OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and OPSEU Region 4 Executive Board Members joined members from OPSEU’s Disability Rights Caucus for a rally to protest cuts and privatization in Kingston.
Labour leaders, community residents, city councillors, and Kingston and The Islands MPP Ian Arthur also came out to show their support. The main focus of the event was to raise awareness in the community and spread the message that “Cuts Hurt Us All”. Whether it’s education, health care, social services or the privatization of the LCBO, Ford’s cuts will have a traumatic effect on people and the communities where they live.
During the march, participants stopped at local businesses along the way to speak with residents, and the response was overwhelmingly positive – many spoke of the need to stand up and fight back together!
Teresa Graham, president of OPSEU Local 497 at the LCBO spoke at the rally, reminding the crowd that LCBO profits help to pay for vital public services and programs. She also warned of the dangers of expanding privatized alcohol sales to big box, corner and agency stores, and the need to educate the public about the benefits of the public retail model.
Speakers also touched on cuts in the classroom and the challenges faced by teachers and other education workers in making sure students’ needs are met in a safe and secure learning environment, and the impact of children’s mental health service cuts, including longer wait times and less access to necessary care.
A local mother spoke about autism funding cuts and the devastating impact on her family, saying quite simply that cuts don’t work. She spoke eloquently about how emotional and challenging day to day life can be in her household, despite the joys, and about how important funding and programs are for her child and all others.
The rally was a true show of strength and solidarity, with participants expressing their commitment to stand together and to fight back for a better Ontario.
From left to right: Dave Doran, EBM Region 4; Janet Heyman, OPSEU Disability Rights Caucus co-chair; Ian Arthur, MPP for Kingston and the Islands; Diane Clarabut, OPSEU Provincial Women’s Committee member; Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President.
OPSEU Disability Rights Caucus (DRC) co-chair Janet Heyman and DRC member Jason Patterson attending the DRC booth.