TORONTO – During an interactive town hall meeting Tuesday night that drew more than ten thousand participants from across the province, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas unveiled Vote Better, his union’s election platform. It calls for a number of measures, including:
- A moratorium on new privatizations and public private partnerships (or “P3s”)
- Guaranteed annual health-care investments tied to the health-care inflation rate
- Free tuition and appropriately staffed public schools, colleges, and universities
“Calling a halt to privatization and P3s will free up billions of dollars that we can use to invest in ourselves and our future,” said Thomas.
“We can tackle long health-care wait times. We can make sure everybody gets a good education. We can protect our most vulnerable. We can breathe new life into our rural and northern communities. And the list goes on and on.”
Thomas was joined during the town hall by former MP Andrew Cash and Adrienne Batra, the editor in chief of The Toronto Sun. The three sparred throughout the night on a number of privatization issues, but all three agreed that the privatization of the LCBO would be foolhardy.
“I don’t think the LCBO is going to be privatized anytime soon because no one, Doug Ford included, wants to have that fight with you guys, period,” Batra said.
But Cash suggested that Ford would nevertheless be tempted. “Every right of centre government in Ontario has looked at the sale of the LCBO,” he said. “It’s a big profitable public service and they think ‘wouldn’t that be great in private sector hands?’”
Thomas said the point of Vote Better is to ensure that voters have the information they need to make sure those privatizing politicians don’t get elected.
Created with input from OPSEU members working in a range of sectors across the province, the platform covers eight broad areas: the economy, jobs, health care, education, rural and northern communities, society, the environment, and the Ontario Public Service. Each section contains concrete proposals that will help improve the lives of everyday Ontarians.
“OPSEU isn’t a political party, and I’m not running for office. But as a union of 155,000 front-line public sector workers, we know a thing or two about helping keep communities healthy, safe, and prosperous,” said Thomas. “We know what works. We know what doesn’t work. And we know how to make things better.
“The goal of this platform is to encourage people to think about building a better Ontario when they’re voting in the provincial election.”
Thomas added that Ontario can easily afford to invest more in itself. He said the provincial government currently spends less on public services than any other province despite the fact that its gross domestic product is larger than it has ever been.
“The simple truth is: we can afford to do better. We just need to vote better.”
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas: 613-329-1931
OPSEU’s Vote Better election platform is available at www.opseu.org/votebetter