Autumn View Edition 1, 2017

A message from the chair

On March 1, 2017, we lost a Brother. A Brother who was so significant to OPSEU and the union movement that his loss cannot be measured in the time he dedicated to OPSEU or his many accomplishments, but is measured in the strength he gave us and the direction he put us in.

Brother Fred Upshaw’s history as a unionist and a leader is well known to those of you who are part of the Retired Members Division. As the past President of OPSEU and the first Black leader of a major union, he led us through key issues such as Rae Days, forcing the government to save thousands of jobs, and the formation of OPSEU Pension Trust, which for the first time gave us control of our pensions in the Ontario Public Service and at other Crown agencies.

He also played a significant part in the formation of the Retired Members Division and it is for that reason and his many years of service as Region 3 Chair of the Retired Members Division, that I will most remember him.

When I joined the executive of the Retired Members Division in 2002, he was a giant on an executive made up of members whose whole lives where dedicated to OPSEU. He was not the chair and chose not to run for the position, but he was without a doubt the most predominant member there.

I will miss the debates with him in caucus. I will miss listening to him at the mike with his deep velvet voice so eloquently arguing our point, but most of all I will miss his support, his laughter and his friendship.

Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU Retired Members Division

CEO pay sets new record: study

The average CEO made $49,510 by 11:47 am. on January 3, 2017. Salary for CEOs increased 178 per cent between 1998 and 2015. Canada's 100 highest-paid CEOs have set a new record: their total compensation in 2015 hit a new high at $9.5 million, on average, according to a new report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).

The report shows Canada's 100 highest-paid CEOs on the TSX index now make 193 times more than someone earning an average wage.

Public outcry has no effect

"Although public outrage over exorbitantly high CEO pay continues unabated, especially since the Great Recession of 2008-09, CEO pay in Canada takes a licking and keeps on ticking," says economist Hugh Mackenzie. “ln 2015, CEO pay set a new record, with only one factor threatening new heights: an unpredictable global economy," Mackenzie said.

The report's findings about the highest-paid 100 CEOs in Canada show that:

  • They earn the average Canadian's wage ($49,510) by 11:47 am. on January 3.
  • The average Joe or Jane will have to work full-time all year to earn that amount.
  • The average earnings of Canada's corporate top 100 increased by 178 per cent between 1998 and 2015.
  • The glass ceiling still exists in this elite club: only two women made it in the top 100 rankings in 2015.

"These salaries are a clear indication that income inequality remains a major problem for our country," says Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). "But it doesn't seem to matter how much evidence we provide that this inequality is damaging to our society, our governments are not moving on solutions that will make a dent in the crisis."

Government needs to step in

"I've been tracking CEO pay in Canada for 10 years and nothing has changed," says Mackenzie. "CEO pay keeps soaring, luxe stock option, pension and bonus packages remain the gold standard for CEOs, and despite public outrage, neither corporate boards nor shareholders are stepping in to put a lid on things.

"In the absence of corporate leadership, it falls to government to bring in laws to put a cap on the incentives fuelling soaring CEO compensation packages." Mackenzie says Canada should take a cue from Portland, Oregon, which is going to charge a surtax on companies with a CEO-to-worker pay gap that's 100 times or more.  

- This article taken from the NUPGE website

Ontario Divisional Court victory for part-time college support workers

"This isn't the end of the struggle, but its one step closer to getting these workers what they deserve." - Marilou Martin, OPSEU chair, college support workers division

Toronto (13 Dec. 2016)— On December 9, in a rebuke of the College Employer Council's (CEC) delay tactics, the Ontario Divisional Court dismissed the CEC's application to overturn the Ontario Labour Relations Board's (OLRB) decision to hold a vote for part-time college workers in June.

The CEC had asked the court to set aside the ballots cast in June and order a new vote, an application that the Court denied.

Colleges still fighting part-time workers' right to collective bargaining

'We're glad to see the Court support the right of the OLRB to make that decision," said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU). "It's just a shame that these workers have had to wait six months already. And despite the ruling, these workers still face further delays, as the employer continues to throw up roadblocks in the way of getting their votes counted."

"For now, however, we're just glad to see the court recognize the right of the folks at the OLRB to do their job."

The application by the CEC last summer for a judicial review is just one of several attempts by the employer to delay or derail the OLRB process.

