Province denies request from striking MYS to use its own surplus to up wages

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The province will not authorize plans for a wage increase for staff from Macdonald Youth Services’ crisis stabilization program, the organization revealed Tuesday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/08/2016 (2183 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The province will not authorize plans for a wage increase for staff from Macdonald Youth Services’ crisis stabilization program, the organization revealed Tuesday.

Nearly 30 employees from the program, which offers crisis services to Manitoba children, youth and families, have been on strike since Aug. 2. Staff are requesting a two per cent wage increase for each of four years, and have been without a contract since March 31, 2014.

On Monday, the province officially denied a request from Macdonald Youth Services management to use its own annual surplus funding to boost pay. In the same statement, it advised the agency as a whole would receive no funding increases for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

ZACHARY PRONG / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Michelle Gawronsky, second from left, the president of the Manitoba Government and General Employees Union (MGEU) surrounded by Macdonald Youth Services (MYS) Crisis Stabilization members and supporters during a rally on August 12, 2016.

Macdonald Youth Services CEO Erma Chapman said management supports the adjustment, but needs provincial approval to spend surplus money. She said the plan received verbal approval from the provincial NDP in April of this year, but nothing was finalized when government changed. Now, she said she doesn’t know what the organization can do to meet the demand.

“I have no idea,” she said over the phone Tuesday. “In terms of any options to resolve this, we are funded at a certain amount to provide the service, we have been working with that amount, now, this will be our fourth operating year with the same amount of money. People get paid their wage but it obviously is not a large enough amount to provide the wage adjustment as request by the union.”

“The province is currently the sole funder of the Youth Crisis Stabilization System program at Macdonald Youth Services. Funding has remained static since April 2013 at $2.4 million per year.

A provincial spokeswoman said Macdonald Youth Services’ request to the current PC government was made only recently.

“While Child and Family Services is not the employer here, it is responsible for ensuring the value of its funding to service providers. In this instance, the request to use surplus funds was only recently brought to our attention,” she wrote. “Funds given to Macdonald Youth Services by Manitoba taxpayers are intended to be used for specific projects and programming and it is the expectation of our government that MYS will ensure those dollars are utilized as intended.”

“Unfortunately the NDP routinely created false and unrealistic expectations on broader funding commitments in labour relations matters,” wrote the spokeswoman.

MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky said one way or another, either Macdonald Youth Services or the province needs to take responsibility for negotiations.

“Let’s get this straight. The CEO for the employer doesn’t see a role for herself or the organization she leads in negotiating a fair contract with her own staff. The provincial government has said it can’t get involved, but behind the scenes, has been actively blocking a resolution,” Gawronsky said in a statement Tuesday.

Macdonald Youth Services management was set to meet with MGEU officials Tuesday afternoon.

In the meantime, Chapman said the crisis stabilization centre is offering reduced services, which she said places increased pressure on police and Child and Family Services to respond to calls they would ordinarily divert to Macdonald Youth Services. Chapman said the centre’s goal is to keep kids out of contact with the CFS system, but that’s not happening with limited staff.

Last year, the Youth Crisis Stabilization Centre responded to 6,000 calls from Manitoba youth, and attended 1,400 crisis calls.

– with files from Alexandra Paul

aidan.geary@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 2:32 PM CDT: Updates headline

Updated on Tuesday, August 16, 2016 9:30 PM CDT: story updated

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