December 8, 2016
Resistance of Teachers and Education
Workers in Nova Scotia
All Out to Defeat the Vicious Anti-Social
Offensive Which Targets Teachers, Education Workers and Public Education
Teachers' rally in Halifax, December 6, 2016.
Resistance of Teachers and Education
Workers in Nova Scotia
All Out to Defeat the Vicious Anti-Social Offensive
Which Targets Teachers, Education Workers
and Public Education
Teachers rally in Yarmouth, December 6, 2016.
As a result of the resistance of teachers and education
workers in Nova Scotia, joined by other working people and students,
the Liberal government of Stephen McNeil has backed down on its threats
to pass legislation to impose contracts on teachers who are beginning a
work-to-rule campaign by withdrawing voluntary extra-curricular
activities. The government has also been forced to back down on its
threat to lock students out of school while debating this legislation.
On December 5 when the government and school boards locked students out
of school, parents and students rallied at the Legislature in Halifax.
Even when the government backed down, large rallies of teachers joined
by other working people were held in Halifax, Yarmouth and Antigonish
the following day, reiterating the demand: Negotiate, Don't Dictate!
Students and parents rally in support of teachers, December 5, 2016.
Teachers' resistance in Nova Scotia is taking place at a
time teachers and education workers across the country are resisting
attacks on their rights. The Liberal majority government in Nova Scotia
has joined those in Ontario, BC and Quebec in looking for new ways to
impose a fraudulent austerity agenda whose aim is to pay the rich,
under the hoax of high ideals. The resistance of working people has put
a spoke in their wheels time and again and the battle continues.
Teachers rally in Antigonish, December 6, 2016.
The recent British Columbia
Supreme Court ruling against the BC Liberals and similar ruling against
the Ontario Liberals on their use of Bill 115 (the 2012 "Putting
Students First Act") reaffirmed that governments are operating outside
the law in attacking the wages and working conditions of teachers and
education workers. The resistance of the teachers and education workers
to this dictate and their resulting victories in the courts means that
the threats of the Nova Scotia Liberals are seen to be all the more
illegitimate. Teachers and education workers are firm: Negotiate, Don't
The McNeil government's threats have not achieved their aim of getting
the teachers to capitulate, especially on how they will use their
voluntary labour, and it must now resort to more desperate measures. It
is the resistance of the teachers, education workers, students and
parents that expose the real aims of the anti-social offensive to
privatize education to benefit the rich. The experience across the
country shows the necessity to step up the fight for the rights of all
on this front of life as well.
Ontario and BC governments have been concocting schemes
"legally" what they could not "illegally." This takes the form of
pushing teachers and education workers to give up their rights
"voluntarily" through what is called negotiation. Following Liberal
government defeats in major court cases, these governments are now
taking negotiations over remedies to teachers as an opportunity to
quell teachers and education workers' resistance and eliminate their
ability to say No!
BC teachers send message of solidarity to Nova Scotia teachers.
In Ontario, the Wynne Liberal government wants
elementary and secondary teachers and education workers' unions to
negotiate extensions to their province-wide collective agreements,
rather than through standard collective bargaining. With these moves
the government is seeking to forestall an open fight with teachers and
education workers before the provincial election currently scheduled
for October 2018. By extending
contracts the government wants the provincial education unions to
relinquish the right to local bargaining between school boards and
local unions "voluntarily" with the promise of "gains." Eliminating
local bargaining and undermining locally-elected unions and
school boards was one of the main aims of the McGuinty Liberal
government's Bill 115, which gave the Minister of Education broad
arbitrary powers to interfere in or override local negotiations and
During the fight against
Bill 115 in 2012, the Ontario Labour Relations Board was used to
criminalize workers' resistance by ruling that the coordinated
withdrawal of extracurricular activities by teachers and education
workers constituted an illegal strike. The Nova Scotia Liberals'
attempt to do the same through the legislature has been blocked,
and they will now seek other avenues to attack teachers, education
workers, students and parents.
