Islanders should vote for better social climate, says union leader

Jim Day
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The head of a large union in P.E.I. is urging Islanders to hit the polling stations in the next federal election to vote for a better social climate.

Lori MacKay, president of P.E.I. division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), says the big issue for most is the downward pressure the federal government is placing on the province.

"The transfer payments aren't keeping up to what's needed,'' says MacKay.

"So health care is a real concern for Islanders.''

She adds changes Ottawa made to the employment insurance have had a significant impact on communities across P.E.I.

The number one way to respond to these concerns, she says, is to vote in the next federal election on Oct. 19, 2015.  

MacKay feels Stephen Harper's government is not listening to Atlantic Canadians.

"Nobody would be surprised with my thoughts around the Conservative government of Canada and some of the detrimental things they are doing to social programs,'' she says.

MacKay is not concerned by the fact that Islanders typically do not protest in large numbers. She just hopes they vote in droves.

"I keep focusing on the fact that we need to keep educating people,'' she says.

"People are really, ultimately I think, really fearful about the future in so many different ways. And when people get fearful, some choose to stand up and protest but probably the majority choose to be quiet because they don't know really where to start.''

"Nobody would be surprised with my thoughts around the Conservative government of Canada and some of the detrimental things they are doing to social programs.'' Lori MacKay, president of P.E.I. division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees

MacKay spoke with The Guardian Monday while taking part in an annual Labour Day picnic in Charlottetown hosted by the P.E.I. Federation of Labour.

Members were on hand from several unions, including the Union of Public Sector Employees, CUPE, United Food and Commercial Workers, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, and the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

People gathered for free food, music and a few speeches.

"The purpose of the picnic is to bring people together...it's a fun day,'' says MacKay.

She believes the work climate in P.E.I. is relatively good, adding CUPE for one currently enjoys a healthy relationship with the province.

Still, collective bargaining remains a tough process, she adds.

Labour Day facts

-- The origins of Labour Day can be traced back to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada's first significant demonstration for worker's rights.

-- The holiday is celebrated in Canada on the first Monday of September.

-- While Labour Day originally gave workers the chance to campaign for better working conditions or pay, the day is now largely viewed as being part of a long weekend for many Canadians.

Organizations: Canadian Union of Public Employees, P.E.I. Federation of Labour, Union of Public Sector Employees United Food Commercial Workers Postal Workers Public Service Alliance of Canada Toronto Trades Assembly

Geographic location: P.E.I., Canada, Ottawa Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • townie2
    September 02, 2014 - 19:28

    seems to be a disproportionate number of CPC supporters commenting, providing they only got 36% (and currently falling) in the last federal election, guess the majority is just staying silent and laughing while waiting for the next federal election. don't get me wrong, i have no problem voting for the PC Party, but the CPC has gone too far.

  • Jack
    September 02, 2014 - 17:49

    The problems the have-not provinces are experiencing are mainly due to public service unions. I'll give an example: the Feds send another $20 million to PEI for Health Care. The VAST majority of that goes down the toilet, by being taken by the greedy unions, leaving virtually nothing for capital purchases etc. Until the taxpayers begin to say no, this will go on..The solution: a. freeze all PS wages for 5 years. and b. no Federal and Provincial employee is allowed to be in a union. Then and only then, will the provinces, and nation, get their books in order.

  • Fred Affleck
    September 02, 2014 - 09:00

    I see by some of the comments a lot of Harper apoloogists and Tory hanger oners are out in full force . Getting there message across . I wonder what these people think of Harper and the Mike Duffy affair .

    • so sad
      September 02, 2014 - 18:21

      the ghiz affair

  • @ big picture looker
    September 02, 2014 - 08:03

    The increase in tourism this year went to Charlottetown & not the rest of the island. Ghiz & Wessie made sure Ch'town only rocked it out.

  • enough already
    September 01, 2014 - 18:42

    I am shocked! People on here commenting that are not sucked into the liebral line that Harper is starving P.E.I.. This is great to see Islanders are opening their eyes to the lies.

  • John W.A. Curtis
    September 01, 2014 - 18:33

    P.E.I.'S Unions and Canadian Premiers are cut fro the same cloth. Canada ( federal government and provinces) collectively is one trillion dollars in debt. Neither the provinces or unions have solutions to pay down the one trillion dollar debt but all demand more government spending.

  • John
    September 01, 2014 - 18:11

    How is it a federal problem if the provincial government cannot balance their books? Ei should be cut off to anyone able to work until every job is filled before foreign workers are brought in! # of people sitting at home waiting for the ei handout is getting out of hand !

  • augusta
    September 01, 2014 - 17:11

    sorry, Harper is my man, ---- as the man said, the two 'liberal boys' (rich men's sons) are done playing, as far as I am concerned.

  • Bert
    September 01, 2014 - 16:53

    The Federal Government has given more monies to our Province in the past four years and we still can't balance the budget. It is obvious that Robert and Wes can't do the job , and if they are left after next election , than we can be assured that we will not be a Province. The Government spending is out of control and these two dudes can't stop this needless spending. They do like to party on our ticket.

    • Big Picture Looker
      September 01, 2014 - 22:15

      If you look across Canada, most other provinces are also running deficits. Challenge is it takes time to recover from the recession when could not cut healthcare and education spending and having to deal with government pensions. A portion of money for 2014 celebrations came from the Federal government and these celebrations significantly increased tourism.

  • Bert
    September 01, 2014 - 16:52

    The Federal Government has given more monies to our Province in the past four years and we still can't balance the budget. It is obvious that Robert and Wes can't do the job , and if they are left after next election , than we can be assured that we will not be a Province. The Government spending is out of control and these two dudes can't stop this needless spending. They do like to party on our ticket.

  • Labour pains
    September 01, 2014 - 16:51

    The Island's major industries are seasonal, just like 100 years ago. Who we send to Ottawa won't change that. PEI needs to develop those industries where travel distance doesn't put us at a competitive disadvantage, like computers and biotech. Bring in higher-paying jobs that don't depend on which way the political winds are blowing. And if we don't get a handle on the growing drug culture soon, a lot of things will start to break down.

  • stupid voter
    September 01, 2014 - 16:14

    who would you rather vote for -harper or ghiz -i voted for ghiz --his buddy trudeau wants me to vote for ghiz again !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! --good luck with that sonny boys -----right now harper and myers are the least of all evils--

  • don
    September 01, 2014 - 15:38

    Lori MacKay. you are joking right? if you think a immature kid as leader of the liberals both on PEI and federally. can do any better. one is only in for his friends and the other is a weed smoker. and the 3rd is LOL. and for your union i'm sure you are getting a big pay and extras, and who's back are you getting it from? the working poor. and if your friend in the liberals did not donate so much money to the rich we would have more money for health and our kids but maybe you should sit back and rethink your pay are you really earning it?

  • Armond N
    September 01, 2014 - 15:21

    Is this supposed to be comedic or just Liberal dogma? The problem on PEI is not a lack of transfer payment size, nor has it been that for the past 10yrs. It is a problem of governance and spending. We are slightly over 3 Billion in debt now for a province of ~140,000. This would be comedic if it wasn't so tragic and attempts to place blame on anyone or anything else other then ourselves is the same ignorance that got us in this mess to begin with.