Pandemic Engagement Pulse Survey

• Every person at the City of Regina has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in some way.
• The City would like to hear about your experiences, to check in on your health and wellbeing, and to see if you’ve been getting the information and support you need during this critical time.
• Please take a few moments to complete this survey which is available to all employees from: Tuesday, May 19 to Tuesday, May 26.
• Your feedback is important to the success of the City.

Survey Link:

https://surveys.mcleanco.com/engagement/surveys/34818/kiosk

PDF poster:

EC Employee Pandemic Pulse Survey

Communication Update – Letter of Understanding

For several weeks the City of Regina and the Union have been negotiating a Letter of Understanding (LOU) regarding temporary redeployment of staff due to COVID-19 similarly to other municipalities across the Province of Saskatchewan.

With the support of CUPE National and our Local Executive we have signed that agreement today (April 29, 2020).

This Letter of Understanding contains and aligns with the current language within our Collective Agreement (CA) with respect to layoff, recall, superior duty, and the current redeployment Letter of Understanding on page seventy-five (75) with one (1) notable exception – this Letter of Understanding allows for the Bargaining Unit movement of our members instead of hiring new employees from off the street.

This Letter of Understanding will remain in effect until the Public State of Emergency has been lifted, August 31, 2020, or either party serves a thirty (30) day termination notice to the other, whichever comes first.

With the decision of City Council to reduce some staffing and service levels we needed a creative solution to maintain as much meaningful work for our members as possible and in attempt to prevent layoffs while allowing flexibility in the recall process.

Without this Letter of Understanding we would have been obligated to adhere to the current language which does not benefit any member within Facilities or Recreation areas with respect to being laid off or redeployed due to the closures issued under the Provincial Public Health Order.

We ask that all members review this Letter of Understanding and contact the Union if you have any questions.

It is important to mention that a Letter of Understanding does not prevent the membership from bringing forward concerns for investigation if they feel they have been disadvantaged and we encourage all members to do so.

Furthermore, it does not hinder the Union Executive from pursuing a grievance related to this Letter of Understanding if the City of Regina violates the intent or any language within the Collective Agreement and if need be we will pursue any legitimate violation to the fullest extent.

To those who are not currently employed and are beginning to lose hope or feel that the season is slipping away from them, we want to ensure you that we are continuing to press the City of Regina to expand their scope and find meaningful, safe, and productive work for those who are still being impacted, this includes but is not limited to contracted services.

We are also eagerly waiting for a decision from City Council regarding a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plan and we will update the membership as soon as that information is made available.

We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who remains working and continues to provide critical services to the Citizens of Regina.

For future updates, meeting notices and alerts we ask that you visit the Local 21 website at: local21.ca

Thank you,
Local 21

LOU pdf file:

LOU – Temp. Layoff Redeploy PE – April 29, 2020

Phases of Re-Open Saskatchewan

Re-Open Saskatchewan will consist of five phases.

The timing and order of the businesses/workplaces included in each phase is subject to change throughout the process based on a continuous assessment of transmission patterns and other factors.

Phase One: Re-opening previously restricted medical services Opening of golf courses, parks and campgrounds.

Phase Two: Re-opening retail and select personal care services.

Phase Three: Re-opening restaurants and food services, gyms and fitness centres, licensed establishments and child care facilities Re-opening remaining personal care services Increasing the size of public and private gatherings to 15 people.

Phase Four: Re-opening indoor and outdoor recreation facilities Increasing the size of public and private gatherings to 30 people.

Phase Five: Consider lifting long-term restrictions.

The attached pdf file provides the full details on re-open Saskatchewan …

Re-Open Saskatchewan Plan (1) (2)

L21 / L7 / L588 – Joint submission to City Council

April 15, 2020

City Council City of Regina

Queen Elizabeth II Court

Regina, SK, S4P 3C8

Re: COVID-19 Financial Update

ATU 588, CUPE Local 21 and CUPE Local 7 are providing this joint submission to City Council regarding possible measures the City of Regina, at the direction of City Council are considering at today’s meeting.

As unions, we represent the City of Regina employees from Transit, Outside Workers and Inside Workers.

This range includes Transit Drivers, Mechanics, Customer Service Representatives, Equipment Operators, Building Officials, Recreation and Facilities Workers, Dispatchers, Foresters and Pest Control, Administrative Staff and all of your front-line employees that are the face of the Citizens of the City of Regina.

Our memberships take pride in the work we perform and, in some cases, through this pandemic, are possibly putting their own lives and their families health on the line to come to work and perform the critical services required to keep the City running.

