Welcome to the Winter 2022 edition of Public Employee. Though you will receive this issue well before January 1, I want to extend my best wishes to all CUPE members in B.C. for a very Happy New Year. Of course we hope that, as 2022 begins, we will start to see the COVID-19 pandemic more in the rear view mirror and less in the daily news.
As we say goodbye to 2021, our focus now is on advocating for public childcare. Childcare is a critical public service for everyone, regardless of whether they have young kids—or whether they have kids at all. I don’t have kids of my own, but I see childcare as an issue of economic fairness. We’re now advocating for childcare for school-aged kids (5–12) to be located in public schools throughout B.C. For the full details about our campaign, see the cover feature on pages 8–11 and visit publicchildcarenow.ca.
Climate crisis impacts close to home
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic and the epidemic of opioid overdose deaths, British Columbians have been hit hard by the impacts of the climate crisis this year. The worst wildfire season in provincial history — as an aside, when did we get used to there being something called “wildfire season” in the first place? — along with a heat dome that caused so many deaths, was followed by catastrophic floods and mudslides that also killed people and caused billions of dollars of damage in destroyed homes, livestock, and infrastructure.
We all have a responsibility to do our part to tackle climate change. It’s obviously moved past the warning signs — the climate emergency is here in our communities, and we need to listen to the scientists who have been ringing the alarm bells and take collective action. In the meantime, CUPE BC continues to draw inspiration from the efforts of our members in response to these disasters, and we’ve established a Disaster Relief Fund to support members who’ve been impacted by them (see opposite).
Since being elected as your president, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with cabinet ministers, senior bureaucrats and political staff in Victoria, and to present our views on a wide range of issues. I was also able to join other officers of the BC Federation of Labour at a rally at the Legislature in support of 10 days’ employer-provided paid sick leave for all workers. It’s unfortunate that the campaign fell short — the government announced that it would be implementing five days of paid sick leave — but we will continue our push to have the program expanded to 10 days.
On my bookshelf
In the interest of promoting both literacy and the work of our members at public libraries, I thought I’d use this space to share what I’m reading right now. I hope you can check out one or more of these titles at your local library or independent bookstore: Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson, Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead, and Falling For Myself by Dorothy Ellen Palmer.