Part-time college workers looking to bargain for decent working conditions, equal pay, sick time

Marilou Martin, chair of the union's college support workers division, celebrated the decision as one step closer to representation for part-time workers at Ontario's public colleges.

"These workers aren't asking for a lot," said Martin. "They just want decent working conditions, the right to take a day off when they're sick, to get paid equally for doing equal work, and to be allowed to bargain together to get a fair deal from their employer."

"This isn't the end of the struggle, but its one step closer to getting these workers what they deserve," Martin said.

- This article was taken from the NUPGE website:

Dealing with debt before (or during) retirement    

"Baby boomers," one of the wealthiest generations in history, are heading into retirement. They're ready to kick back and finally enjoy the fruits of their labours. Yet despite the lure of an early and active retirement, for many, the picture isn't as rosy as expected. In fact, a record number of retired or soon-to-be-retired Canadians owe more than ever before.

According to Statistics Canada, 70 per cent of people aged 55 to 64 were carrying debt in 2012, an increase from 61 per cent in 1999. In the over-65 crowd, debt rates climbed to 42 from 27 per cent over the same period, with the average debt load increasing by 94 per cent.

How did this happen? One contributing factor is that we're living longer; the average life expectancy of Canadians has grown by 24.6 years since 1921. There are simply more years of retirement to fund. The economic environment has also changed over the last few decades, leading many baby boomers to offer their children or grandchildren financial assistance, such as helping out with down payments on a home or university tuition. On top of these changes, the 2008 financial crisis was tough on most investment portfolios.

Debt can be a source of stress during retirement, but there are ways to manage it. If you or someone you know is worried about debt, here are just a few strategies to consider.

Consolidating debt

Consolidation is often a feasible option, particularly if your debt is in the form of high-interest credit cards rather than a mortgage. Consolidating debt means using a lower-interest rate option, such as a line of credit or personal loan, to pay off a higher-interest debt. A loan's regular payment schedule means you could repay debt much faster than by making minimum payments on your credit card.

Using home equity

A home equity line of credit could be a good way to help reduce the interest cost of your debt, assuming its interest rate is lower than the rate on your current loans. A home equity line of credit can also offer you access to money to manage unexpected expenses, helping you avoid having to sell long-term investments to meet a short-term need.

Home downsizing or relocating

Consider whether you need the size and space of your existing home in retirement. Can you afford to stay in an expensive urban centre? A smaller, less expensive property or something in a less costly neighbourhood may suit your needs just as well. Why not take a look at listings in other neighbourhoods, or attend open houses for smaller properties near you? You might be surprised by what you find!

Taking on a tenant

If your heart is set on staying in your current home, but you still have mortgage payments to make, you might want to consider the potential for rental income. Many urban areas have low rental vacancy rates, which could mean good rental income for you. But becoming a landlord is not as simple as just renting out a spare room or a basement apartment - you must adhere to zoning bylaws and consider tenant rights. It's a good idea to consult with a legal advisor to help you understand all you need to know.

Working part-time or delaying retirement

If you are already retired, why not consider working part-time? It can be an excellent way to supplement your retirement income. Plus, work has the added bonus of keeping you engaged. You could learn new skills, gain a new sense of purpose, and deepen your connection to your community. If you're still working, you could think about delaying retirement by a few years, or "easing" into retirement by reducing hours or shifting to contract work.

Helping protect assets from creditors

While you are striving to pay off debts, you will want to ensure that your assets are protected. In the case of bankruptcy, as long as assets remain in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), they may be protected from creditors.

That protection applies to locked-in plans as well, such as Locked-in Retirement Accounts (LIRAs), Life Income Funds (LIFS) and Locked-in Retirement Income Funds (LRIFs). Consult a tax or legal advisor about your individual circumstances.

It's never too late to start

If you've got concerns about debt and retirement, speak to your advisor. He or she can recommend solutions and strategies to help you reduce or eliminate your debt while protecting your assets.

The federal government provides protection to RRSPs and RRIFs in the event of bankruptcy with the exception of contributions made within 12 months of declaring bankruptcy which are not protected. Other protection may be available under provincial legislation.

www.mckinsey.com/gIoba-themes/empIoyment-and-growth/taIkin-bout-my-gener...
Doug Owram, Born at the Right Time (toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997).

