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Layoffs at OLG are shameful; privatization has handcuffed relief

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Layoff notices issued for Ontario hospitality and gaming workers during the COVID-19 crisis are just another example of greed, and highlight how privatization is eroding government social safety nets aimed at protecting people from financial ruin or worse, says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“All I can do is shake my head,” said Thomas, pointing to the example of Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) private-contractor employees in Ottawa who have been shown the door.

“At a time when people need support the most, we are seeing workers being left to fend for themselves. Employers should do what’s right during this crisis: provide employees with salary continuance, full benefits, and not layoffs.”

The OLG and its massive profits are in fine position to offer employees relief, adds Thomas. Instead, it is taking its earnings and guarding them in the interests of protecting the bottom line. 

“This is a prime example of why privatization does not work,” said Thomas. “These profits have been siphoned away from public use, which drastically lowers the ability of government to take care of its citizens. So, what we have now are employers who won’t take care of staff, and a government that while commendable in some of its current efforts around COVID-19 can’t provide Ontarians with the full support they need.”

Making this even more disgusting is the fact the OLG doesn’t have an issue with offering huge protections to executives, said Thomas.

“This is an organization that just paid $847,000 in buy-out money to former President & CEO Stephen Rigby, but will do nothing for frontline workers who are the grease that keeps their machine moving,” said Thomas. “Now these workers have no choice but to depend on taxpayer money for support – money that just isn’t as plentiful because of privatization.”