OPSEU President: No surprise the ombudsman was crushed by complaints on cannabis, autism, jails

Toronto– OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says he’s not the least bit surprised that complaints to the province’s ombudsman have jumped by 30 per cent since the Ford government came to power.

“When you govern with cuts and chaos, people get hurt,” said Thomas. “People are in pain. People need help. And people have learned the hard way that they just can’t count on any support from the clapping seals in the Conservative caucus. It’s no wonder they’ve been flooding the ombudsman’s office with complaints.” 

In his annual report, Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube said his overburdened office received nearly 2,500 complaints about the Ontario Cannabis Store and all the confusion and shortages that have marred legalization.

“No shocker there,” said Thomas. “To pay off his insiders and rich backers, Ford blew up the responsible plan for public cannabis sales that our union helped create. If he’d stuck with that plan, we’d now have dozens upon dozens of safe and trustworthy publicly run cannabis outlets in communities across the province.

“Instead, we’ve still only got a handful of profit-driven businesses. And the criminal market is having a heyday.”

OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida urged people to pay attention to the other problems flagged by the ombudsman, saying they all boil down to underinvestment and staff shortages.

“Look at how many complaints he fielded about Ford’s disastrous cuts and privatizations in autism services and special education services,” said Almeida. “Families are hurting and they’re desperate to be heard.”

Almeida also said it’s significant that the ombudsman received more complaints about correctional facilities than any other topic. “For years, we’ve been warning governments about the Crisis in Corrections. And now we’ve got nearly 6,000 complaints proving us right,” said Almeida, who is a Correctional Officer. “We need action. Now.” 

Thomas said he hopes the premier is paying attention.

“Now that Dean French is finally gone, I urge the premier to start listening to the people,” said Thomas. “Ontario is better than this. We can afford to be better than this.” 

For more information: 

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931