Statistics Canada, February 25, 2014, Survey of Financial Security, 2012, The Daily, www.statcan.gc.caldaily-quotidien/140225/dq140225b-eng.h1m (accessed May 5, 2016) 'Statistics Canada’

“Ninety years of change in life expectancy”, catalogue no. 82-624-X, last updated November 27, 2015, www.statcan.gc.calpubl82-624-oJ2014001/articlell4009-eng.htm (accessed June 6, 2016).

Facebook Pages

The retired member’s executive has started Facebook pages. We have three so far with more to come. Please don’t expect a lot for a bit.  We are just figuring it out!

OPSEU Provincial Retired Members Division
Region One OPSEU Retirees
OPSEU Retired Members Division - Region 7

Prevent and protect

How to guard against online financial fraud                             

Your email alert pings and you read this: 

"As part of our efforts to protect your account, it has come to our attention that your online banking profile needs updating. Simply click on the link below..."

The message looks legit. It bears your bank's logo and other identifying information. But the last thing you should do is click on the link or key in any personal information.

This email is an example of "phishing," which is just one of many ways that online criminals aim to defraud individuals and businesses. Clicking the link could download a virus into your computer. Or it could lead you to a fraudulent website that obtains your personal information so that others can gain access to your financial accounts.

A global issue

Online financial fraud is a growing international criminal enterprise. Often it's committed by sophisticated organized crime networks, with proceeds funding such illegal activities as drugs and weapons trafficking, prostitution and money laundering. Fraudsters often pose as legitimate organizations, family members in distress or peddlers of get-rich-quick schemes. They may ask for money directly, but just as often their goal is to steal your identity. Armed with personal data, scammers can open new bank accounts, transfer funds and apply for loans, credit cards, passports and government benefits - all under your name!

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 42,000 complaints in 2014, representing some 14,000 victims and reported loses of over $74 million.  One estimate pegs the global cost of cybercrime at more than US$400 billion annually. The good news is you can take steps to protect yourself from cyber bad guys.

Keep your information safe

A few common-sense barriers can help you safeguard your personal information and avoid becoming a victim.

Protect your devices.

Computers, smartphones and tablets contain sensitive information. So your first line of defence is to password-protect every device and never leave them unattended in public. Most mobile devices have the ability to enable encryption, which offers another layer of protection. Second line of defence: install the latest anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software, and keep operating systems up to date. New releases usually contain stronger security.

Be Wi-Fi wary.

If it's not encrypted and password-protected, Wi-Fi can be the weakest link in your security chain. When setting up your home network, use WPA2 encryption (currently it offers the strongest level of protection), assign a complex password and change it annually. Limit your use of Wi-Fi in public places and avoid entering sensitive information - such as credit card numbers, user names and passwords - while on a public network.

Watch out for scams.

Even if something on your screen looks legitimate, use caution before clicking links, downloading attachments or entering information. Reputable organizations will never ask you to confirm your credentials via email. If in doubt, don't call the number on your screen; instead, use the contact information listed on a statement or bill.

Shop smart.

For maximum security when shopping online, visit reputable sites and ensure the site is secure (secure addresses start with "https" instead of "http"). If you see a broken key or open lock in your browser window, the site isn't secure. And always log off and close your browser once you're done.

Secure social networks.

Enable appropriate privacy settings and avoid posting personal information, which can attract prying eyes. Once your information goes online, it's nearly impossible to remove.

Educate others.

People aged 65 and older make up the fastest-growing group of internet users in Canada, with approximately 70 per cent surveyed going online every day. Children are also increasingly connected online, with 99 per cent surveyed having internet access outside of school. Have regular discussions with family members about protecting their personal information.

Suspect you've been scammed? The best thing to do is report it immediately:

Contact your bank, financial institution or credit card company. They'll guide you through the process to help minimize or prevent any losses.

Call Equifax Canada at 1-800-465-7166 or TransUnion Canada at 1-877-525-3823 to issue a fraud alert.

Report the incident to your local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

Safe and sound

The Internet has introduced enormous benefits to modern life, but those benefits are not without risks. As cybercriminals become ever more sophisticated, your best defence is to stay well informed. Read up, discuss the risks, and implement best practices to help keep your information safe online.

Muscle up your passwords

  • Avoid the obvious such as your name, names of family members and pets, or addresses and phone numbers.
  • Steer clear of common words or phrases.
  • Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Use a different password/ user name combination for each account.

Don't write down or share passwords, and be sure to change them regularly.

