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December 9, 2022

WCB

Manitoba Federation of Labour asks Stefanson government to Prioritize Workplace Mental Health Injuries

(Winnipeg) – Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck is calling on the Stefanson government to introduce legislation to ensure that the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) provides workers who suffer mental health injuries on the job with the same support as they do for Manitobans who suffer physical injuries at work.

The MFL also released a new Probe Research poll it commissioned that shows 70 per cent of Manitobans want the WCB to do more to support workers who are suffering from workplace mental health injuries, such as those from burnout, extreme stress and toxic workplaces. 

“Work shouldn’t hurt your body or your mind. And if you get hurt on the job, the WCB should be there to support you in your recovery – regardless of whether your injury is physical or mental,” said Rebeck. “Right now, the WCB does not treat workplace mental health injuries the same way it treats physical injuries suffered on the job, and that’s just not fair.”

Currently, the WCB only provides coverage for mental health injuries arising from certain specified causes, such as workplace harassment or traumatic events, but does not support mental health injuries that are caused by other identifiable workplace stressors like extreme stress, burnout or toxic workplaces. This means workers are suffering mental health injuries on the job but falling through the cracks of WCB support. In fact, according to the WCB’s own data, it has rejected nearly half (46 per cent) of all psychological injury claims that workers submitted between 2018 and 2021.

Other provinces, notably British Columbia and Ontario, have made legislative changes to ensure workplace mental health injuries are supported, regardless of whether they stem from an acute event or ongoing workplace stressors. 

“This poll result clearly shows that Manitobans are on board with expanding WCB coverage and they want government to act to make sure workers who are suffering from mental health injuries receive the help they need,” said Rebeck. 

He added that the MFL will be running a public awareness campaign calling on the Stefanson government make equal treatment for workplace mental and physical injures the law.

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November 15, 2022

MFL News

MFL Statement on 2022 Throne Speech

We know that working families have been hit hard over the last three years by the COVID-19 pandemic and now by crushing increases at the grocery stores, the gas pumps, and in the cost of housing.

Manitoba workers are increasingly worried about paying the bills and supporting their families.  And they are also worried about public services being there for them when they need them after years of cuts and chaos under the Pallister/Stefanson government.

Now, many economists and even the Bank of Canada are talking about Canada experiencing slower economic growth and the potential for a recession in 2023. We were hoping to see a stronger plan to protect good jobs and economic security for working families in this Throne Speech. 

Manitobans have seen our public services and the people who provide them, like in health care, stretched to their limit by the pandemic and the cuts and chaos of Brian Pallister and Heather Stefanson.

We know that much more will need to be done to rebuild the system after years of cuts and chaos. There are still staffing shortages throughout the public service and public sector workers are tired of being treated unfairly by this government. These dedicated Manitobans provide valuable services we all rely on, and the government needs to start respecting them and investing more in the services they provide. 

This government’s plan for more private health care is not the answer. Manitobans want more investment in building up and staffing our public health care system. They do not want government to sink money into a private system that will only serve to poach staff from the public system and line the pockets of this government’s corporate friends.

We know that our health care system is expected to face increased pressure due to this respiratory virus season. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted just how unfair it is to force sick workers to choose between going to work to pay the bills, or staying home to protect public health. Over half of Manitoba’s workers have no access to paid sick days on the job. 

That is why the MFL is renewing its call for the provincial government to guarantee at least 10 paid sick days for all workers in Manitoba. 

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November 4, 2022

General

Manitoba’s unions stand in solidarity with CUPE education workers in Ontario

Statement by Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck in support of 55,000 CUPE Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) members and their fight for a fair deal:

The Manitoba Federation of Labour stands in solidarity with the 55,000 members of CUPE Ontario School Boards Council of Unions (OSBCU) and their fight for a fair deal against the bullying tactics of Doug Ford’s government. 

Ford’s government is picking on school custodians, maintenance and library workers, secretaries, early childhood educators, educational assistants, and IT professionals and their families across Ontario by using the notwithstanding clause to impose a contract. This is an extreme move that no government, of any political stripe, has done before. 

Premier Heather Stefanson’s predecessor Brian Pallister wasn’t afraid to stand up and tell other Premiers when they were going too far, as he did when he criticized Quebec Premier Francois Legault for passing legislation to prevent that province’s public servants from wearing religious symbols (Bill 21). 

As she is the current Chair of the Council of the Federation, we believe that Premier Stefanson should summon similar courage today and tell Doug Ford that what he is doing is wrong and un-Canadian. 

These education workers make $39,000 a year on average. They care about students and provide vital public services families count on. Many of them are parents of kids who go to public schools too. 