We commend the City in taking precautions to ensure our members that continue to work are doing so safely and we will continue to work with Management to ensure that the safety of our members is a priority. Today, each of you are likely tasked with a very difficult set of variables to consider.

Based on the information being provided to you, that based on “worst case scenario” the City could lose $20M in revenue. We are writing to you to provide some information regarding ensuring that your employees and our members are adequately supported during these difficult times.

We are aware that many people have faced layoffs in these past weeks, the City itself laid off over 350 casual employees, the bulk from CUPE Local 21, but also deferred the recall of approximately 450 other casual members from CUPE Local 21.

Local 21’s casual brothers and sisters, your electorate, are the foundation of Local 21.

These are employees who seasonally commit to working for the City to work on our roads, in our parks and on our underground infrastructure. They are the ones who will one day become our permanent workforces, the ones who go on to have 30 year plus careers and some will even become Leaders in this organization.

Now these employees, some of them with over 20 years of service, are placed on hold, unsure of what the future holds for them and their families.

How the casual workforce is treated during this pandemic will echo across generations and manifest itself as workplace disdain, distrust, and dissension if they feel discarded during these unprecedented times. We ask that you seriously consider if there is more that as an employer you can do for them.

Based on comments by the Mayor and our City Manager, we are still hopeful that the City will not be considering any further layoffs of any employees. We know that the longer the measures to control the epidemic last, the more difficult these hopes, commitments and conversations will be.

We are asking that we be considered your partners in these decisions, as we bring a different perspective to the table, the one of your front-line employees. Without that perspective and knowledge, Management might miss the simplest corrections and opportunities.

The Unions are the ones your employees turn to when they are unsure or when they have concerns, and where they bring safety concerns that are being ignored by management. We are the truth for employees. Accepting that and including us in these most difficult conversations and decisions, ensures that all considerations are on the table and that, as the unions representing these employees, we have heard your thoughts and considerations and understood your rationale.

Leaving us out of these vital decisions and options, will only lead to misinformation, confusion and a “left behind by the employer” feeling. ATU 588, CUPE Local 7 and CUPE Local 21 is requesting City Council and Administration to provide all laid off employees the Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Program (SUB) that is available to employers.

The purpose of a SUB plan is to provide supplemental payments to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits during a period of unemployment due to temporary stoppage of work; training; illness, injury or quarantine. This allows an employer to supplement employees who are receiving EI to up to 95% of their normal weeks earning.

Below is a basic example on how it works:

SUB payable when the employee is receiving EI benefits and has no other earnings.

a. Employee’s normal weekly earnings $1,000

b. Employee’s other earnings $0

c. 95% of normal weekly earnings $950

d. Maximum EI payment $573

e. Calculation of maximum SUB payment (C –D = E) $377

The cost of a SUB plan or recalling staff, safely, pales in comparison to the workplace efficiency we risk losing if a workforce feels like they are disposable or forgotten.

These options provide financial security to your employees, as well as lower the stress on already limited resources, such as food banks. We implore you to look at your reserve funding to help our members in this time of great need and uncertainty.

If a worldwide pandemic is not enough of a catalyst to access that funding, what is? While ATU has found that they are in a different position than their CUPE Brothers and Sisters, they understand that they could very well find themselves in a very similar position very soon and encourage City Council to seriously consider a SUB plan for all laid off employees.

This decision would be a signal to our memberships and all your employees that they will be looked after if decisions regarding the service levels need to happen in areas like Transit, Parks, Roadways, etc.

At a time that some employees are literally putting their lives at risk for the citizens of this city, they deserve a commitment from their employer that their income will be secure in the event layoffs occur. They have earned that piece of mind.

We are all in this together as One City One Team, our joint submission shows our commitment to work together with the City of Regina. The City of Regina cannot claim to be an employer of choice if we do not choose our employees first.

This is a time the people of Regina require strong leadership.

We trust you will make the appropriate decision.

Thank you,

Laird Williamson – CUPE Local 21  

Richel Nixon – CUPE Local 7

Kevin Lucier  – ATU Local 588

PDF file for printing:  
City Council COVID-19 Financial Update

Regina city council approves plan to make up projected $20.7 million shortfall

Regina city council has approved a plan to make up for a $20.7-million shortfall projected by the end of September due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a special city council meeting Wednesday, Mayor Michael Fougere said the city is living in extraordinary times and is making its way through “uncharted waters” with no shoreline in sight in many ways.

“This is a hit-and-miss art on how we continue to provide services,” he said.

The plan, approved Wednesday with just a couple of minor amendments, includes a variety of cost-saving measures recommended by city administration to stem the strong tide of COVID-19.