Workers' Forum expresses confidence that the
determination of teachers and
education workers to defend their own rights also defends the rights of
Canadians to a system
of public education worthy of a modern Canada. Teachers, education
parents and students in Nova Scotia make their province and all
1. The Liberals have
indicated intentions to reschedule the
Ontario election to June 2018,
which would put it close to the August 2017 expiry of province-wide
contracts for teachers
and education workers.
Government Forced to Back Down
Halifax, December 6, 2016.
Two days after the Nova Scotia Liberal government gave
notice on Saturday, December 3 that it would recall the legislature to
impose contracts on teachers, the resistance of teachers, education
workers and students forced it to back down. The swiftness of the
reversal, the unity of working people and the panic that broke out in
the ranks of the Nova Scotia Liberals shows the acute legitimacy crisis
in which the anti-social offensive and austerity agenda are mired.
Along with imposing contracts, the government
threatened to lock students out of schools beginning Monday, December 5
under the pretext of "ensuring students' safety." On this it also had
to back down, announcing that the schools would be open on Tuesday,
December 6. Large numbers of students had showed up to schools on
December 5, defying the order. Also instrumental in blocking the school
closures were the many parents and students who protested alongside
teachers at the Nova Scotia legislature. Parents laid the blame
squarely on the government and refused to blame teachers, who they
recognize are defending students' learning conditions. For example, a
Facebook group called Nova Scotia Parents for Teachers has more than
17,000 members and is actively discussing how to oppose the
Students and parents rally in support of teachers, December 5, 2016.
The government backing down also comes in the context
of the decisions of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) to initiate a
work-to-rule campaign on December 5 as part of negotiations for a new
collective agreement. The work-to-rule action means that teachers are
following the existing collective agreement and not taking on
additional unpaid and extracurricular duties. The union had given the
government one week's notice, rather than the required 72 hours, for
the work-to-rule action in order to ensure that the government, school
boards and families could make adequate arrangements.
NTSU President Liette Doucet explained that the teachers have
"determined that limiting our work will help to demonstrate the scope
of activities that teachers do for students that go above and beyond,
and those that prevent them from directly teaching students. Voluntary
extra-curricular activities and scheduled field trips will not continue
during this job action. ...public school members will not arrive early
or stay late after the instructional day; complete clerical duties;
complete data collection and entry; or attend meetings non-essential to
lesson planning and implementation."
Public Sector Unions Stand As One
The fight of Nova Scotia teachers was taken up by other
sector workers dealing with the same attacks from the government. The
Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union President, Jason
MacLean said, "First, the Premier of this province made a mess out of
our health care system, and now, he's moved on to meddle
with our public education system and is locking kids out of their own
schools. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with the Nova Scotia
Teachers Union to oppose Stephen McNeil's ongoing assault against
public sector workers' rights." The news release added: "In coming
days, we may be forced to ask our members to take unprecedented action
against this government. We are asking all 31,000 of our members
prepared to stand up when the time comes."
Nurses stand with teachers, December 6, 2016.
Canadian Union of Public Employees (Nova Scotia)
McFadgen issued a statement stating: "Imposing a collective agreement
on our teachers is undemocratic. Bill 75 is thinly veiled union
legislation that will not withstand legal scrutiny." She pointed out
that while Bill 75 may specifically target teachers, "it
signals the end of fair collective bargaining in Nova Scotia."
"Our members support the rights of teachers to bargain
they are upset that children have been made pawns by a government that
refuses to respect workers' rights in this province. Never before has
our provincial government attacked unions like this.
"CUPE Nova Scotia will fight to safeguard our right to
bargain and we call on CUPE members to do the same. We are asking
our 19,000 members to be ready to participate as never before.
Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny
"This Liberal government's choices will see all taxpayers pay a hefty
price for these bad decisions if it imposes a contract on the teachers.