 But they also need to be able to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table for their families. They deserve to be able to collectively bargain a fair deal that allows them to keep up with the crushing increases at the grocery stores and gas pumps. 

The Ford Conservatives are attacking education workers today. But make no mistake: if they are allowed to get away with this, they will come after the rights of other Canadians next. 

Today, I will be standing in solidarity with CUPE education workers and allies in Kenora to send the Ford Conservatives a message that workers’ rights must be respected, not trampled on.

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August 18, 2022

MFL News

Working families disappointed that Stefanson government has decided to keep Manitoba’s minimum wage the second lowest in Canada

Statement by Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Stefanson government’s planned minimum wage increase:

No one should work full-time but still live in poverty. But that is the reality for thousands of workers in our province because the Stefanson government has kept our minimum wage far too low for workers to be able to make ends meet. 

Working families who rely on minimum wage work were looking for a much higher increase to Manitoba’s minimum wage today. Instead, the Stefanson government has decided that Manitoba should go from having the second-lowest minimum wage in the country right now to staying the second-lowest minimum wage in the country on October 1. The planned minimum wage of $13.50 this year will fall well short of what working families need to make ends meet.  

All working families are concerned about the crushing increases in the cost of living with the price jump at the gas pumps and the grocery stores hitting low-wage workers particularly hard. 

The Stefanson government had claimed it wanted to consult with employers and workers on what the minimum wage should be, and the MFL advocated for $16.15 based on the last available calculation of a living wage. It is unfortunate that the Stefanson government has decided to side with what employers lobbied for instead of what working families need.

We think Manitoba workers are worth more, and that is why Manitoba’s unions will continue to advocate that our minimum wage should be a living wage so that everyone who works full-time on minimum wage lives above the poverty line. 

 

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June 14, 2022

MFL News Health & Safety

Manitoba Federation of Labour gives Stefanson government a D in report card on workplace safety and health

(WINNIPEG) The Manitoba Federation of Labour has given the Stefanson government a grade of D in its 2022 Workplace Health and Safety Report Card, citing numerous examples where the government has rolled back protections for workers on the job, MFL President Kevin Rebeck announced today.

"Workplace safety and health rules keep workers safe on the job, and they help us come home to loved ones once the workday is over,” said Rebeck. “Unfortunately, under both the Pallister and Stefanson governments, we have seen a clear shift away from prioritizing workplace health and safety, and this is leaving workers at greater risk.”

In assessing the government’s performance on workplace health and safety, the MFL report card evaluates the Stefanson government’s overall efforts on workplace health and safety measured against recommendations made by unions to keep workers safe and healthy on the job, as well as to ensure proper care and rehabilitation for workers who are hurt, so they can safely return to work.

 The Stefanson government has been graded in the following categories as follows:

  • On Workplace Health and Safety Laws: D
  • On Enforcement: D
  • On Prevention: C+
  • On Workers Compensation: C-

“Workplace injuries and illnesses don’t have to happen – they are preventable,” said Rebeck. “With the right laws, enforcement strategies and prevention efforts, we can ensure that all workers stay safe and healthy on the job. It is time for the Stefanson government to start working for working families and focus on building and sustaining strong workplace health and safety programs.

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You can read the full 2022 MFL Workplace Health and Safety Report Card here

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May 30, 2022

MFL News

Stefanson government introduces bill to raise the minimum wage

For months now, Manitoba's unions have been raising the embarrassing fact that Manitoba is set to have the lowest minimum wage in the country this year. 

After refusing to do anything about this, today the Stefanson government scrambled to introduce a bill that would allow the government to make a one-off increase to Manitoba's minimum wage in light of skyrocketing inflation. The bill doesn’t specify how much the increase will be, only that it will be more than the 40 cent increase government announced just a few weeks ago, to take effect October 1. 

The government has also now committed to some sort of consultation prior to setting the rate of the additional minimum wage increase this year, and the MFL will be making it clear that anything less than a living wage is unacceptable. No one should work full-time but still live in poverty. And all workers should be paid enough to meet their basic needs like rent, food, transportation, and clothing. 

You can read the MFL's full position on the Stefanson government's minimum wage bill here

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May 6, 2022

MFL News

Kevin Rebeck re-elected as President of the Manitoba Federation of Labour

Delegates to the 2022 Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) have re-elected Kevin Rebeck as President for a fifth term. Delegates also re-elected Jeff Traeger, President of UFCW 832, as MFL Treasurer. 

“I am honoured to be chosen by members of the MFL to keep fighting on behalf of working families in our province,” said Rebeck. “The past few years have highlighted just how much we rely on workers in Manitoba, and just how important unions are for working families. Your MFL will continue to fight for things that will make a difference in the lives of workers, like stronger public services, good family-supporting jobs and a safer, fairer Manitoba.”