Sources:
www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca
www.cba.ca
 
www.getcybersafe.gc.ca
www.globalnews.ca

Hello from Region 6 retirees

Well what do you do after you retire and have been a union activist all your working life and you sort of feel like something is missing?

Well, I will tell you what we did in Region 6 at one of our Retiree meetings. I put a motion forward to see if retirees would be interested in being part of a "Retirees Flying Squad"! A squad for each Service Area: North Bay, Sudbury, Timmins, and Sault St. Marie. A Squad that would assist the Area Council in events such as rallies, open houses, fundraisers, Labour Day, etc. Of course we would be ready for strike lines at any time. Well the answer was Hell Yah!.... we want a Flying Squad, and so we elected the four Members at Large, and they became the leads of the squads, who communicate when, where, and what time to fly.

I am proud to report that North Bay has 12 members and we have assisted with several events to date. We meet every four months for a breakfast.

So if you are interested in creating a Retirees Flying Squad for your region, feel free to email me and we can chat. (brownsue25@gmail.com .)

Oh and by the way, retiring is the best life ever!! !!!!! Thanks to those that continue the Fight
for Fairness.

Solidarity Always,

North Bay Squad Leader

Did you know?

One in seven Canadians is over the age of 65, and in 25 years, nearly one in
four Canadians will be a senior. As baby boomers retire, communities have an
opportunity to benefit from a highly-skilled cohort of seniors looking for new and
meaningful ways to contribute to their communities.

Seniors are significant contributors to the not-for-profit sector. Through the New Horizons for Seniors Program, the Government of Canada is taking action.

to enable seniors to share their knowledge, skills and experiences with others.

April 18th, 2016

Federal Health Minister out of touch with the realities of prescription drug coverage in Canada

Julie White: "People are suffering here because they cannot afford their prescription drugs. This should not be acceptable in a country as wealthy as Canada."

Ottawa, Ontario, Apr. 14, 2016 - On Monday Apr. 11, Federal Health Minister Dr. Jane Philpott announced to the Commons Health Committee that she had no mandate to create a universal pharmacare program and that "it sounds like it might be expensive. ... There are public drug plans across the country for people who can't afford medication."

It is clear to the Canadian Health Coalition and the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada that Philpott has missed the point. "The reason why drugs are so expensive in Canada is precisely because we do not have a national public drug plan," says Julie White, author of the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada's pharmacare policy paper. "We pay far more for drugs because we are unable to negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical companies for the whole population, as is done in many other countries."

Reliable research has shown that on a total cost of $27 billion paid for drugs, we pay up to $11 billion more than we would with a national plan. Meanwhile, both provincial and private insurance plans are struggling under the high prices and cutting back coverage.

As a physician, Minister Philpott should understand that prescription drugs are a critical part of health care. "Currently, one in 10 Canadians are unable to adhere to prescriptions because of their cost," says Adrienne Silnicki, National Coordinator of the Canadian Health Coalition. "While Minister Philpott may believe that the drug plans that currently exist are doing enough, there are very clearly people falling through gaping holes. We need to ensure everyone can receive the medication they need and a National Public Drug Plan is the surest, most affordable way to do that."

"Every other country with universal health care covers medicines. People are suffering here because they cannot afford their prescription drugs. This should not be acceptable in a country as wealthy as Canada," says Julie White.

The Canadian Health Coalition and the Congress of Union Retirees of Canada call on the federal Health Minister to think again and to initiate conversations with the provinces about a national public drug plan.

Congress of Union Retirees of Canada

Ontario Health Coalition  

Protecting public healthcare for all

December 9, 2016     

For Immediate Release

As Prime Minister Trudeau meets with First Ministers, Health Coalition calls for both sides to give ground to forge a new Health Accord in the public interest

Ottawa - In advance of tonight's dinner discussion on health care between the provincial-territorial Premiers and the Prime Minister, the Ontario Health Coalition called out both sides for their intransigence and advocated a new Health Accord forged in the public interest.

For months, provincial premiers and the federal government have been at odds over funding, with the provinces calling for more and the federal government holding to the funding formula cuts put in place by the Harper government. Health Coalition advocates stressed that both sides need to come to the table with concrete commitments.

The federal government must come to the table with an improved commitment to fund health care to meet the real needs of Canadians. By adopting the reduction in the funding formula that Harper proposed and by tying funding to GDP, the Trudeau government is insulating itself from the impact of population aging on health care costs at the expense of the provinces who cannot afford it, according to the federal government's own Parliamentary Budget Office. (See the 2014 report of the PBO.)

