(Prepared by CEIU Regional Administrative Assistant, Jess Rugiano-Ly)
The Canada Employment and Immigration Union (CEIU) Ontario Region, a component of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), held its 2023 Southwest District Conference at the DoubleTree Hilton in Windsor, ON from October 13 to October 15, 2023.
At the conference this year, there were 12 delegates representing 8 of the 11 locals from the Southwest region in Ontario in addition to 4 members from the CEIU Ontario Regional Council. There were a handful of first-time delegates as well.
Corrina Gavan, Ontario Regional Council’s Indigenous representative, and chair of the CEIU Ontario First Nations, Metis, Inuit Committee (FNMI) provided the conference’s Indigenous opening with a reading from One Drum by Richard Wagamese.
During the Indigenous opening, a moment of silence for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People.
CEIU Ontario Southwest district representative Lyle Gall opened the conference by welcoming all delegates and opening the floor to all delegates to introduce themselves and briefly share and discuss successes and challenges from their respective locals.
Corrina Gavan, Ontario Regional Council’s Indigenous representative, and chair of the CEIU Ontario First Nations, Metis, Inuit Committee (FNMI) provided a report highlighting events and activism that the FNMI committee and CEIU Ontario region members and executives have engaged in during the past cycle.
Julie Nanquil, CEIU Ontario Region’s 1st Alternate NVP, and chair of the CEIU Ontario Women’s Committee then spoke on behalf of CEIU Ontario NVPS Lisa Prescott and Phil Matheson as both were absent due to National Executive Meetings occurring during the same day.
She commended the Southwest locals and executives for their work and engagement during the strike that occurred earlier this year. She also spoke on the importance of allyship as union members and activists not just towards equity and diversity causes, but also towards the other CEIU regions as well.
Julie spoke on the importance and prioritization of in-person engagement from the executive standpoint, especially following the strike action that occurred in April of this year. She heavily encouraged the delegates in attendance to consider starting more in-house committees at the local level.
The afternoon of the first day of the conference commenced and concluded with Local Administration Training facilitated by National Union Representative, Sean McNeil. Sean delivered engaging training and facilitation to the delegates in attendance. Sean opened the floor for questions related to local administration during and following the training.
Day 2 of the conference started with Southwest district representative Lyle Gall delivering his district representative report. Lyle effectively summarized his duties, activities, and various participation as the Southwest district representative for CEIU Ontario. He encouraged the delegates to invite the CEIU Ontario NVPs and other ORC members to executive and general local union meetings while also stressing the importance of having a local executive on each Joint Occupational Safety and Health Committee in the workplace. Lyle also shared photos and his experiences from political and social activism as the Southwest district representative from the past cycle including but not limited to: CLC 2023, Chatham Pride, Windsor Pride, Windsor Labour Day Parade and National Truth & Reconciliation Day. Lyle shared his next steps and goals going forward as the Southwest District Representative and member of the Ontario Regional Council.
The delegates of the conference then gave a warm welcome to guest speaker Irene Moore Davis who is an educator, historian, writer, podcaster, and community advocate from the Windsor-Essex region and descendent of Black pioneers who settled in Southwestern Ontario, including Sandwich, in the nineteenth century. Irene delivered an engaging and educational presentation on the history of black settlers in the Windsor region, the role of the Windsor-Essex region in the underground railroad and many local monuments, murals and statues.
PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President (REVP) for Ontario region, Craig Reynolds addressed the delegates next. Craig provided updates on the three new PSAC equity committees for the Southwest region and thanked delegates Trinh and Wood for their work and effort on getting those committees started. Craig Reynolds spoke to the importance of local executives engaging and encouraging their members to participate in PSAC regional committees He also briefly touched upon the upcoming 2024 PSAC National Convention, finances for PSAC Ontario region and possible resolutions for next year’s PSAC National Convention. Craig then concluded his presentation by opening the floor to delegates to ask questions and voice concerns regarding union and labour activism, union and labour movement priorities, the strike that occurred in April 2023, collective bargaining and other issues related to union membership.
Delegates Trinh and Wood then delivered their reports as PSAC region 4 representatives speaking on recent area elections, passed resolutions and course offerings in the London PSAC area. They provided updates on the new PSAC social justice fund and potential presentations and offerings for call centre and front-end staff.
Ontario Regional Council Member Sarita Censoni then delivered her report as the CEIU Ontario Region Human Rights Race Relations Representative to the conference speaking on challenges faced by both call centre front end staff. Sarita spoke passionately about union, labour and human rights movement and activism as well as the importance of member engagement and training.
The afternoon of the second day of the conference commenced with Julie Nanquil delivering her report as the Chair of the CEIU Ontario Women’s Committee. Julie delivered an engaging report and shared pieces about herself as a person and activist. She spoke on the importance of allyship to all equity groups and how progress for Women furthers progress for all. Julie spoke on many of the accomplishments completed by the committee including a multi-day training done in August and collaborations done with other standing committees. She then ended her presentation by opening the floor to questions from delegates and encouraging delegates to encourage their own members to participate in the Women’s standing committee for CEIU Ontario Region.
The second day of the conference concluded with Southwest District Lyle Gall delivering Health & Safety Training to the delegates. Lyle reviewed and spoke about health & safety fundamentals, policies, employee training needs, documentation, and workplace hazards. The second part of the training focused on stress in the workplace with topics such as: stress vs. stressor, social support, coping with stress, and effects of stress.
