Update for members in Local 4471: We’re headed to conciliation

Dear member,

As you likely know, the Lead Table for the coordinated bargaining effort for CUPE members employed by the Department of Community Services reached a tentative agreement on March 6, 2024.

For our members at HomeBridge Youth Society, we are headed to conciliation for local bargaining. So far, we have had three total days of bargaining for Local 4471, between May 10, 2022, and September 28, 2022. During these dates, the employer was not willing to discuss monetary items—and some non-monetary items—specific to local bargaining, until the Lead Table had settled.

However, the employer is still not moving on the following items:

  • Definition of Team Leader
  • Seniority scheduling for part-time employees
  • Vacation
  • Bereavement Leave
  • Definition of Service – the employer has in fact put forward a proposal for this item, but it remains on the table as the bargaining team has not accepted the employer’s proposal.

We are currently seeking dates to return to conciliation (tentatively scheduled for June 13, 2024), but no date has been confirmed. Please look out for more updates on your local’s bargaining proceedings, and please also reach out to a member of your bargaining team if you have any questions.

Deal reached for lead table in DCS coordinated bargaining


The Long-Term Care and Community Services Coordinating Committee is glad to share that at Monday’s lead table bargaining meeting, we got a deal!

The Committee were at the table but, as always, this victory belongs to members. After three long years in bargaining—and many more without a fair contract—we are proud to have been able to secure a good deal for members in DCS.

This would not have been possible without the steadfast commitment of over twenty locals across Nova Scotia. Your unity, your resilience, and your power as workers is what pushed the provincial government to stop backtracking, to stop pushing for concessions, and to accept a deal.

We would also like to remind members that we are holding info sessions over Zoom to go over details at 5:30pm and 7:30pm tomorrow, March 7th. If you have not received the link and meeting details, please contact the Department of Community Services Coordinator, Kim Cail, at: kcail@cupe.ca.

The Committee would like to thank every single one of the 2,000 CUPE members in DCS for your strength, and your solidarity.

Thanks to your support and public pressure, we are going back to the table for a fair deal


As we were able to share with many members in two Zoom sessions this past Wednesday, we are going back to the bargaining table this coming Monday, March 4th.

We know it’s been an unbelievably long road, and we want to encourage members to stay strong, now more than ever. This is the first time that members in this sector have come together in a coordinated bargaining effort. When you’ve been pushed aside and ignored for so long, it can be hard to think about how important these moments are—not just for members, but for the entire sector, workers and clients alike. This is a historic round of bargaining, and employers know it.

Two weeks ago, the employer made a so-called “final” offer, after three years of prolonged negotiations. This offer directly targeted our coordinated bargaining effort across the sector by introducing concessions that would only apply to some members, as well as backtracking on previously agreed issues. These are typical tactics used to discourage members, drain our momentum and drag bargaining out even further.

They’re trying to push members in community services to their limit. But we pushed back. The Long-Term Care and Community Services Coordinating Committee has made it clear to the provincial government that we will only accept a fair deal for our members.

They wanted us to get tired. They wanted us to give up. They wanted you to get tired. They wanted you to give up.

But we did not give up. And you did not give up. And now the employer is ready to come back to the table, and we are ready to fight for a fair deal.

Since we launched our letter-writing campaign at DCSworkersdeservebetter.ca, almost 7,000 emails have been sent to our elected representatives in Nova Scotia. In the past two weeks, our campaign has reached 60,000 people across the province.

For every negative comment you see on social media, there are community members who see your contribution to Nova Scotia. For every day you’ve been waiting for a deal, there are thousands who are hearing our message that community services workers deserve better.

We encourage all members who have received their Department of Community Services sweaters to wear them to work on Monday. If you don’t have one, we ask that you wear all black and inform your coworkers to do the same.

As we mentioned in our last update, we want to keep you involved. If we don’t reach a fair deal on Monday, we have materials ready for members to make their voices heard.

You’ll hear from us after Monday’s bargaining meeting, and if the employer is not willing to make a fair deal to our members, get ready to bring the frustration you’ve been feeling to the phone.

Next Friday is Call-Your-MLA day for community services, and we will provide a phone script and information on how members and supporters can identify and contact their MLA.