It includes a postponement of nine projects totalling $6.4 million under the Residential Road Renewal Program that are already four to six weeks behind schedule due to the pandemic and would be challenging to complete while respecting social distancing guidelines.

The expansion of transit routes to the airport and Westerra development as well as the on-demand transit pilot will be delayed until August. The summer and spring U-pass transit program University of Regina students will be delayed until May 2021.

Approximately $7.4 million in “expense reduction measures” was also approved, which includes everything from a hiring freeze except for essential workers to the option of dipping into the Winter Road Maintenance Program reserve fund.

Administration also looked to reduce the spring street sweeping program by focusing on arterial and collector roads, not residential roads, but council agreed to maintain the program in full, using reserve funds to pay the difference.
So far, it is the only item in the plan that will use reserve funds, but some council members believe the city should be relying more on reserves and less on cutting services.

“We owe it to our residents to look at every possible opportunity to find savings and not put pressure on taxpayers at all,” said Fougere.

Others, like Ward 8 Coun. Mike O’Donnell, agreed council should not resort to increasing taxes, but cautioned using reserves.

“This is the start of this process, not the end of this process and I think if we start going after reserves right now, we would leave ourselves short,” he said.

Reduction in services
Some services will be temporarily stopped in order to cut costs, including mosquito, Dutch elm disease, cankerworm, gopher, aphid, and spurge control programs. Only spot spraying for cankerworms will be done as well as monitoring only for mosquitos and Dutch elm disease.

Most of the city’s usual park and green space maintenance, save for athletic fields until they can be used again, will proceed as normal.

The Provincial Capital Commission is able to provide the city with 80 per cent of the plant materials needed by the city to do its usual flower pots and other horticulture work throughout the city, but administration said it will refrain from planting in areas that are closed to members of the public, like City Hall and Mosaic Stadium.

Calls for help deferred by council
Two written submissions were read into the record during Wednesday’s meeting that called on the city to provide more financial support to businesses and laid off city workers.

On behalf of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, CEO John Hopkins asked the city to consider providing relief to non-residential property owners through a 25-per-cent reduction in the municipal portion of property taxes in 2020.

Administration will come back to council with a report in July outlining the implications of the request, which it said is plenty of time to address the concern before property taxes come due at the end of September as well as see what supports the federal and provincial governments might be able to provide instead.

Three unions representing city workers also asked council to provide all laid off employees with a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Program to help make up for lost wages. Administration will come back to council by the end of May with a report for consideration.

City manager Chris Holden was also granted emergency powers, which gives him delegated authority to make certain quick decisions, for example entering into funding agreements with the province in order to access important financial assistance in a timely manner. Council retains the right to cancel or amend any decisions made by Holden under this authority.

This will handle the revenue gap we have for the moment,” said Fougere.

Regina Leader-Post / April 15, 2020

Message to the Membership

Ahead of the long Easter weekend your Union wishes to take this opportunity to provide you with an update.

A. CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) potential denial for those who were on layoff and now have a postponed recall.

Presently we are in discussions with CUPE National, EI Worker Advocacy, and the City of Regina regarding this important matter. We have asked the City of Regina to advocate to the Provincial and Federal governments on our behalf in order to pressure the Federal government into amending the eligibility requirements regarding CERB.

B. Advocacy
We continue to advocate for our membership at every level we are able to including the general public, ELT (Executive Leadership Team), City Council, Service Canada, and the Provincial and Federal governments.

C. SUB (Supplemental Unemployment Benefit)
We are still in tentative discussions with the City of Regina regarding the possibility of developing a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Plan. When we have any information regarding this matter we will update the membership.

D. Operational Discussions / Long Range Planning
The City of Regina and the Union continue to meet three (3) times a week to discuss the impacts of this virus pandemic on our service and other potential long-range planning.

There is no answer at this time but we are awaiting decisions that are to be made by City Council and City Administration, we hope it will be productive and employee focused. When we have the answer(s) we will engage the membership.

E. Casual Workforce
A small contingent of casual staff has remained working, roughly one hundred and twenty (120) members. There also have been several success stories of re-engagement:

  • the REACH program
  • the Landfill summer hours increase resulting in recall within the Branch
  • Facility Operations deferring layoffs
  • and deferred layoff of casual staff in other areas.

F. Communication
We will endeavour to keep the membership as informed as we are able given the circumstances; unfortunately, this situation has been and will continue to be in a state of constant flux, and releasing information prematurely would simply result in a repeating cycle of update, retraction, and confusion.

Our focus will remain on updating the membership with news that can be validated and confirmed. City Administration and City Council will be making decisions regarding long-range planning shortly, and once this occurs we will have a better understanding where we are and where we are headed.

