Office of the Premier
Provincewide service disruptions continue due to CUPE strike02 November 2021
FREDERICTON (GNB) -- The strike by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) continues to have an impact across the province in health, education, transportation, laundry, correctional services and other areas.
“We are feeling increased pressure on our essential services across the province as a result of CUPE’s strike,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “The health, safety and wellbeing of New Brunswickers remain our top priority and we are continuously assessing the impact and whether further action is required.”
CUPE rejected the provincial government’s initial offer at the bargaining table. The government is currently offering wage increases totalling 8.5 per cent over five years. The offer includes raising the salary for casuals to 100 per cent of the salary paid to permanent staff; sustainable pension plans for existing plans that were in jeopardy; and the opportunity for workers who have not previously qualified, to participate in a pension plan. This offer corresponds with agreements reached this fall with three other bargaining units.
“We presented CUPE with benefits over and above just wage increases, and I sincerely hope they are considering the entire value of our offer and how that benefits their members,” said Higgs.
To provide stability to students, parents and guardians over the coming days, the government has locked out all non-designated employees in CUPE locals 1253 and 2745, which include custodians, bus drivers, school library assistants and administrative support, and a number of educational assistants.
More than 3,000 employees are locked out as a result of these measures. Designated workers are not included in the lock-out.
In response to the Labour and Employment Board’s recent ruling, designated educational assistants (EAs) will be provided with pay for the duration of the strike. In the meantime, designated EAs will not physically report to work as no custodial staff is on site at schools to conduct regular and COVID-19 related cleaning.
The strike has disrupted the delivery of health services across the province.
All hospitals in the Horizon Health Network are experiencing delays in screening patients at main entrances. Appointments at hospitals in this network are postponed except for those patients who are directly notified that their surgery, procedure, or appointment will proceed. Emergency departments remain open.
Horizon's Community Health Centres and clinics, and Addiction and Mental Health Services are operating, but with limited services. Patients should continue to attend their scheduled appointments.
Due to the strike, the Vitalité Health Network advises the public that the usual entrances to its hospitals and other points of service may be temporarily closed and patients directed to another entrance. For example, the emergency department entrance could be used at certain times of the day instead of the main hospital entrance. Delays are to be expected in accessing Vitalité’s hospitals and points of service.
Most workers in correctional facilities as well as probation officers, victim services co-ordinators, some support and maintenance personnel, and court stenographers are involved in the strike. The provincial government has contingency plans in place to allow for the continuation of essential services.
The strike is affecting the delivery of laundry services in hospitals and some nursing homes in the greater Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton areas.
Ongoing ferry service delays are to be expected across the province. Motorists can check for updates regarding any impact to ferry services, by calling 511, checking the NB511 Twitter page or the NB511 website.