On the other side, the provinces cannot reasonably demand more money and turn around and cut public health care services, priorizing corporate tax giveaways over health (as happened in Ontario), or taking the money and then violating Canada Health Act requirements that protect patients against user fees and extra-billing by doctors and private clinics (as in Saskatchewan where private clinics are billing patients hundreds of dollars for diagnostic tests).

"It is in the public interest that both levels of government sit down seriously and negotiate a new Health Accord. The deal must include an improved commitment for federal dollars to meet the real health care needs of Canadians or we will see more service cuts and privatization," noted Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. But the provinces are not off the hook either. "In return, provinces must commit to spending federal funding on improving access and quality in public health care services and not shift them into general revenues while cutting and privatizing services. This is reasonable as both levels of government are accountable to the public."

The Health Coalition is calling for a new 10-year Accord to include the following:

• The provinces are right to advocate for a six per cent funding escalator so that federal support for health care will be sufficient to restore fiscal balance and to meet the real health care needs of Canadians resulting from economic growth and utilization, population growth, and aging.

• The federal government is right to insist on a commitment to uphold and enforce the principles of the Canada Health Act, including the right for patients to access needed medical care on equal terms and conditions without user fees or extra billing. Private clinics are violating the Canada Health Act by charging patients hundreds or even thousands of dollars for diagnostics and surgeries. This drives up costs, takes money and resources out of local public hospitals, and means faster care for the rich and slower care for everyone else.

• Both should make concrete commitments to improve access across the continuum of care, including reducing wait times in public hospitals, as well as improved access to primary health teams and public home- and continuing care.

• Both should re-establish the federal-provincial-territorial working groups on pharmacare and home/continuing care that were abandoned by the Harper government, with the goal of establishing a national public drug program and a plan to meet the health needs of aging Canadians.

15 Gervais Drive, Suite 604, Toronto, Ontario M3C 1Y8 Tel: 416-441-2502 Email: ohc@sympatico.ca Web: www.ontariohealthcoalition.ca

Money isn't everything. But it sure keeps the kids in touch.
If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

 

There's no place like home... but...

There's no place like home—and sometimes it seems like there's no place safer. For seniors, however, the home is where many injuries occur, and most of these are due to falls. Changes that are part of the normal aging process, such as declining vision, hearing, sense of touch or smell and bone density can increase the risk of injury. Injuries can also be more of a problem for seniors because, as the body ages, it takes longer to heal and recover from injury.

You might think that "accidents just happen" and that nothing can really be done to prevent them. Not so. By taking some simple measures, you can considerably reduce your chances of being injured at home. It's a matter of knowing what the potential hazards are, taking precautions and making adjustments. These changes can make a big difference!

This guide provides advice on how to prevent injuries by keeping your home, yourself and your environment as safe as you can. Checklists allow you to verify and increase the safety of your surroundings and lifestyle, and real-life stories offer testimony to the value of adapting.

As the old saying goes: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Inspecting your home and taking action to prevent home injuries can help you to live comfortably and safely for many years to come. We hope you will find this guide to be a practical tool to help you along the way.

The facts: seniors and injury in Canada

Falls cause injuries and death

Falls are the leading cause of injuries among Canadians 65 years and over. Between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of community-dwelling Canadian seniors experience one fall each year. Research suggests that falls are the direct cause of 95 per cent of all hip fractures, leading to death in 20 per cent of cases.

Hospitalization

Falls account for 85 per cent of seniors' injury-related hospitalizations, making this the leading cause of injury-related admissions for seniors. The average Canadian senior had to stay in hospital 10 days longer for falls than for any other cause. Falls are associated with over 1/3 of admissions to long-term care facilities after being released from the hospital.

Cost of injuries

Apart from personal suffering, loss of independence and lower quality of life, the costs of seniors' injuries to the health system are enormous - approximately $2 billion annually is spent on direct health care costs.

Where injuries occur

Approximately half of all falls that lead to hospitalization among seniors occur at home. The bathroom and stairs are particularly hazardous due to the risk of slipping, tripping and stumbling.

Fear of falling

Seniors who fall may limit their activities for fear of falling again. Yet by limiting activities, they are likely to lose strength and flexibility and increase their risk of falling again. Maintaining physical activity is essential if you wish to prevent falls and injury.