G. Rumour and Speculation
Speculation and rumour will always travel faster than credible, accurate information, especially in a situation without precedent.

As such, in the midst of government endorsed social isolation, our in-person contact and presence in the workforce is obviously not the same as is typical, so if you have issues or concerns you wish to discuss please reach out to the Union office and they will be addressed.

If you have a question, concern, or suggestion please call the office and ask the question before making assumptions.

CERB Government of Canada – Information Link:

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html

Stay safe,

L. Williamson – A/ President

 

CUPE – What Can I Do If My Employer Is Not Doing Enough To Keep Me Safe From COVID-19?

To all Cupe Locals:

Your employer has a legal obligation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all their workers.

This obligation is especially important during the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To provide safe working conditions, your employer has a general legal duty to:

CUPE SK_COVID-19_Health and Safety CIRCULAR_No 1_APRIL 7 2020_FINAL (002) (2)

Canada Emergency Response Benefit: Q&A

The federal government has announced a new benefit to help workers impacted by COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB has been integrated with Employment Insurance to allow workers to apply for benefits through a single window.

Who is covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

The CERB will cover people who have lost their job, people who are sick or quarantined, and parents who must stay home without pay to care for children because of COVID-19. The CERB also covers workers who have no income due to the COVID-19 slowdown, but who haven’t yet been officially laid off.

It will cover employees, contract workers, and self-employed workers. To qualify, applicants must have had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day they make the application.

Who is not covered by the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Job loss must be related to COVID-19 and must have happened on or after March 15. This means students who are unable to find a summer job, seasonal workers, and workers who were already unemployed are not eligible for the CERB. In addition, applicants must not be receiving any income from employment, so workers whose hours have been reduced but are still working are not eligible.

How much will I get?

The CERB will pay out $2,000 per month for up to four months, backdated to March 15. The benefit is available March 15 to October 3, 2020. The benefit will not be taxed at source but will have to be reported on your 2020 taxes.

Do I need my ROE (Record of Employment)?

You do not need your record of employment (ROE) from your employer in order to apply for the CERB. You should still ask for it, because you will need it later if you need to apply for EI regular or sickness benefits after the CERB ends.

Where can I apply for the CERB?

You can apply now through Service Canada by applying for EI regular benefits or sickness benefits. Or you can apply for the CERB on or after April 6, through a new Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) portal.

If you have already applied for EI, you don’t need to also apply for the CERB, your claim will automatically be assessed for the 16-week benefit. If you receive the CERB, you can use your hours to apply for EI benefits after you have exhausted CERB benefits. You can apply in one of three ways:

1 – through your CRA MyAccount secure portal;

2– through your secure My Service Canada Account; or

3 – by calling a toll-free number equipped with an automated application process.

At this point, CUPE is advising our members to apply through Service Canada to ensure an easier transition if you need to apply for EI regular or sickness benefits later.

What if I’ve already been laid off and applied for EI?

If you submit an application for EI now or have already applied since March 15, you do not need to reapply for the CERB. If you qualify, your claim will be automatically moved over to the CERB, and benefits will be paid from this program first. If needed, you can use your hours to apply for EI benefits after you have exhausted CERB benefits.

What if I don’t qualify for EI?

Even if you don’t qualify for EI, you can qualify for the CERB if you had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day you make the application and if your job loss, income loss, sick leave or caregiving leave is because of COVID-19.

When will I get benefits?

Applications for EI are being processed now. The application portal through the Canada Revenue Agency opens on Monday April 6. Benefits should be delivered 10 days after you submit your application. There is no waiting period for the CERB.

What if I’m already receiving EI benefits?

If you started getting EI before March 15 you will continue to receive your EI benefits. If you remain unemployed or on sick leave once you exhaust EI benefits, you may qualify for the CERB, if your job loss or sick leave was because of COVID-19.

What if I continue to be sick or unemployed after my CERB runs out?

If you have enough EI insurable hours, you will still be able to access your normal EI benefits after the 16-week period covered by the CERB. Your eligibility and benefit level will be based on the hours you worked and your salary before you started getting the CERB.

You will need to have a ROE from your employer to access normal EI benefits after October 3, 2020.

What if my province offers emergency income support? Am I still eligible for the CERB?

You will not be disqualified for the CERB simply for having non-employment income. You can receive income from non-employment sources while on the CERB, including temporary provincial income support, social assistance, workers’ compensation, or pension income. However, you can’t receive any income from employment.

* CERB pdf poster for printing and circulation:

https://cupe.ca/sites/cupe/files/cerb_qa_2020_04_02_en.pdf