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OPSEU President to PC leader: don’t blame workers for fiscal mess

Toronto – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) has responded to comments by Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown that the Government of Ontario should have bargained harder on a tentative collective agreement it signed June 2 for 36,000 OPSEU members in the Ontario Public Service (OPS).

The President of OPSEU was dismayed by the Tory leader’s comments, saying Brown is blaming the wrong people for the government’s budget problems.

“After all the work we’ve done to educate Patrick Brown about the work public employees do, he still hasn’t figured out that the deficit wasn’t caused by frontline public sector workers,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The deficit wasn’t created by conservation officers or nurses working in jails. It wasn’t caused by ambulance dispatchers or meat inspectors.

“The Liberals dug their own financial hole through mismanagement, ill‑advised privatization schemes, and lavish tax cuts to their corporate friends.”

If ratified, the June 2 deal will give OPSEU-represented OPS workers a wage increase of 1.5 per cent in 2017 and an additional one per cent every six months beginning January 1, 2019. The agreement comes after years of drastic concessions and salary freezes for OPS workers.

“OPS workers were among the first to be made to pay the price of the Liberals’ financial ineptitude and bankers’ irresponsible wheeling-and-dealing, which led to economic disaster,” Thomas noted. “This tentative agreement goes some way to recognizing the burden OPS workers have borne, as well as the role that excellent public services make in attracting new investment to Ontario.

“Patrick Brown’s comments are concerning, because they signal a commitment to fiscal conservatism. But if he thinks this is the way a Premier-in-waiting behaves, he may find himself waiting a lot longer than he had expected.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931