The recent BC Supreme Court decision was a clear victory for BC's
teachers, when it declared as unconstitutional and invalid the
legislation that stripped teachers of collective bargaining rights
"We have trusted our teachers for more then 100
years in this
province when it comes to our kids, their education and safety and this
government must start listening to teachers, parents and students --
the only way to improve the conditions in classrooms and our education
system is to return to the bargaining table and work out a
In December 2015 the Nova Scotia Liberal
passed Bill 148, the Public Services Sustainability Act. Under
the hoax of guaranteeing the
sustainability of public services, Bill 148 attacks those who
provide the services. It
imposes a ceiling on wage increases for all provincial public sector
workers of 0 per cent, 0
per cent, 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent per year over four years and 0.5
per cent on the last day
of the contract. If negotiations end up in arbitration, the bill binds
the arbitrator to these
parameters in terms of wage increases. Despite the bill's passage the
government has yet to
enact the legislation, preferring instead to use it as a threat hanging
over public sector
workers' heads. However, the threat is not working.
Public school teachers have thus far rejected two
tentative agreements negotiated between the government and the Nova
Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) since this round of negotiations opened on
September 29, 2015. In the most recent vote, 70 per cent of NSTU
members rejected the latest tentative agreement. The vote reflected
teachers' refusal to accept government dictate in negotiations. In
spite of fears that the rejection might provoke the government to enact
the anti-worker legislation, on October 25 the union reported that 96
per cent of the 9,300 public school members of the NTSU voted in favour
of job action.
NSTU president Liette Doucet says that teachers are
more quality time with students. "Teachers haven't been genuinely
consulted in government decisions affecting classrooms and schools and
as a result we are spending less time doing the things that matter most
to students." She also says free and fair collective bargaining and
maintaining benefits are important. "With Bill 148, a negotiated
benefit has been taken away, along with our ability to negotiate a fair
and reasonable salary package. Teachers go above and beyond to ensure
student needs are met, and we want to be valued and recognized by
government for our contribution."
On November 17, the union and the government entered
conciliation, however the union indicated that it was not giving up its
plans for job action. When talks broke down on November 25 it announced
the job action would commence on Monday, December 5.
1. See Worker's Forum October 13, 2016.
Quebec Federation of Labour Holds
Triennial Convention in Montreal
Delegates Speak Passionately in Favour of
Campaigns that Defend the Rights of All
The 31st Constitutional Congress of the Quebec
Federation of Labour
(FTQ) was held in Montreal from November 28 to December 2.
largest union central in Quebec, with approximately 600,000
about 60 per cent of whom are from all the major sectors of
were 809 registered delegates, 578 men and 231 women,
coming from 229
locals, 12 regional councils and 28 affiliated unions.
observers, guests and media representatives, the total number of people
attending the Congress was about 1100. Daniel Boyer and Serge
were re-elected by
acclamation as President and General Secretary of the federation.
The theme of the Congress was "Shaping the Future
Together" and the
two main sub-themes were the fight against social inequalities and
climate change and the transition to a green economy including
transition with respect to jobs. The Congress held commissions on the
issue of social inequalities and adopted a plan of action to that
and it also adopted a policy statement on climate change entitled
"Change Quebec, not Climate." The program of the FTQ is to hold a
"social dialogue" with the government. This is why it demands better
labour laws while workers are forced to deal with the reality of the
need to defeat the attacks against them through the laws that are
already being enacted fast and furious. This is also why on the agenda
of the FTQ's social dialogue, delegates from industrial and other
sectors and the regions remained silent, but spoke eloquently on the
necessity to uphold the rights of all on all fronts where the attacks
are taking place.
Social inequalities are the result of the unequal
the resources of society among its members, the FTQ said. This
explanation fails to analyze the cause of social inequalities, which is
the economic, political and social system based on exploitation and
oppression. It merely blames the political choices made by those in
which, according to the FTQ, create unequal access not only to income,
but also to jobs, health, education, political decisions, etc. On this
basis, the FTQ channels the various struggles of the workers and the
people into a general declaration against social inequalities and makes
this the basis of its calls which seek to induce governments to adopt
laws and put in place policies that reduce inequalities.
