"It’s time for government to ensure that stable programming and adequate staffing levels are available to meet the diverse needs of Saskatchewan people.” — Bob Bymoen, SGEU President
Regina (27 May 2019) — Community workers represented by the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union (SGEU/NUPGE), SEIU-West, and CUPE Saskatchewan are asking people to lend their voices in support of their call on the Saskatchewan government to provide multi-year funding to our province’s community-based organizations (CBOs).
SGEU/NUPGE part of coalition urging government to provide stable, long-term funding for community services
“CBOs provide vital services to some of the most vulnerable people in our province,” says Bob Bymoen, SGEU President. “Despite this, our CBO sector has been shamefully underfunded for decades. It’s time for government to ensure that stable programming and adequate staffing levels are available to meet the diverse needs of Saskatchewan people.”
CBO workers care for people living with disabilities, respond to domestic violence calls, engage in suicide intervention, provide emergency child care, help people find employment, and more. Since December 2012, the Saskatchewan government has had a scatter-shot approach to budgeting in the CBO sector, but this inconsistent funding model is not enabling CBOs to provide stable, reliable programming for Saskatchewan’s most vulnerable people.
The absence of adequate, long-term funding has created a precarious financial situation for CBOs. They are unable to pay their frontline staff wages that keep up with inflation, and this negatively affects their ability to recruit and retain staff.
“Our members in the CBO sector work with people who are not on a one-year treatment or care plan,” says Barbara Cape, President of SEIU-West. “Their clients need services beyond a one-year budget cycle so funding should be committed over the course of two or more years. It is impossible to plan ahead without knowing how the next provincial budget will affect your ability to fund the necessary programs and staff to provide services.”
Social impact bond approach rewards private investors
Although the provincial government has expressed its support for the “social impact bond” model of CBO funding, this approach is expensive, overly complex, and focuses on the interests of private investors rather than CBOs and their clients. Social impact bonds are not a suitable solution to funding shortages.
“After years of underfunding CBOs, the provincial government continues to abdicate it's responsibility to the most vulnerable in our society,” says Tom Graham, President of CUPE Saskatchewan. “The government’s latest thought that Social Impact Bonds are a solution is in fact a non-starter. Social Impact Bonds are simply a way to put public money into private hands and do nothing to address the core funding issue. It’s time for the province to step up and provide a sustainable funding model so that CBOs, their frontline workers, and the people they care for receive the supports they deserve.”
CUPE, SGEU, and SEIU-West are calling on the provincial government to follow the lead that the government of Manitoba set with its Non-Profit Organization Strategy — a large-scale program that established over 100 multi-year funding agreements with CBOs. This strategy simplifies and stabilizes funding procedures, allowing government and CBOs to focus more resources on delivering services to those who need them.
How can you help? Sign the petition
The 3 unions are asking Saskatchewan people to take action by signing a petition in support of multi-year funding at http://bit.ly/CBOfunding. People can also use an online tool to send an email to the Ministers of Social Services, Education, Health and Justice at https://www.saskpeoplewhocare.org/cbo-news.
SEIU-West, CUPE, and SGEU/NUPGE represent people in 80 community agencies across the province and have been working together for more than a decade to support and promote workers in the CBO sector.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE