President's Message

My turkey wishbone wish: keep your private sector forks away!

Publication Date

Friday, October 7, 2016 - 10:30am

Dear friends:

Our family’s annual Thanksgiving tradition is to stand and say what we’re thankful for, and no one can leave the table till they've had their say.

For me, I’ll be showing gratitude to all of those people who built and maintain our public services.

People like our parents and grandparents who built things like medicare and public utilities because they knew they’d make our communities safer, healthier, and more prosperous.

And the workers today who maintain and deliver public services – knowing it’s all worth protecting and saving.

Whether you’re talking about a hospital, highways, or the local hydro plant, never forget that if it’s a public service, we own it! We built it. We paid for it. And I hope we can do everything possible to protect it.

This is what I’ll wish for if I break the longer half of the turkey wishbone.

For a moment, I will forget about grim headlines such contracting-out at hospitals, the sell-off of hydro, or college education being overtaken by McDonald’s.

I’ll forget about all those misguided politicians trying to sell off public assets like they’re turnips to be harvested.

We must be thankful for our public services and public institutions – and not see them as ripening for eventual sale. They are as solid as the ground we stand on, and forever to be kept in public hands.

Some people make privatization sound as sweet as pie, promising that it will give us the sun and the moon and everything in between.

But we know from hard experience that all it really gives us is a lot less money and a whole lot more heartbreak.

Let’s not forget what Ontario’s auditor general said herself: she criticized Ontario’s bungled attempts at privatized projects and contracting out, reporting widespread waste and cost overruns that have run to $8 billion (and counting).

This is about more than just words on paper. Privatization costs people their jobs. It costs people their health and their safety. And it costs us oversight and control.

Let’s not forget how unpopular the Hydro One sell-off has been. Hydro prices are skyrocketing as the private sector seeks more profit.

Frankly, it makes Toronto’s Mayor John Tory’s idea of a Toronto Hydro sell-off sound as thick as gravy.

I hope that for years to come, the heavy feeling at Thanksgiving comes from rich food and not politicians hoping to cash in.

But for this weekend, as we settle in to cheer on the Jays, let’s set aside all the disappointing headlines swirling around Queen’s Park, and just take notice that there is a heck of a lot to be thankful for.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

This President's message also appeared in the Oct. 6 edition of The Toronto Sun. The following ad appeared in the Oct. 5 edition of The Sun:

OPSEU ad in Toronto Sun Oct. 2015

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