Source: Seniors' Falls in Canada: Second Report

Why Canadians Deserve and Need Electoral Reform

Dr. Christo Aivalis
Queen’s University, Department of History

Christo Aivalis is an adjunct professor of history at Queen’s University. His dissertation examined Pierre Trudeau’s relationship with organized labour and the CCF-NDP, and has been accepted for publication with UBC Press. His work has appeared in the Canadian Historical Review, Labour/le Travail, Our Times Magazine, Ricochet and Rankandfile.ca. He has also served as a contributor to the Canadian Press, Toronto Star, CTV and CBC. His current project is a biography of Canadian labour leader A.R. Mosher.

For as long as Canada has been a self-governing country, voters have always had to endure a flawed electoral system. And as more Canadians have noticed this, calls for electoral reform have come from the Green Party, New Democratic Party, and the Liberal Party. Prime Minister Trudeau even said that this would be last election held under a First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system.

But what is the FPTP system? Why does it need to change? And what sorts of alternatives exist? This short article will look to provide some quick answers to these questions.

Simply, FPTP is the long-running system here in Canada. Under it, we elect our 338 Members of Parliament (MPs) in elections all over the country. Each one of those elections is independent of the rest, and at the end, the party which won the most of these races gets to form the government. It doesn’t matter if the winning party has less than 50% support in the riding, and it doesn’t matter how much or little you win by.

Sometimes, the winning party might not have gotten the most total votes across the 338 elections, and often a party can get 40% of the vote, but more than 50% of the seats. This is what happened in the 2011 and 2015 federal elections, along with the 2014 Ontario election. And in the Canadian parliamentary system, with our strong parties, 51% of the seats means 100% of the power.

This often means that people are pressured into voting ‘strategically,’ because they feel the only choice is to stop the worst option, rather than choose what they feel is the best option. People sometimes feel they can’t vote for what they feel is the best future for their families and community, but rather choose the ‘lesser evil,’ lest their vote be ‘wasted.’

This negative process undermines millions of voters who chose other parties, and distorts the general will of the electorate. It is in this context that experts, labour unions, and many Canadians have called for a new system, which needs to be based on three overarching concepts.

  1. The system needs to offer proportionality: This means that, if a party gets 30% of the overall vote, they should get about 30% of the seats. No longer should we have a system where 40% of the vote gives you absolute power, and where 10% of the vote might leave you without any seats at all.
  2. The system needs be clear, and make choices positive: By this, I mean that people need to be able to understand the process and their ballot, and that the choice they make has to be straightforward. People shouldn’t have to worry about voting based on complicated strategic processes: if they want to support the NDP, then they should feel perfectly free to do so without any consequences
  3. The system needs to retain geographic representation: The problem with some proportional seat distributions is that they leave out the local element of politics. But there are many proportional systems that ensure that you still have a local MP. In a country like Canada—with its geographic, cultural, linguistic, and religious diversity—having MPs from your community must be a mainstay.

As you might be able to tell, the current FPTP system only really hits the last of these three points. But there is a system that honours all three points, and has the support of the Canadian Labour Congress, the New Democratic Party, and Fair Vote Canada: Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). At its core, the MMP system gives every Canadian two votes per ballot, which might look something like this:

As you can see, the first vote is done as it always has been. You vote for your local MP, and the person with the most votes wins outright. But because these elections tend to have distorted results across wider regions, your second vote is made for the particular party you support. In this system, we give out two thirds of the seats using the first vote, and the rest using this proportional model, which means that the results from the second vote are used to balance out the distortion from the FPTP vote, all without taking away local representation. In fact, because the system’s proportional elections are done on a regional basis, you will have both your local MP, as well as many more regional MPs from your general area of the province.

This form of MMP is only a proposal, and there are potential modifications that can be made, but the system as proposed gives proportionality, clarity, and geographic presentation in a way our existing system does not. And unlike the current system, you can differentiate between your local choice, and your general one. As it stands, if you love your local Liberal candidate, but cannot stand the party leader, you have to choose one or the other. But here, you can vote for your local voice, and then choose a party that better represents your ideological preferences.

At the end of the day, if we adopt this system, or one like it, no longer will Canadians have to choose between voting their conscience, and picking a winner. You sometimes hear that Canadians are disengaged from politics, but if we have a system that makes their voice heard more consistently, and doesn’t treat voting like a complicated game, I trust that people will see greater value in the democratic process. And we will all be better off for that.