The third and final day of the conference began with Scott McIntosh, ESDC representative from the Ontario Regional Council delivering his remarks and report. Scott gave his thoughts and an overview of his activities as the ESDC representative over the past cycle year. Scott spoke about some of the major challenges with the employer as well as goals for the next year coming. Scott went into detail in regard to health and safety concerns both inside and outside of ESDC such as having less commissionaires at Service Canada centres and other front-facing buildings, 1070 form tracking, and psychosocial injury and hazards. He stressed the importance of local executives sharing concerns with national and Ontario regional union representatives to ensure that these issues can be addressed at conversations with the employer and at the national table. Scott spoke about his experience from this past year’s CEIU National Convention and spent some time thanking past National Executive Vice President Crystal Warner for her work and advocacy in the labour and equity movements. He also spoke about the upcoming 2023 CEIU Ontario Presidents’ Conference and encouraged the Southwest delegates to support the budget that will be presented at the upcoming conference as well as being creative with the resolution submissions. Scott concluded his report by thanking Southwest District Representative Lyle Gall for organizing the conference and opening the floor to questions.
Delegate Trinh then delivered a report on the CEIU Ontario Racialized Action Committee on behalf of their chair Cameron. She spoke on the goals and mandates of the standing committee this past cycle and this upcoming year including events such as conferences, trainings, and conventions, attended by the committee. She also spoke on the committee’s effort in connecting with members and how the committee looked forward to working together with all members to combat racism and discrimination. Delegate Trinh then concluded her report by sharing that the committee will have spots open for elections at the upcoming CEIU Ontario Presidents’ Conference.
Delegate Dupuis then presented her report as the Alternate National Vice President for IRCC. Delegate Dupuis was recently elected and thus did not have much to summarize and share during her report but did share that one of her biggest goals was to bring IRCC specific issues and concerns to the CEIU National and Regional tables. She spoke on the ongoing restructuring occurring at IRCC and its effects on all members. Delegate Dupuis then addressed questions and concerns from the delegates in regard to the restructuring as she also expressed her concerns with the employer’s use of artificial intelligence in the IRCC restructuring. Delegate Wood shared with the delegates during this question period that the concerns of work automation and artificial intelligence use by the employer should be a standing item at all LUMCC’s which all delegates agreed with.
Delegate Lamont then presented his report as the Chair of the CEIU Ontario Collective Bargaining Committee. He spoke on the mandate and goals of the committee and how those were carried out during the past cycle and the strike that occurred this past year. Barry also shared about the committees Facebook page and answered questions and concerns from the delegates.
Scott McIntosh then shared on behalf of the CEIU Ontario Health & Safety committee that there would be a survey sent out by CEIU National to members regarding Health & Safety and encouraged all delegates to have their members complete the survey.
Delegate Harrisson then shared her report as the treasurer of the CEIU Ontario Front-End Committee. She shared concerns and challenges faced not just by the Front-End Committee but by many and almost all front-end and client-facing staff. Delegate Harrisson then shared that a 39-page report regarding these issues and challenges has been compiled by committee member Raymond Motee and that this report is able to be shared upon request. Francine also shared that the committee was planning a meet and greet, most likely to take place in London. She also shared that the committee needs more support and engagement from members in front-end and client-facing roles to ensure that their mandates and concerns are pushed forward.
Delegate Wood then shared briefly as a member of the CEIU Ontario Differently Abled Committee. He shared that their chair was stepping down and that there will be elections upcoming for their role and other roles in the committee.
Sarita Censoni then spoke on behalf of the CEIU Ontario 2SLGBTQIA+ committee and their need for additional members. Delegates there were encouraged to inform their members of the standing committees and the upcoming elections.
Delegate Trinh then shared a brief report from the PSAC London Women’s Committee, sharing that the committee had recently completed their elections and that she had been elected as chair of the committee. She informed the delegates that members outside of London, within the Southwest District were more than welcome to attend meetings and encouraged the delegates in attendance to inform their members about the committee as well.
Lyle Gall then shared a brief report for the PSAC Windsor District Area Council. Lyle shared that the council was expecting to have elections upcoming and that strong representation from CEIU on the council is always encouraged. Delegates in attendance were encouraged by Lyle to encourage their own local members to attend the regional council meetings when able to.
Delegate Harrisson then presented brief updates for the Hamilton-Niagara Regional Women’s Committee.
The third and final day of the conference concluded with resolution discussions and votes. The first resolution passed was in regard to CEIU Ontario Family Care policy submitted by Delegate Rylett and seconded by Delegate Ducedre. Delegates Gall, Reyes, Wood, Johnson, Trinh and Kelso spoke to the resolution. Delegate Reyes did motion to amend the resolution which was seconded by delegate Lamont but the amendment was voted down unanimously. This resolution passed unanimously and will be sent to the table at the upcoming Ontario Presidents’ Conference.
Lyle Gall then motioned for a new resolution, also regarding CEIU Ontario Family Care policy. The resolution was seconded by Delegate Reyes and all delegates voted unanimously to pass the resolution and send it to the table at the upcoming Ontario Presidents’ Conference.