Policy objectives put before the Convention on this
issue by the
FTQ include the fight against tax evasion and tax havens, calls for
massive reinvestment of government in health, education and social
services, and labour laws which would "ensure a better balance between
workers and trade unions and employers and governments."
On the issue of climate change, the FTQ called on the
implement an appropriate transition to a green economy that ensures the
quality of the environment while not penalizing workers and their
jobs.The FTQ took up the call for the government to establish an
industrial strategy which, among other things, assesses the impacts of
greenhouse gas reduction measures on industries, provides businesses
with financial support during the period of transition, increases the
transformation through secondary manufacturing of natural resources
etc. As in the case of the statement on social inequalities, the policy
paper does not give recognition to the struggles the working people are
waging against specific projects the oligopolies are putting forward
which harm the environment and the security of the communities and do
not consult impacted communities.
In this vein, one of the themes that permeated the
Congress is what
is called the political action of the FTQ to build alliances with other
trade unions and other organizations to achieve the desired legislative
or regulatory changes. This political action also aims at ensuring the
defeat of the Liberal government of Philippe Couillard in
the 2018 general election.
The spirited interventions of the workers on
resolutions called for
the development of campaigns in which the FTQ puts all its weight
behind defending those who are attacked in order to defeat the
offensive against the affirmation of the workers' rights. This included
an emergency resolution presented by the Montreal Blue Collar Union to
demand the repeal of the anti-labour Bill 24 (formerly
Bill 110), which
is an attack on municipal workers and their right to negotiate their
working conditions so as to serve narrow private interests (see
interview with union president in this issue). The resolution asks the
officers of the FTQ to meet the opposition parties in the
National Assembly to get them to commit to repeal this regressive law
once in power. Several workers intervened to say that this law cannot
be considered a fait accompli that workers have to live with. They
reject the law, even though it has been passed, as an attack on all
workers. This demands a response from all workers regardless of the
union they belong to, delegates said.
A vigorous discussion took place on the resolution
calling for the
minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour. Such a wage is a bare
for workers to just meet their basic needs under present conditions,
delegates pointed out. Health care and textile workers spoke on the
phenomenon of the working poor who are found
everywhere and even, in ever increasing numbers, in unionized sectors.
For example, workers who work in privatized health services such as
seniors' care are working hard to attend to the needs of the seniors
and do so out of dedication to vulnerable members of society, but are
treated in an undignified way with respect to the low wages and
working conditions that are not commensurate with the work they do.
Women workers who organize amongst these workers spoke powerfully about
their efforts to organize to immediately improve their conditions so
that they live and work in dignity.
Delegates also spoke eloquently on the resolution
demanding the end
of two-tier working conditions, in particular as regards pension funds,
by which newly hired workers have to work side by side with their older
co-workers under very inferior conditions. Delegates showed their
appreciation for workers at Ciment Lafarge who waged a
successful three-month strike to block the imposition of a defined
contribution pension plan for new hires, as well as the efforts of
workers in other workplaces to block similar efforts. Several young
people spoke of this struggle as an important battle for the very
defence of trade unions themselves.
Delegates spoke passionately on the resolution calling
immediate end to the strangulation of public early childhood care
through cuts and privatization. The resolution called for an immediate
end to privatization and cuts in services and a massive reinvestment in
the network of Early Childhood Centres (see interview with a CPE worker
in this issue). Delegates made it clear that it is unacceptable that
child welfare be transformed into a profit machine and that the
advances for women that have resulted from the establishment of public
care for young children must be defended and expanded.
Throughout the convention, lively interventions pressed
practical campaigns which put the full weight of the FTQ behind the
defence of workers who are under attack and uphold the rights of all so
as to defeat the anti-social offensive of the rich and their
governments. Without such a fight, society's path to progress will
shut posing great dangers to the well-being of the people as well as
harm to the natural environment.
