President’s New Year’s Message 2016
What a difference a year makes! And what a difference we can make when we choose to work together!
Last year at this time, I wrote to you about the challenges we faced confronting a federal government determined to rig collective bargaining, push through anti-labour laws, silence scientists, and stifle evidence-based public policy. I wrote about our determination – overwhelmingly backed by our 2014 annual general meeting (AGM) – to become more politically engaged and to educate Canadians about the need to vote for change in the federal election scheduled for October 19.
Since that election, the changes we’ve advocated so passionately for in recent years have begun to be implemented, some with astonishing speed. First was the announcement of the reinstatement of the mandatory long-form census – the cancellation of which in 2010 signalled as clearly as any decision by the Harper government its contempt for evidence-based public policy. Next came the announcement – on the final day of our 2015 AGM – that federal scientists were once again free to speak to the media and the public. (Not only that, but the new government had earlier introduced a cabinet comprised of not one but two science ministers – and a minister of the environment and climate change.) And earlier this week, as a first step towards meeting its campaign promise to repeal anti-labour bill C-377, the new government announced changes that nullified the bill’s application to unions.
These and other recent announcements by the new government are well worth celebrating. And they go a tremendous way towards demonstrating not simply the “real change” promised by the new government but the real value – in fact, the necessity – of engaged union members like you in making and influencing the change we as professionals and Canadians want to see – in our workplaces, in our government, and in our country.
But as our experiences of the past ten years and our hopes for the future have also made clear, much remains to be done. That’s why your continued engagement in PIPSC, especially in our public interest bargaining efforts, is so important not only to our own but to all Canadians’ future success. That’s why we will continue to insist that including “scientific integrity” provisions in our collective agreements is our best safeguard against attempts in the future to muzzle scientists, that reinvestment in efforts to investigate and pursue offshore tax cheats is both the responsible and essential thing to do to ensure tax fairness, that contracting out is a false economy that threatens the security of Canadians’ data, that workplace wellness should not be based on for-profit models of health insurance, and that pension reform should never entail abandoning defined benefit pensions.
That’s the kind of change that working together can bring. That’s the difference we can introduce when we focus on making things better. And it’s what happens when we work together.