Greetings fellow CUPE 1975 members,
If you are reading this it means that you have accessed our new website. I’m very pleased with the way it has turned out and want to thank all of those on the Communication Committee who made it happen. Beth and Amy’s knowledge on the tech side of this has been exceptional. Lara’s organizational skills and leadership has been extraordinary. Heather’s ability to co-ordinate all the pieces has been a key part of the process and Sam’s ideas for content has been inspiring. It is a work in progress, and we felt it was important to roll it out along with the new email addresses for our Executive members who support you. There may be glitches but the committee is dedicated to solving any and all of the website site issues that we encounter.
I am hearing that more buildings will be opening up on campus in the next few months and with it more of our CUPE brothers and sisters will be returning to work. In the meetings I have been in, the University is hoping to have more students back for the fall term but are still thinking that we won’t see a full compliment of students on campus until January of 2022. It has been conveyed to us that different colleges will have different percentages of students back in September. As the students return to campus, we will see more of our co-workers back at work. The University, along with other organizations, are cautious about a possible 3rd wave of COVID. We are learning more each day about different variants of the COVID strain, and I urge all of you to receive your vaccinations and continue the same practices we have had to do over the last year to ensure your safety and the ones you interact with. It has been shared with us that there will be a requirement upon returning to campus to continue wearing a mask for the foreseeable future. This will not change with the province’s re-open plans. This is for your safety and the safety of your loved ones and those on campus. Please respect this so we don’t have to experience another year like the previous one.
Your Bargaining Committee continues to meet with the University to work on a new Collective Agreement. We have two more sessions planned and then we will break for the summer months. Most people will take some vacation during the summer months and its difficult, if not impossible, to get everyone at the table during this time. I feel we have worked through a number of language issues and will be progressing into the monetary items in the fall. These sessions are held “in camera” and so we are not able to share much information at this stage.
There have been many disturbing findings at residential schools in Canada in the past month. These are heart wrenching to me. I suspect we will see more graves discovered in the upcoming weeks, months, and years. As a father, I cannot imagine someone taking my children away from me and the impact it would have on myself, my spouse, and my children. At a CUPE convention a few years ago, we heard Justice Murray Sinclair speak about the Truth and Reconciliation Report. We were shown interviews with some of the survivors of the residential school system. Their lives were taken away from them. They never recovered from the trauma they suffered. Many of them fell into the addiction cycle as they tried to self medicate. The report generated by the committee has still to this day only accomplished approximately half of the recommendations that they hoped to achieve. Many of these recommendations have no monetary component attached to them. It has taken too long for people to acknowledge and support those who went through this. These schools continue to exist until well into the 1990’s.
One of the initiatives our Executive has committed to doing over the next few years is to align ourselves with the Canadian Mental Health Association (“CMHC”). I personally have seen the struggle that many of our members and people we know have experienced in the past year. The stats that were provided to us at a meeting were that, at any one time, 1 in 5 people in Canada will experience some degree of mental illness. In the past year, with the pressures of this pandemic, that number has risen to more like 3 or 4 out of 5 people. What has been shared with me from people who have sought our help in the past year is that you will receive approximately 6 sessions with an EAP councillor as part of your benefits package but afterwards you have to seek out a therapist externally. What I have been told is that there are only about a dozen therapists within Saskatoon and many of them are not taking new patients.
Our local has contributed to many charitable organizations over the years, however, we have never become dedicated to one organization. Our intent is not to discontinue supporting the other organizations we have in the past but to direct some resources to the CMHA Saskatoon branch going forward. Many of the challenges people develop occur in their teens and when they are attending post secondary school. Our hope is to bring more awareness to the challenges of mental health and show support for those who are experiencing it. Our Executive does not see the solution to this as being simply to write a cheque to the CMHA. We feel we need to work with the CMHA to develop more awareness and support for those who are experiencing it. We have been told that many of the claims that our members are on, STD and LTD, could be the result of a mental health aspect. The example we were provided with was that you could fall off a ladder and where previously it was considered an accident, now it is questioned whether it occurred because there was something happening in your life that lowered your focus on the task you were trying to accomplish.
In closing, I would like to wish you all a pleasant summer. Winter in Saskatchewan is long, and summer feels too short. I don’t think anyone of us has gone unscathed going through this pandemic. Job loss, financial insecurity, health issues, mental health issues and other factors have made the past year challenging at best and life changing at worst for some. There hasn’t been enough laughter and time with our friends and families. Enjoy your summer. Cross something off on your bucket list. Be kind to others. Simple acts of kindness can impact others more than we ever know.
President, CUPE 1975
Room 21, McLean Hall
106 Wiggins Road
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E6