Montreal Blue Collar Workers
"Everyone Must Stand
Together No Matter What Union You Belong To"
Chantal Racette is President of the Syndicat des
cols bleus regroupés de Montréal
Photo of Montreal blue collar workers posted to Local's facebook page.
Workers' Forum: The FTQ Congress
adopted an emergency resolution submitted by the Montreal blue collar
workers calling for the repeal of Bill 24 (formerly Bill 110)
municipal workers. The law incorporates the special law which decrees
working conditions into the municipal sector
labor relations system, violating the right of the municipal workers to
negotiate their working conditions. The Montreal blue collar workers
have been calling for the withdrawal of this legislation from the
outset. Can you tell us more about that?
Chantal Racette: The Syndicat des
regroupés de Montréal is Local 301 of the Canadian
Union of Public
Employees and we first intervened at the CUPE's National Convention in
Vancouver in November 2015 which passed an emergency resolution
for the bill to be withdrawn. We did this
because, in our opinion, this law takes us back 50 years, to the
detriment of the hard battles that our predecessors have won. Although
the bill has been amended, as far as our union is concerned the
amendments do not make that bill acceptable. It must be withdrawn.
Our union has 24 collective agreements and also has
plans. Anybody who has
ever negotiated knows that it's inconceivable to negotiate a
collective agreement in
150 days unless you have an employer that always says yes, and that's
not happening (the
law requires the appointment of a mediator by the Minister of Municipal
Affairs if there is no
agreement on the 150th day following the start of the legal strike
period, which triggers the
process leading to decree of the working conditions -- Ed note).
To give an example, just for Montreal, there was a time, when
Jean Lapierre was the
president of the union, when it took 54 months of negotiations to come
to an agreement. With
legislation such as this, municipal workers will have to limit
negotiations and they will ultimately pay the price. At some point,
everyone must stand up;
you advance; you defend your members. We, the blue collar union, are
used to doing things
like that and we will continue to act in this way.
We are asking for the
complete withdrawal of the law. We fought
hard against the previous legislation that attacked our pension plans.
We should have been together, all the workers in Quebec, defending the
pension plans in the municipal sector. We saw it right here in the FTQ
Convention with the case of Brault and Martineau and Ciment
Lafarge where the employer attacked the pension plan. When the
employers or the government want to make a major attack on a particular
issue, first they take on the bigger target and then they extend their
attacks to others. You have to stand, everybody together, no matter
what union you belong to.
WF: How do you see the impact this
law will have on the blue collar workers in Montreal?
CR: Currently we have a job floor in
gives us a minimum of union jobs. I think this is going to be their
next target. The city already contracts out more of our jobs
externally. For example, they have given many of our security officer
jobs to a non-profit organization called the Canadian Corps of
Commissionaires which happens to be headed by the former director of
the Police Department of the City of Montreal!
We are going through a situation where our jobs are
disappearing, whether it's snow removal, garbage collection, sidewalk
so on. Take the case of the large French multinational company
Derichebourg, which has already been sued for collusion and corruption,
and to which the city has awarded three waste collection
contracts in the boroughs. Before, with respect to waste at the City of
Montreal, it was about 50-50 between internal and external jobs.
lost a lot in the recent period. With Bill 24, it will be much
for the City of Montreal to send our jobs to the private sector.
WF: Do you want to add anything
CR: The blue collar workers reflect
the society in
which we live. We are more than 6,000 workers and with the
are more than 11,000. We are here to provide a service to the
not to fill our pockets. Citizens need to be aware of this. The media
slanders us to push people to celebrate if we
take a beating. Take the Charbonneau Commission, the inquiry into the
granting and administration of government contracts in the construction
industry. It seems to have already been forgotten. If city work had
been done by the blue collar workers, contractors and politicians would
not have filled their pockets with our money.
Early Childhood Education Workers
"We Are Calling for a Halt to Cuts and Privatization
and Reinvestment in the Network"
Sonia Charette is an early childhood education
worker and Vice-President of United Steelworkers Local 9291
One day strike by Quebec day care workers, July 7, 2014.
