Phase 2 of Vaccine Delivery Plan Launches – Special Vaccination Leave Introduced

Released on March 18, 2021

Today, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the launch of Phase 2 of the Vaccine Delivery Plan with the introduction of booking eligibility online and by phone for residents 67 years and older.

Effective at 12:00 PM on Thursday, March 18, eligibility for the online and phone-in booking system is expanded to the 67 years and older age group and those considered clinically extremely vulnerable.

Phase 2 also includes select congregate living settings such as group homes for persons with intellectual disabilities and emergency shelters.  The expansion comes earlier than anticipated and is due to the rapid and successful rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations through the Saskatchewan Health Authority’s vaccine booking system.

Anyone who is 67 years old as of March 18, 2021, can go online to book an appointment at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-vaccine.  You will need a Saskatchewan health services card and an email or cell phone in order to receive notification reminders of the appointment.  Those without email or cell phones can call 1-833-Sask-Vax (727-5829).

“The implementation of the online and telephone appointment booking system has enabled the rapid deployment of vaccinations across the province,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said.  “This move into Phase 2 is ahead of the anticipated schedule but with the vaccine and the ability to move forward swiftly we do not want to delay.  This achievement is great news for our residents and our province as every vaccination delivered brings us one day closer to returning to normal.”

While the eligibility categories have broadened into the Phase 2 recommendations, vaccinations and eligibility for individuals identified in Phase 1 will continue until completed.  This includes completing all first and second doses for long-term care and personal care home residents and staff.

As more vaccine becomes available in the coming weeks, clinics will be expanding across the province.

Individuals who may be considered clinically extremely vulnerable will receive a letter with instructions for booking appointments.  A complete list of clinically extremely vulnerable conditions is available at www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19.

“We continue to be a leader in Canada at getting vaccines into arms quickly and safely,” Saskatchewan Health Authority CEO Scott Livingstone said.  “Achieving this milestone ahead of schedule is a reminder for us to celebrate and thank the health care workers who are working long hours to make this possible.”

Special Vaccination Leave Introduced

The Government of Saskatchewan has also amended The Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, 2020 to allow for paid time off from work for an employee to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and are effective immediately.  Special Vaccination Leave is similar to provisions allowing residents to vote during a general election.

The new section 6-22.1, Special Vaccination Leave, establishes that during the pandemic:

  • Workers are entitled to three consecutive hours leave during work hours to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Workers are entitled to more than three consecutive hours if the employer determines the circumstances warrant a longer break from work.
  • Workers do not lose any pay or other benefits while receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

“We want to ensure that everyone in the province gets vaccinated,” Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan said.  “The amendment today ensures workers also have paid time off during the work hours to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The new regulation comes into force on March 18, 2021.

Regina City council approves efficiency review of City Hall operations

Mayor Sandra Masters promised to find 15 per cent in efficiencies at city hall. Though that figure is absent from a report before council, a review is coming down the pipe, nonetheless. 

Mayor Sandra Masters is on pace to make good on one of her key campaign planks — to conduct an efficiency review at city hall.

In a 10-1 vote, council decided to move forward with Masters’s plan to conduct a review of city operations and to create an efficiency review sponsor team to provide advice to council on how to build back after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

Now that the review — which will cost up to $250,000 — has been approved, city manager Chris Holden said the city will issue a request for proposals “almost immediately.”

Masters’ campaign promise was to find 15 per cent in efficiencies at city hall, but that figure is absent from the report before council.

Coun. Landon Mohl (Ward 10) said while door knocking during the campaign, city efficiencies was the number one concern he heard.

Masters said Coun. Andrew Stevens (Ward 3) and a member of the community will co-chair the committee and will collaborate with Holden and local stakeholders.

“We’re trying to keep the committee small to keep it nimble,” said Masters.

Coun. Bob Hawkins (Ward 2) said he felt committee membership should be decided by council, and moved a motion to that effect. “If we’re going to have a committee with any credibility that’s advising council, council should vote the membership on that committee,” said Hawkins.

Council agreed and the motion passed unanimously though there was no further discussion of potential members, the size of the committee or when it would be chosen.

Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk (Ward 1) said she had some concerns about what the efficiency review will mean, specifically regarding cuts to services and jobs. “What’s considered efficient can be subjective,” she said, adding that in the past, efficiency has meant privatization and failed attempts at Lean initiatives.

Echoing Stadnichuk’s concerns, Ward 6 councillor Daniel LeBlanc, the sole dissenter, asked administration what the city’s working definition of “efficiency” is, going into the review.

Holden said the city needs to continue to offer the services it does, “in a municipal setting there isn’t a huge opportunity to slash services,” he said.

Holden said the city will look to do more with the same, while looking to technology, reworking existing systems and streamlining processes to accomplish more at city hall.

