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Fighting racism and discrimination is an everyday effort

Ontario’s third-party review of inclusive workplace policies and programs is a good move and welcome, even if it’s overdue, says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. 

“I give the Premier credit for providing the leadership to move forward with this review, it’s something that should have happened long before he took office,” said Thomas.  “OPSEU has been looking at these issues for the past decade and we have lots of insight we’d be happy to share with the government as it proceeds with its review.” 

OPSEU-driven examples include: 

  • Development of a course on anti-Black racism to educate OPSEU membership so they are prepared and equipped to identify, address, and challenge racism.
  • Launching a campaign on anti-Black racism to address its devastating effects and inequitable outcomes while developing strategies to bring about meaningful systemic change.
  • Ensuring that OPSEU members with visible and non-visible disabilities have the necessary accommodations in place to participate in union activities.
  • Partnering with local Pride communities to provide the necessary supports to LGBTQ+ who may be forced to remain in the closet; and
  • Educating Ontarians about the working conditions of migrant workers who have few rights and don’t have benefits like paid sick leave that come from being in a strong union.

Calls from citizens, advocacy groups, and unions like OPSEU for government to address these problems have been going on for years. 

“These are just a few examples of the issues that need a long-term and direct focus by a government committed to being on the side of fairness, progress, and human rights,” says Thomas. “Let’s hope the Ontario government is serious about real change and making workplaces comfortable and safe.” 

The Ontario Public Service announced this week it has launched a third-party review of its workplace policies and programs to better address systemic employment barriers. The review will cover factors like anti-Black racism and anti-Indigenous racism.  The government expects the final report will be done by next April. 

OPSEU is a social justice union that has been fighting for equality and fairness for members of the OPS, and the Ontario workforce as a whole, for decades.