Above all else, we hope you will remember this: You deserve better!

Latest offer from employer is an attack on our solidarity


The Long-Term Care and Community Services Coordinating Committee is incredibly grateful to our members in community services for their patience and support during the bargaining process and this week, while information about the employer’s latest offer is circulating. 

We know members have been waiting for months for this process to be concluded. And we know some of our members have been waiting for years for a wage increase. Workers in community services have been given far too little, for far too long. 

That’s why we are ready to fight for what we know our members deserve.  

The latest offer from the employer is a direct attack on our solidarity. They want our coordinated efforts in community services to fall apart, so that they can get away with giving workers less.  

This offer is full of concessions, it backtracks on several previously negotiated issues, and is an attempt to force us to negotiate two-tier benefits for our members.

We are preparing to respond, and we are planning actions. Community services has been pushed to the side for too long. It’s simply not fair that those doing similar work in other sectors should get something different than our members in DCS. Let’s show them that we are united and that we are motivated!  

We are putting together a Call-Your-MLA day as soon as possible and will have more information and instructions for members by the end of this week.  

We know you’re tired, we know you’re frustrated, and we know you’re angry—Who wouldn’t be? Let’s turn that anger into collective power. Let’s make sure the employers and this Government hear your frustration loud and clear.  

This has been a long, long road. But we want to take this moment to remind members that our goal in coordinated bargaining was to have strength in our solidarity. This is the first time in history that this Sector has shown government that they will just not accept “leftovers” from the Acute Care or Long-Term Care Sectors. 

You deserve better! 

It isn’t right that you don’t make the same wage as others doing similar work in other sectors. It isn’t right that you don’t have the same pension as your fellow members in this sector. It isn’t right that the employer is attempting to cause division among the locals by backtracking in their offer and dragging out bargaining even longer.  

They’re hoping we get tired. They’re hoping we give in. We won’t.  

We encourage members to remain steadfast in your demands, and firm in your solidarity. We can’t let them win. We’ve been in this together for years, let’s finish it together.  

PLEASE watch out for updates at your Local membership meetings, on CUPE’s or your local’s websites or Facebook pages, or from the Long-Term Care and Community Services Coordinating Committee or myself, the DCS coordinator.  

Interim update: Immediate next steps for DCS bargaining


As we continue to move forward with the coordinated bargaining effort in Community Services, we wanted to provide another short update to members on where we are in the process.  

The Executive of the Long-Term Care/Community Services Coordinating Committee is set to meet next Tuesday, February 6th. During this meeting, the Bargaining Committee will also be discussing outstanding items. 

The conciliation officer, assigned to the Lead Table, has been on vacation, returning to work next Monday, February 5th. 

The employer/Government stated that they should have an offer to present by the end of that week (this information comes from Gary Rankin, the lawyer negotiating for the employer).  

So, please watch out for additional updates in the coming weeks!  

Our thanks again to members for their ongoing support and engagement. We are pushing forward, and we are fighting for our members in community services.  

Update for members on coordinated bargaining effort in the Community Services sector


Thanks to our members for their patience and support as we continue to bargain for Locals in the Department of Community Services sector, with Local 3067 acting as Lead Table. Following a personal leave, the Coordinator for DCS, Kim Cail, is now back to work and we hope to have additional information for members very soon.

In the meantime, we ask that members sign and circulate the petition launched just before the Winter holidays. You can find the petition here: cupe.ca/community-services-workers-ns



We have also been working to develop digital campaigning resources for our members and encourage everyone to use our new logo for CUPE locals in the DCS sector on social media.

Employees at Resi-Care Cape Breton vote 100% in favour of job action

Man with down syndrome outdoors, there is counsellor assisting him.

Employees who work for Resi-Care in CBRM are united in their fight for fair wages and benefits after voting 100 percent in favour of possible strike action on Dec. 20. The approximately 114 employees are Residential Rehabilitation Workers who care for people with intellectual disabilities living in small options and group homes. They are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3008.

Bargaining broke down on December 15, says CUPE National Representative Tammy Martin, and the union has filed for conciliation. “Local issues still on the table include improvements to sick and berievement leave and for casual workers,” says Martin. In addition, the employees are asking to be paid appropriately for the time they spend taking residents to appointments in Halifax. “They may be gone for 36 hours and only be paid for 12,” she says. “That’s outrageous. Where else would an employer demand that kind of unpaid labour?”

