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OPSEU ‘ready for the storm ahead’ with political tsunami on the horizon

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
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OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas has warned that a political tsunami is on the horizon, after today’s release of the EY Canada report on Ontario’s finances. He warned that all the tell-tale signs of a government bent on deep public sector cuts and costly privatization schemes have emerged. According to Thomas, OPSEU is “ready for the storm ahead.”  

“Ford’s fiscal approach could result in the most abysmal government failure we’ve seen to-date,” said Thomas. “It’s been 25 years since the Social Contract; that’s 25 years of frontline workers being under attack, of governments slashing, burning, privatizing and chipping away at our public sector infrastructure. 

“EY’s half-million dollar analysis follows the same failed logic of governments gone by,” said Thomas. “If this approach made any sense, it wouldn’t have already failed so many times – it’s the very definition of political insanity.”

But according to the union, which represents 155,000 workers in the Ontario Public Service and across the Broader Public Service, Ontario’s own past is the best predictor of its future.

“Over the past 25 years, Ontario’s public sector has been slashed in half,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Wage increases have consistently remained lower than inflation during that time – averaging a mere 1.8 per cent – and for years Ontario has actually had the lowest spending per capita of any province.

“That doesn’t sound like a province with a spending problem to me,” said Almeida. “Progressive minds in this province know we’ve got a revenue problem – but after 25 years of government rhetoric, and yet another ‘groundbreaking’ financial report, it’s obvious that the current administration isn’t getting it.”

In light of the half a million dollar EY report, Premier Ford continued his call for restored trust and accountability in the province’s public finances. But according to Thomas, that’s not going to come from even deeper public sector cuts.

“It’s the privatization boondoggles that are the real scandal,” said Thomas. “If Ford wants to find wasted money, and restore financial accountability, he’ll end costly privatization schemes like P3s. He’ll listen to the Auditor General, to the people, and to the frontline workers who are the experts on the ground. He’ll end the cronyism that privatization breeds.

“The people voted for change, not more of the same,” said Thomas. “It’s time to stop this vicious cycle. At OPSEU we don’t pick fights, but when it comes to protecting our vital public services, the communities that rely on them, and those on the frontlines, we’ll never back down from one either.”

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