CUPE hoping to see province propose more funding for public sectors in next budget

With the 2020-21 provincial budget set to be unveiled Monday, Saskatchewan’s largest union is hoping to see funding for public services that have been hit hard by COVID-19.

President of CUPE Saskatchewan, Judy Henley, says there has been a lot of concern for the public sector since the pandemic took hold. She is hoping that the budget, which was drafted before COVID-19, has changed to address the impacts the pandemic has had.

“A lot of things have changed with COVID-19, as we are all aware of the way we are living,” said Henley. “They need to look at better investments into the public sector, into the universities, childcare, libraries. Everything is going to be different.”

Henley adds that, besides the temporary wage top-up, community- organizations haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

According to Henley, some school boards have looked at cutting back cleaning staff, adding that it’s more important than ever to keep everything clean and sanitary. She is asking for the provincial government to look at funding to make sure cleaning is enhanced, especially in schools.

“Not only is it workers, but it’s our children and students that are going to be affected if the cleaning isn’t happening,” said Henley. “We need to do it right; we need to make sure that everybody is safe when they’re going to work.”

She adds that day cares lack the PPE they need to be able to operate properly, saying that social distancing in a daycare is difficult.

Henley says that the government did an adequate job of trying to keep public sector workers at work during the pandemic, but they need to take another look at employee wages.

“There needs to be substantial funding, and continued funding for community-based organizations and child cares so that they have proper wages at this time,” said Henley. “It’s time for them to really look at it. If you’re looking at doing a wage top-up for workers during a pandemic, then maybe their wages weren’t sufficient to begin with.”

Henley says that while CUPE doesn’t have any numbers in mind, they want to see the government fund the necessary sectors to make sure the economy reopens safely.

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