Judy Musycsyn, president of CUPE Local 3008, says employees haven’t seen a wage increase in almost three years and are frustrated with how long it’s taking for government to deliver a wage package. “Why are we paid less than continuing care assistants when we have a wider scope of responsibilities?” she asks. “We order and administer medication, prepare and implement individual program plans, book and attend doctor’s appointments, and provide counselling. We deserve more than $20.33 an hour.”

Breton Ability employees in Sydney vote for possible strike

Employees at Breton Ability Centre could be out on the picket lines in the new year if they can’t come to an agreement on local issues. The employees held a strike vote last week and the vote was 98.5 percent in favour of possible job action. There are 338 employees at the residential centre, who care for adults with disabilities. They are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 3513, and funded by the Department of Community Services.

Kathy MacLeod, representative for CUPE, says the bargaining committee met with the employer in early December but were unable to come to agreement on several outstanding issues. “We have been promised conciliation dates, but in the meantime, the workers are frustrated with the lack of respect shown to them by both the employer and government,” says MacLeod. “Wages in this sector are well below what people are earning elsewhere for the same or similar work, and people are walking out for those better paying jobs.”

CUPE Local 3513 President Karen McMullen says the employees love the residents but the work is hard. “The jobs are very physical, but they also require a high level of skill and responsibility,” she says. “Along with managing personal hygiene, meals and activities, we also administer and manage medications and treatments. We often deal with high behaviours and may be exposed to violence. We deserve to be compensated fairly.”

The Breton Ability Centre is the second largest adult residential centre in the province. Along with residential care workers, the employee group comprises cooks, dietary workers, housekeepers, and laundry and maintenance workers.

Autism Society employees in Sydney vote for possible job action

Staff at the Society for Treatment of Autism voted 99 percent in favour of possible strike action on Monday. The residential care workers look after adults and children with Autism living in group homes in Sydney, North Sydney and Sydney Mines. They are funded by the Department of Community Services, and represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 4172.

CUPE National Representative Tammy Martin says in addition to supporting the wage demands at the lead table, the workers are willing to hit the street over local issues. “A key issue for these workers is that government won’t pay them for the after-hours time they spend with clients when bringing them to appointments in Halifax,” says Martin. “They are only paid for 16 hours, while the trip may take two and a half days. They feel taken advantage of. “

Martin says the employees’ last contract expired in March of 2021 and they have not seen a wage increase since that time.

Darren Bartlett, president of CUPE Local 4172 says the employees care deeply for their clients but they can’t continue to work this hard without fair wages and benefits. “Our jobs are physical and demanding,” says Bartlett. “We look after personal hygiene, cleaning, meals and snacks, perform health checks and administer medical treatments, including insulin injections and changing colostomy bags. We manage high behaviours, receive and order medications, manage tube feedings. It’s a lot for $20.33 an hour.”

Community Services workers launch online petition

Community services workers in Nova Scotia who work with disabled persons are hoping an online petition will help the public understand why this round of contract bargaining is so important. Talks have broken down between the government and the workers’ bargaining agent, the Canadian Union of Public Employees. The employees work at 21 different work sites across the province.

“This is a sector that’s already struggling to recruit and retain staff, and now government wants to lower wages for new employees,” says CUPE National Representative Kim Cail. “The work these people do is critical and challenging, and they deserve fair compensation and decent pensions.”

Christa Sweeney, chair of the Long-Term Care/Community Services Coordinating Committee, says the commitment the province has made to closing institutions and rehoming disabled adults and children in the community will require a major staffing adjustment. “This is wonderful and empowering for those who want to be able to make their own choices,” she says, “but how will government ensure that current employees and new hires are treated equally across the sector if we can’t achieve consensus on wages and benefits at the table now?”

The petition was launched today with a message to Community Services Minister Trevor Boudreau and Premier Tim Houston. It asks government to return to the bargaining table with a fair deal for the workers that acknowledges their hard work and dedication to their clients.

Sign the petition here: DCSWorkersDeserveBetter.ca­