“It’s not a goal to reduce the size of the workforce,” said Holden.

LeBlanc asked about the possibility of privatizing certain services offered by the city.

Holden said it was something that “you have to look at” but added that all recommendations from the review will come back to council for final approval, which means council will have final say on any decision.

Six to eight services, which will be picked by council, will be reviewed in the report. The review is expected to be completed in six months. The last such review was completed in 2004.

alsalloum@postmedia.com

Pandemic Engagement Pulse Survey

  • Every employee 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 Wednesday, January 27 to Wednesday, February 3.
  • Your feedback is important to the success of the City.

Survey Link:

https://surveys.mcleanco.com/engagement/surveys/37625/kiosk

President’s Message

Hello everyone:

This last year has been difficult for our Local, community, citizens, and most of all our Members. But, through all of this we have managed to mitigate the impacts of the issues that have arisen from this pandemic.

This would not have been possible without the hard work and support of your Executive for which I am very thankful. Furthermore, I want to thank all of you, the Members, for continuing to provide the services required to keep our city running. You are the reason life has remained functional in our city and that cannot be overstated. Thank you.

2021 will be a tough year. We will continue to face challenges during these unprecedented times but we will make it through those challenges and be stronger collectively for it.

As you know our presence in the workplace has been reduced and will likely continue that way until restrictions are lifted but I would like to take some time to list some of the items we have worked on in 2020 as a snapshot of what we have been doing.

Grievances:

We currently have forty three (43) “active” grievances and twenty eight (28) of those are from 2020. In total we have advanced fifty (50) grievances on behalf of our Members in 2020. These numbers do not include the instances where concerns were settled informally and are equal to or greater than our formal numbers.

Arbitrations:

We currently have twenty five (25) “active” arbitrations and five (5) of those are from 2020. We settled three (3) arbitrations during the pandemic through digital means.

Committees To Be Heard (CTBH):

We currently have twenty eight (28) open CTBH’s and eighteen (18) of those are from 2020. These cover topics such as operational inconsistencies, workplace culture, vacant positions, contracting out / efficiencies, corporate email accounts for staff, corporate safety, etc.

Bylaws:

We have restructured our Executive committee to be more inclusive and accountable to operating areas. These changes have been supported and adopted in spirit at our table and will come to the Membership as amendments in the New Year. Along with this has been a shift to digitizing our largely paper based operation, this will continue for some time but will be vital when it is finished.

Joint Job Evaluation (JJE):

First, JJE is not dead.

We have met as recently as two (2) weeks ago and have another meeting scheduled in early 2021. In conjunction with Local 7 we have provided the Employer with a roadmap to get this project finished and we will update the Membership when we know more.

Bargaining:

We continuously monitor trends and prepare for bargaining. Please contact us if you feel there is something we need to include in our bargaining package for the next round. It is never too early to begin preparing.

Engagement:

2020 was going to be the year of Member engagement and education. Unfortunately, the pandemic had other plans. As a reaction to this we made a budget submission to the Employer regarding corporate emails for all staff. They have accepted our proposal and will be soft launching this in 2021 in a specific department.

It is our hope this will act as an effective means of communication to our Members. Additionally, we have since purchased a Zoom account and will be holding GM meetings via this platform in the New Year.

Please email cupe.local21@sasktel.net if you wish to participate – you will need to include your name, email, and employee ID# for verification purposes.

Cross Jurisdiction Collaboration:

We continue to strengthen our relationships with our other Union partners and this will continue into 2021. They have been invaluable in presenting a unified front to the Employer and I am thankful for their work.

All in all there are too many people to name and thank for keeping this machine running so I again want to thank everyone for their hard work and commitment and end by saying that I am proud of everything we as a Union and as a Membership have done this last year and I am honoured to be a part of that.

Please have a safe, happy, and restful holiday.

Thanks,

Laird Williamson / President

Digital “ZOOM” Meeting Notice

As a Local 21 CUPE member your recommendations, suggestions and directions are valued and necessary for the continued operations of our local

With the restrictions and limitations due to COVID-19 it remains excitedly difficult to conduct the business of the Union in a way that is inclusive for all members.

In an effort to include as many members as possible at General Membership meetings, the Union Executive has decided to try “ZOOM” meetings for the months of January and February 2021.

– January 12, 2021 – 5:00 pm

– February 9, 2021 – 5:00 pm

What is Zoom: Zoom is an online audio and web conferencing platform, people us it to make phone calls or to participate in video conference meetings.

We are requesting your emails so a link and instructions can be emailed to you. Please send your email to: cupe.local21@sasktel.net

  • See the Meeting Notice / Calendar for a pdf meeting poster for circulation.

