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OPSEU/SEFPO commends provincial budget that ‘rejects austerity’

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Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas commends the Ford Conservatives for rejecting austerity and says they must stay the course and continue to focus on rebuilding Ontario in the long-term.

Thomas is calling today’s budget a positive step toward health and economic recovery saying that support for job creation and public services is the way to go because it’s ‘buy local or bye-bye local.’

“Without a healthy workforce there is no economy,” said Thomas. “Protecting workers and businesses, saving lives and investing in front line public services, like health, education and job training, is our ticket to economic recovery and prosperity – not just in 2021 but for many years to come.

“While there are things we think need more investment – like post-secondary education and long-term care – we are heartened to see this provincial government rejects austerity,” said Thomas in a video address.

Calling today’s budget the second good news budget in the past year, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says Ontario must stay the course.

“After one step forward, Ontarians don’t want to take two steps back,” said Almeida. “Austerity does not lead to prosperity; it’s what got us into this mess in the first place. A right wing government could have slashed and burned, but they didn’t. We must never return to that outdated mentality again.

“We must build a better Ontario, so that we’re better prepared the next time,” said Almeida. “Today’s recovery budget is another step in the right direction. The Premier recognizes that the health of the public service is the health of the province.”

The union has applauded recent provincial funding announcements, and says today’s budget shows that this government has listened and has matured since two years ago when the Conservatives came to power.

“OPSEU/SEFPO has been saying for decades that we’ve got a capacity crisis,” said Thomas. “We understand that spending spurs economic growth – not cuts. Today’s budget shows evidence that the government understands that. But the devil’s in the details, and we’ll be looking at it carefully.”

OPSEU/SEFPO proudly represents 170,000 members working across Ontario’s public sector – 70 per cent of whom are women. With the creation of a Women’s Task Force on the challenges women face re-entering the workforce, Thomas says the union is eager to help.

“I want to commend the Finance Minister for delivering a very human budget in a humanistic way,” said Thomas. “We’re pleased with today’s budget boost, but there’s still more work to do, and we look forward to working with this government on further consultations.

“From the bottom of my heart, I’d also like to thank the thousands of OPSEU/SEFPO members on the front lines of this pandemic,” said Thomas. “You’ve put your health and safety at risk for the benefit of all Ontarians and your advocacy has allowed me to lobby the government hard on your behalf. Today, we see the fruits of that work. Each and every one of you are heroes.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931
OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org