vince Ready and Amanda Rogers.

The new MOA does not apply to PHS workers who are in CUPE 1936 or to CUPE 1004 nurse and paramedical professionals. The CUPE 1936 and 1004 collective agreements continue to apply to those employees, whose transition remains in process between the parties and the Mediators.

By joining the community health sector, PHS CUPE 1004 members will also fall under the representative umbrella of the CUPE Health Care Presidents Council (HCPC), which works to build a coordinated approach in addressing common causes for all CUPE community health workers. Through the HCPC, members benefit from coordinated bargaining, conferences for setting contract priorities, and sector-specific educational and member support opportunities.

Categories CBA

Local health sector activists brush up on shop stewarding, notetaking skills

BURNABY—Even during the pandemic, educational opportunities for union activists in community health don’t all have to be on Zoom. On September 24 and 25, eight CUPE members from Locals 15, 1004, 1978 and 4816 took advantage of physically distant space at the B.C. regional office to take combined workshops for CUPE’s Introduction to Shop Stewarding and Notetaking.

The sessions, facilitated by CUPE Health coordinator Chris Losito, were specifically tailored to the two health sector collective agreements CUPE works with, the HSPBA and CBA. Members reviewed the collective agreements while discussing the complicated structure of the sector and relationships with employers and the HEABC.

Final deadline notice – Complete the survey: HSPBA job classification redesign

NOTICE TO CUPE COMMUNITY HEALTH MEMBERS UNDER HSPBA CONTRACT

Final deadline notice: Your participation needed in classification redesign survey

As part of the 2019-2022 collective agreement, the Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association (HSPBA) and Health Employers Association of BC (HEABC) established a working group to continue the work of modernizing the HSPBA Classification System. The purpose is to address anomalies and regularize a number of professions and professional practice issues that have developed in a changing health care system.

A total of $10 million was negotiated to fund the first steps of a wholesale restructuring of the classification system to address decades-old inequities in job categories.

Phased in over three years, the agreement is to make changes to the classification system that will address existing inequities, improve recruitment and retention, and support the government’s modernizing of health care delivery in the province, including the creation of community-based, multidisciplinary health care teams.

The next step of the joint committee’s work is to assess the circumstances of members’ jobs that may be affected by the next steps of the modernization project as outlined in provisions (r), (s), and (t) of Appendix A of the Memorandum of Agreement re HSPBA Classification Redesign – Interim Agreement. (Reference: Page 83 of the summary of changes to the HSPBA collective agreement.)

Members are asked to complete a survey to the best of their ability so that the union has the best information available in matching job functions to the appropriate classification and rate of pay.

Information gathered by CUPE is secure and will be used to establish correct classification and wage rates for members in jobs captured by this phase of the classification redesign.

Deadline for completion of the survey is midnight, September 14, 2020.

Please access the survey here.

For further information, please contact CUPE Health coordinator Chris Losito at closito@cupe.ca.