Workers' Forum: During the FTQ Congress
several early childhood workers denounced the suffocation of the Early
Childhood Centres (CPE) and the privatization of the network and called
for immediate corrective measures. Can you tell us more about the
situation in the network?
Sonia Charette: The privatization
childhood centres started with the tax credits that are given to those
who attend private daycares. On a weekly basis this is more expensive
for parents, but when they file their tax return with the tax credit
they are entitled to they realize that it costs them less to send their
child to a
private daycare than to a CPE. The problem has been amplified with the
modulation of services. Now, parents pay according to income. If they
earn more than $50,000 they can pay up to $20 per day for a
the CPE. We have parents who had to borrow to pay for the service with
the modulation of services, so they found that it
was more advantageous to go to private day care because of the tax
credit. Currently there is a recall list to recall children when there
are vacancies. This is a central list for Quebec, and there is no
recall list for CPE, it is completely emptied. The parents have gone to
the private sector.
It is a deliberate policy of the government. Since the
have been in power, they cut services so parents have had enough and
are wondering why they would pay more when services have been cut. Our
CPE is almost 40 years old, and we were always proud to say that
integrate children with special needs. We cannot do it
anymore because it takes a surplus educator to take care of these
children and we can no longer afford a surplus educator.
In the last 10 years $330 million has been
cut from the CPE
network. The government had announced that for next year there would be
another cut of $120 million but at the moment they are in
mode so maybe they will not apply this cut. We have already used all
our means; for example we have accepted a
reopening of the collective agreement; all the educators, including the
boss, have put their shoulders to the wheel doing one hour of volunteer
work. We do the same number of hours as before but on our pay we get
paid an hour less to save the children and buy some material for the
CPE with our own money.
The goal is clearly to privatize services. Parents
complain and we have a hard time surviving, and the places we lose in
CPE are offered to the private sector. In percentage terms, in the past
3 years there has been a jump of 1300 per cent in places awarded to the
private sector and there has not been an increase in the CPE. Private
daycares are less supervised. They are not governed by the same laws
and regulations and do not have the same standards. We are obliged to
have trained educators at a ratio of 2 to 3 in place, that is to say
two out of three educators who have technical training in early
childhood education. The private sector does not have these
From the point of view of working conditions, we feel
that we are
going back 25 years. We had a good pension plan and we are in
negotiations now and we are threatened with losing our defined benefit
plan for a defined contribution plan. In all of this, it is the
children who are the biggest losers.
WF: What are the demands of early
SC: We are calling for the
government to end the
cuts and make significant reinvestments in the Early Childhood Centres.
Minimally, we are calling for it to immediately reinvest the money it
makes with the modulation of services in the network. We also call for
the government to stop privatizing the network. The creation
of the Early Childhood Centres marked a great advance in the lives of
women, allowing them to leave the house and go to work, and it also put
an end to the terrible black market in childcare where women were
working underground without receipts, looking after 10 or 15
We must not allow this progress to be wiped
The Fight Against Inferior Working Conditions
for Young Workers
"Young People Must Get Involved, That Is the Key
Vincent Barrette is a young worker at the CEZinc
Refinery in Valleyfield, Quebec and a member of United Steelworkers
The FTQ Congress passed a
resolution against collective agreement
clauses which create disparity of treatment between workers, mainly
with respect to pension plans. There is a lot of pressure from
employers in unionized workplaces in Quebec to put new workers on a
defined contribution pension plan rather than being part of the defined
benefit pension plan to which the other workers belong. The defined
benefit plan we have at CEZinc. is fully funded by the employer while a
defined contribution plan would be funded jointly by the employee and
the employer. We calculated that if we had a two-tier pension plan, a
worker on a DC plan would have to pay about the equivalent of
a lifetime home payment to get a pension similar to mine.
years, people who have been hired at CEZinc have been mostly young
people between the ages of 18 and 35. There is a renewal of
workforce at the moment, especially with many older workers retiring.