MP Nathan Cullen calls Turdeau's broken electoral reform promise a betrayal

Skeena Bulkley-Valley Member of Parliament Nathan Cullen says Prime Minster Justin Trudeau should hang his head in shame after today’s decision to abandon his electoral reform election promise.

“This is disgraceful for a prime minister to act this way. Particularly, one that promised to be so much different than the last government,” says Cullen from Ottawa.

“Today the Prime Minster stood up and said to Canadians, I lied to get elected.”

The Liberal Government is looking to keep the first-past-the-post system, something that Cullen says will only benefit their party while throwing the multi-party Electoral Reform Committees’ work out the window.

Cullen, who was also the Vice Chair of the committee, says this is a snub to the Canadians that participated in the committee’s consultation across the country.

“The sense of betrayal is real. I’m thinking about all those Canadians who in good faith invested in this conversation. The government of Canada asked them for their opinion, they gave it, and the government… ignored it. I just hope for more in our world than governments who are so arrogant.”

The Liberals endorsed Cullen’s call for proportional representation last year before assembling a committee made up of MPs from all parties based on the last election results.

The committee held close to 50 meetings across the country with thousands of Canadians participating in the consultation process.

They released a final report in December calling for a proportional voting system while also recommending a referendum.

“This fight isn’t over. Clearly we heard from so many Canadians who wanted to see a change.”

An OPSEU retiree, always an activist

Our sister has covered numerous phases of activism, turning full circle, starting out in 1981 and retiring in 2016. I am speaking about Sister Sandra Snider of Region 7. In November this year, she will become an activist with the OPSEU Region 7 Retired Members Division.

Sister Snider has achieved many accomplishments throughout her involvement with OPSEU. One of her most memorable accomplishments was to force the governments hand through grievances and have more than 90 contract staff rolled over into full time positions in conjunction with the OPS collective agreement. Her persistent tracking and mapping of the days, hours and even seconds that contract staff worked was a monumental success for so many members. Benefits and pensions were part of the newly created full-time positions.

Sister Snider lead the way starting her activism with 18 years as a Steward, 2 terms as Vice-President, and four terms as President of Local 736.

Being a well-known activist, Sister Snider was asked to be a member mobilizer twice during OPS bargaining. First hand she was able to put names to faces and faces to the amazing jobs our members hold. Her networking skills were put to use and are second to none.

Sister Snider enjoyed two terms as an Executive Board Member. Most often one would find her travelling all corners of Region 7 from Marathon, Geraldton, and Nipigon to Dryden, Fort Frances, Kenora and everywhere in between.

Sister Snider held eight terms on the Ministry Enforcement and Renewal Committee, three terms on the Provincial Women's Committee, and two terms as Equity Liaison Officer for Local 736 as well as being on her Health and Safety Committee.

She has been a delegate to the Thunder Bay and District Labour Council for the past 16 years and currently holds the position of Vice-President. Her commitment continues with being a delegate to the Thunder Bay Area Council, a member with the Political Action Committee, and a mobilizer for the Campaign to Stop Privatization of Hydro One. She founded the chapter of The Citizens Coalition against Privatization in Thunder Bay.

Sister Snider is an enthusiastic person and volunteers in many other areas within her community. Believe me, folks, the list doesn't stop here.

Thank you Sister Sandra Snider for your commitment and devotion to OPSEU.

As chair of OPSEU Region 7 Retired Members Division, I welcome you to our division and look forward to your vision and activism with us.

In Solidarity,

Brenda R. Clapp
Chair, OPSEU Region 7 Retired Members Division

We Own It campaign

Some of you may be aware of the OPSEU We Own It campaign. In fact, some retirees have participated in events.

The campaign is designed to inform the general public of the cost of privatization to the tax payer.

Fresh polling information showed just how unpopular privatization has become. It found that:

  • 3 in 4 Ontarians oppose the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) when they learn that Ontario has spent $8 billion too much on public infrastructure projects built with P3s.
  • 4 in 5 Ontarians believe that since interest rates are so low, the province should avoid P3 financing and simply borrow the money itself to build new hospitals, schools, and transit.
  • 3 in 4 Ontarians understand that P3s cost us more in the long run.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 Ontarians are worried that the public loses control over public services and assets when they’re privatized.        

If you are interested participating in any of the events, contact your regional office.                           

PDF iconDownload Autumn View Edition 1, 2017

Publication Date: 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 (All day)