Local 21 Executive

Letter of Expectation Changes

The City of Regina has recently reviewed their Letter of Expectation (LOE) process and reaffirmed that these letters are intended to be non disciplinary, and as such will no longer be sent to the Union or Labour Relations.
If you receive one and the tone of it is disciplinary and not constructive coaching as it is intended to be, please contact your Union.

Changes to Employment Insurance and New Canada Recovery Benefits: Q&A

August 25, 2020

On August 20, the federal government announced that eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) would be extended until September 26. However, after that date, Canadians currently receiving the CERB or in need of assistance will transition to Employment Insurance or to one of three new benefits. In order to increase access to Employment Insurance, the government has also announced temporary reforms to EI.

If I am receiving the CERB, what will happen to my benefits on September 27?

If you are receiving the CERB, your last four-week benefit period will be from August 30 to September 26. Beginning September 27, you will transition to either Employment Insurance benefits (regular, sickness, or caregiver) or you may be eligible for one of three new benefits: the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, or the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

Who will now be eligible for EI benefits?

In order to qualify for EI regular benefits, EI sickness benefits, or EI caregiver benefits, workers must have 120 hours of insurable employment in the past 52 weeks or since their last EI claim. You must be available and looking for work and willing to accept reasonable job offers. Your application requires a Record of Employment from your employer and your ROE must not say that you quit your job voluntarily.

What if I am not eligible for EI benefits?

If you are not eligible for EI benefits, you may be eligible for one of three new benefits:

  • The Canada Recovery Benefit: This benefit is available to workers who had employment or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in either 2019 or 2020. You must have stopped working or had your hours reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but you must be available and looking for work.
  • The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit: This benefit is available to workers who are ill or must self-isolate. You must have had employment or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in either 2019 or 2020 and you must have missed a minimum of 60% of your scheduled work week. You cannot be receiving any other form of paid sick leave.
  • The Canada Caregiving Benefit: This benefit is available to workers who had employment or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in either 2019 or 2020. You must have missed a minimum of 60% of your scheduled work week due to the need to care for a dependent, whose school or childcare facility is closed or whose normal caregiver is unavailable. If the child’s normal care options are available, a medical note is required to certify that the child cannot attend.

Who is not covered by EI or by one of the new benefits?

Workers with less than $5,000 in employment income or who are not currently available for work are not eligible for EI regular benefits or for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). Furthermore, workers who stopped working for a reason not related to the COVID-19 pandemic are not eligible for the CRB. This means that students and workers who were already unemployed prior to the pandemic are not eligible.

Parents of children whose school or child care facility is open and who do not have a note from a medical professional certifying that their child is ill or at high risk of illness are not eligible for EI caregiver benefits or the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit.

If I am already receiving the CERB, do I need to apply for EI?

If you applied for the CERB through Service Canada, your application should be automatically transferred to EI and you do not need to reapply again. If you applied for the CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency, you will need to apply for EI through Service Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-regular-benefit/apply.html.

If I am already receiving the CERB, do I need to apply for one of the new Canada Recovery Benefits?

The new Canada Recovery Benefits must be applied for retroactively (after the time period covered has passed) so you will need to submit applications for these benefits even if you have received the CERB.

How do I apply for one of the new benefits?

Applications for the new Canada Recovery Benefits will be accepted through the Canada Revenue Agency beginning in October.

You do not need a Record of Employment to apply for one of these benefits; applications will be by attestation.

How much will I get?

The new Canada Recovery Benefit provides a flat rate benefit of $400 a week, while the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the new Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit provide a flat rate benefit of $500 a week.

Employment Insurance benefits provide up to 55% of your weekly insurable earnings to a maximum of $573 a week. However, the government has set a minimum benefit level of $400 a week for the next year to ensure that everyone on EI receives at least as much as anyone receiving the CRB.

How long can I get benefits for?

The new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit is available for a maximum of two weeks. The new Canada Recovery Benefit and the new Canada Caregiving Benefit are available for up to 26 weeks. EI benefits are available for between 26 to 45 weeks, depending on your regional rate of unemployment and the number of insurable hours of employment you have accumulated since your last claim.

What if I go back to work?

If you are receiving EI benefits, the Working While on Claim program allows you to earn up to 90% of your previous salary while still collecting benefits. However, your benefits will be reduced by 50 cents for every dollar of income you earn.

For the new Canada Recovery Benefit, you are allowed to earn income while receiving the benefit but if your annual income for the calendar year exceeds $36,000, then you will be asked to repay the benefit on your annual income tax return at the rate of 50% per dollar of additional income, such that the full benefit is repaid if you earn $46,000 a year or more.

For the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and the new Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, if you work more than 40% of your normally scheduled work week, you are not eligible for the benefit.

Are the benefits taxable?

Employment Insurance benefits and the new Canada Recovery Benefits are all taxable. All benefits will have taxes deducted by Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency before the payment is made to you.