Last year, it was calculated that 15 per cent of our workforce
had fewer than five years of experience at the plant. Most of these
young people aged 35 and under. Over the next five years, there
a turnover of another 35 per cent. We know that there is a wave of
who are coming, so we have to give ourselves the means to ensure fair
and equitable working conditions for all
The disparity in treatment in pension plans creates an
new employees who arrive in our industries, who are not entitled to the
same employment benefits as those who are already there. One of the
fundamental principles of trade unionism is mobilization in order to be
able to wage an effective struggle to maintain a balance of power
with the employer. For that, your members must be behind you. Opening
the door to disparities in treatment in our collective agreements
breaks this balance of power. It is difficult to mobilize members who
already feel when they arrive that they are not represented by the
union because they are not entitled to the same benefits as other
In addition, disparity of treatment in collective agreements does not
only apply to pension plans, but can apply to all benefits.
Steelworkers are fighting
against disparities in treatment. Steelworkers from the cement factory
Ciment Lafarge went on a three-month strike last winter so that new
workers would have the same benefits they do. In industrial workplaces,
improvements in working conditions have been won through hard fights
and it takes a hard fight to keep them. There are health and safety
issues that are very big because of the products we work with. I work
with antimony, which can have fatal effects if it is inhaled. There is
manganese, which causes Parkinson's disease. It is not for nothing that
we have good working conditions and we have earned them dearly.
Steelworkers have a motto that one does not want to leave behind for
others less than what one has achieved. The resolution that passed
yesterday tells all employers that, across all affiliates of the FTQ,
two-tier clauses are not acceptable. I would feel bad doing a job
alongside someone who does not have the same working conditions. To
fight for a defined benefit pension plan is to fight to ensure that
people who are coming feel included in the union.
Young workers must get involved, that is the key thing.
take their place so that the workplaces are revitalized. That place
exists. The unions, the affiliates of the FTQ, want to make room for
the young people, so it is important that young workers push a bit. Be
active in your workplaces, look after your interests because otherwise
the companies will do it and it will not be to your advantage. We have
the working conditions we have because we fought for them. It's up to
young workers to take their place so that this place will not be left
vacant, so that it cannot be taken by insidious means by the employers
who will exert a stranglehold on the unions. Do not open the door
to that. Young people must take their place in their unions, on the
work floor, everywhere, to build a strong trade union movement that
ensures intergenerational equity.
Sale of Seniors' Care Facilities
No to Foreign Ownership of Seniors' Care!
Yes to Public Control and Modern Seniors' Care!
The sale of Vancouver-based Retirement Concepts, a
seniors' care corporation to a foreign buyer, Beijing-based Anbang
Insurance is now before the federal government for review.
The proposed purchase is being met with strong
opposition and the
demand that the federal government reject the deal as being completely
against the public interest and that the BC and Alberta governments
also reject the deal.
owns 25 facilities classified as independent
living, assisted living and complex care. Most are in BC with two in
Calgary and one in Montreal, as well as significant property holdings
which could be used for expansion.
The sale price is said to be in excess of $1
billion, and is under
review by the federal government's Investment Review Division because
it exceeds the $600-million threshold which triggers automatic
under the Canada Investment Act. The Hospital Employees' Union,
which represents close to 1,900 workers
at 12 Retirement Concepts locations in BC strongly opposes the
is calling on both the provincial and federal governments to reject it.
"Residential care and assisted living services are a
of the continuum of care in this province," Hospital Employees' Union
(HEU) secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside said. "Selling BC
seniors' care facilities to an offshore insurance company is not in the
interests of BC health care workers, seniors, or our health care
system. Allowing this sale to proceed would represent a major loss of
accountability and control over the provision of seniors' care. And it
would send a clear signal to global investors that seniors' care and
other health services in this province are for sale to the highest
bidder. Unfettered foreign investment in our health care system is the
direction for British Columbians."
