Posted on September 3, 2015
REGINA – Over the summer, northern Saskatchewan faced an unprecedented number of forest fires that, at its height, forced the evacuation of over 13,000 people from their homes for weeks over the summer. While the threat has since subsided and northern residents have returned home, efforts to provide relief and support for impacted communities continue. CUPE, Saskatchewan’s largest public sector union, has announced a donation of $20,000 to the ongoing relief efforts provided by the Prince Albert Grand Council for northern communities and reserves. The amount is the combined donation made by CUPE Saskatchewan, CUPE Health Care Council, and CUPE National.
“It’s important all of us continue to stand with and support northern communities dealing with the lasting impact of the devastating forest fires this summer,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “CUPE, Saskatchewan’s community union, is pleased to make a donation to the Prince Albert Grand Council in support of ongoing efforts to assist northern residents impacted by forest fires.”
The donation made to the Prince Albert Grand Council will go towards the total expenses of providing emergency relief efforts for forest fire evacuees over the summer and additional support services coordinated through the Council. The Prince Albert Grand Council represents 12 First Nations including the reserves of Lac La Ronge and Montreal Lake that were evacuated due to forest fires.
“The Prince Albert Grand Council has over 38,000 members, many of which were affected and still recovering from the 2015 northern Saskatchewan fires and evacuation. On behalf of our PAGC membership, executive, staff and volunteers, I wish to extend my hand in gratitude to CUPE Saskatchewan for the good will shown in this time,” said Grand Chief Ron Michel. “The journey to recover in this tragedy has been made shorter by your good deed to us today! – Ekosi, Marsi Cho, Wasti-lo, Thank you.”
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The following news release was issued today by CUPE Saskatchewan:
The introduction of user-pay MRI scan legislation by the Government of Saskatchewan is the beginning of two-tier health care, says CUPE.
“Allowing those able to pay for private MRI scans to get access to health care more quickly – regardless of need – is the introduction of two-tier health care,” said Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “While those with large wallets can get MRIs quickly, the rest of us will have to wait.”
Graham pointed to provinces that have experimented with the pay-per-use model where studies have shown an increase in overall wait times. In Alberta, the private pay-per-use model resulted in a contravention of the Canada Health Act and the province was forced to repay patients for medically necessary MRI scans.
The union has further concerns with private MRI operators poaching health care professionals from the public system which already experiences staff shortages from private clinics.
“Legislation that allows people to jump the queue and causes the poaching of health care professionals from the public system will lead to reduced access to health care and longer wait lists,” said Graham. “Passing off more costs to patients and draining the public health care system is not innovative, it’s privatization.”
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