For Immediate Release – March 18, 2015
Regina – Members and leaders of the Service Employees International Union West (SEIU-West) were at the Legislature today for the release of the provincial budget. Ever hopeful that the budget would significantly improve the lives of Saskatchewan working families, there was a collective sense of dismay in hearing the forecast for the upcoming year.
“The budget presented today will inevitably lead to widespread cuts in the health sector,” said Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West. “We don’t yet know which services will be affected by the 40% cut to regional programs or the 5% cut to provincial targeted programs, but the amounts are large and the quality and availability of service to Saskatchewan families will certainly suffer.”
SEIU-West, as an advocate for safe staffing levels in long term care, shares the growing public concern around seniors care. “The senior care initiatives in today’s budget do nothing to ensure safe staffing,” added Cape. “The pilot project for Five Hills and Saskatoon health regions claims to offer seniors and families more choice, but in reality, it seems tailored to the privatization of home care services, without an acknowledgement of the need for public oversight and compliance. We are cautiously optimistic about the enhancement to the Home First Quick Response program, but are concerned that our affiliated health regions will not able to address unsafe staffing levels when their annual budgets are increased by only 1 to 2 %.”
“Health care funding is at a critical level,” continued Cape. “With the expiration of the Canada Health Accord in 2014, what is our province’s plan for delivering health care services when Saskatchewan is receiving $100 million less from the federal government? This budget does not instil any confidence that a plan is in place.”
SEIU-West is encouraged by the province’s funding lift for disability-focused Community Based Organizations. Yet, we are troubled by the nearly one million dollars of cuts to organizations serving children and families.
“We had hoped that more provincial dollars would be directed to increasing the number of staff in the education sector,” continued Cape. “It seems the lion’s share of the new funds will be directed to the announced P3 projects. The small increase in funding for day-to-day school operations is a huge disappointment for parents, their children, and our members who have seen cuts to positions such as Education Assistants and Library Technicians.” Education sector workers provide professional support services in schools for students and those with special needs in the classroom.
“Overall in Saskatchewan, our families, children, seniors and our workers deserve better from their government,” Cape added.
SEIU-West represents more than 13,000 Saskatchewan workers in health care, education, municipalities, community-based organizations, retirement homes and other sectors.
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For more information, contact:
Christine Miller, Communications Coordinator
Phone: 306.652.1011 ext. 8733
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