"This sale is another alarming sign of how private
decisions are driven by profit motives instead of what's best for
patient care," said Friends of Medicare Executive Director Sandra
Azocar. "A distant and multi-billion dollar insurance corporation is
about the exact opposite of who we need responsible for the care of our
ones in Alberta."
"Ultimately we want to see a long-term phase out of
private care in
Alberta, and this is why. We believe companies like Retirement Concepts
and now Anbang Insurance Group do not see their role as providing
quality care to patients, but as an easy path to a lucrative investment
portfolio," added Azocar. "Still we must insist that this sale be
rejected so that we can refocus our system on care that is responsive
and driven by local needs, and ultimately by the public sector."
"We want to see Ottawa reject this deal. Our continuing
should not be open for the benefit of international investors," Azocar
said. "At the same time we need to hear from our provincial government
that they will advocate in the interests of Alberta patients and oppose
the sale as well, while taking steps to move our continuing
care system out of the hands of profiteers. We can better invest our
limited public funds into public care instead of profit driven
The Clash of Rights
The sale of 25 seniors' care retirement homes,
assisted living and
long-term care facilities by the Canadian company Retirement Concepts
to the Beijing-based foreign monopoly Anbang Insurance must be
rejected. Instead what is needed is to restrict and eventually
eliminate the role of private interests entirely from seniors' care.
Governments are handing
over more and more seniors' care and health
care to private interests such as Retirement Concepts, which receives
the largest amount of public funding of any private corporation in
seniors' care. They in turn consider it their monopoly right to sell to
the highest bidder.
According to the Investment Canada Act,
beyond a certain threshold (in 2016 the threshold is enterprise
over $600 million) must be reviewed by the federal government and
provide a "net benefit" to Canada.
What possible benefit could come from such a sale which
care of seniors in the hands of a huge global monopoly. For the global
monopoly involved, this is a purchase of commercial real estate, with
the motive of making money and increasing their investment in the
shortest possible time. The investment has nothing whatsoever to
do with looking after the well-being of seniors, or in providing modern
and humane seniors homes and care, or any other benefit to Canadians.
Under the proposed sale, Retirement Concepts would
continue to hold
a minority share and a contract for managing the facilities. The sale
adds yet another claimant and layer of private profit and will
lead to further attacks on the living conditions of seniors and the
working conditions of the workers and further plunder of the public
Privately owned and operated seniors' care facilities
funded, that is through the added value created by the working class
and claimed by governments, as well as by the fees which seniors must
pay for food, accommodation and a growing portion of personal and
health care and medical supplies not covered by public health care.
The workers who provide care and services create immense value for the
Private monopoly interests are claiming an increasing
share of this
added-value. Permitting layer upon layer of parasites to profit from
health care and seniors' care does immense damage. In this case, a
foreign owner will make its claim for private profit. This is added to
the claim of the current owners who would retain a minority share and
management role. In turn they frequently contract out services, giving
rise to yet more claims for private profit from the added value created
by the working class. In addition there are the claims of the drug
companies, private insurers and on and on. The public treasury is
plundered to pay the rich, while the living conditions of seniors and
working conditions of the staff who care for them are under constant
Rejection of this proposed
sale is a no-brainer under any
conditions. The damage done by the neo-liberal
agenda of handing over seniors' care to private interests is well
documented and well known. No benefit exists from such a sale, which
only adds to the damage done by privatization by putting control in the
a foreign corporation. Seniors' care is not a private matter but a
public concern over which Canadians must exercise sovereign public
The neo-liberal agenda of privatization of health care
care is clashing with the modern demand for a society in which rights
are provided with a guarantee. Health care and seniors' care are modern
rights for all, rights that people have by virtue of being human. The
old outlook, that the right to private profit should prevail over the
rights of the actual producers and the public interest, is clashing
the demand for a modern society based on affirming and guaranteeing the
rights of all, not just those with wealth and privilege.
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