Delegates also approved changes to the MFL Constitution that adopt gender inclusive language and ensure greater gender diversity and balance on its Executive Council, which is responsible for governing the MFL between conventions. Rebeck added that representation matters, and that all organizations, including labour bodies, need to take steps to be reflective of our society.

Other resolutions passed by the MFL Convention call for the provincial government to ensure that gig workers are treated the same as any other type of worker under the law, to raise Manitoba’s minimum wage to a living wage level, and to require that all workers have at least 10 paid sick days at work per year. 

“Manitobans are working hard, but finding it harder to get ahead,” said Rebeck. “At a time when the cost of everything is going up, workers need government to have their backs and to take steps to boost wages and provide greater economic security. It’s time for the Stefanson government to start working for working families.”

The next MFL Convention will be held on May 9 – 11, 2024.

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May 3, 2022

MFL News

Because of Heather Stefanson and Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s minimum wage will become the lowest in Canada this year

Statement by Manitoba Federation of Labour President Kevin Rebeck in response to the announcement by the Government of Saskatchewan that Saskatchewan’s minimum wage will rise to $13/hr in October: 

The Government of Saskatchewan plans to increase its province’s minimum wage to $13, which means that Manitoba will drop to having the lowest minimum wage in the country later this year. 

That’s an embarrassment. And if Premier Heather Stefanson was concerned about the struggles facing low-wage workers in our province, she would be embarrassed too. 

Conservative governments in New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have plans to substantially increase their provinces’ minimum wage this year. Instead of following their lead, Premier Stefanson is following in Brian Pallister’s footsteps and keeping thousands of minimum wage earners in poverty.

Working families are concerned about rising costs at the grocery store and the gas pumps, and these increased costs hit low-wage workers particularly hard.  

We think Manitoba workers are worth more than dead last in the country. It’s time for the Stefanson government to start working for working families and take immediate steps to make Manitoba’s minimum wage a living wage.

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April 12, 2022

MFL News

Manitoba Federation of Labour responds to provincial budget

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck in response to the Stefanson government’s 2022/23 Budget:

After years of cuts and underfunding by Brian Pallister and the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public services that working families count on are facing severe staffing shortages. 

Areas like health care need far more support than this budget provides to fix what this government has broken. And we are deeply concerned that this government continues to pursue a path of privatization when it comes to health care, rather than investing in building up the public system and investing in the workers who provide its services. 

It is unfortunate that this government continues Pallister’s approach when it comes to reducing revenue available for government to use to fund the public services we all count on. Continuing to borrow money to fund tax cuts that disproportionately benefit wealthy property owners just doesn’t make sense. 

At the same time, Manitoba’s economy is heading in the wrong direction. The latest Statistics Canada jobs numbers show that while national employment increased last month, our province lost over 4,000 jobs. And Manitoba has the worst year-over-year wage growth in the country. 

Manitobans are facing higher prices at the pumps and the grocery store, and working families are struggling to keep up with the cost of living. This budget is missing a plan to boost wages and create good, family-supporting jobs across our economy.  

After years of cuts and chaos from Brian Pallister, this budget misses the opportunity to reset the relationship between government and workers in our province. It’s time for this government to start working for working families. 

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April 1, 2022

MFL News

Manitoba has the second-lowest minimum wage in Canada

Statement by MFL President Kevin Rebeck in response to Manitoba officially dropping to the second-lowest minimum wage in the country:

Today, the Government of New Brunswick raised that province’s minimum wage by $1, the first of two $1 raises this year. This officially makes Manitoba’s minimum wage ($11.95) the second-lowest in all of Canada, a mere 14 cents above Saskatchewan’s minimum wage ($11.81). The Government of New Brunswick said having such a low minimum wage was “downright embarrassing.”  We agree.

No one should work full-time and still live in poverty, but that is exactly what is happening to thousands of workers in Manitoba right now because our minimum wage is too low. Now, we see a Progressive Conservative government in New Brunswick stepping up and saying that low-wage workers need a raise. 

Working families are concerned about the rising cost of living, and the increases in the price at the pumps and at the grocery store are hitting low-wage workers particularly hard. 

We think Manitoba workers are worth more than second last in the country, and we encourage the Stefanson government to stop following Brian Pallister’s lead and instead follow the approach of New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government. We need a government that works for working families, and that must include immediate plans to significantly raise our minimum wage to be a living wage. 

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You can find more information about minimum wages by province at: https://www.retailcouncil.org/resources/quick-facts/minimum-wage-by-province/

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