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Rally, poll show strong support for public services

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas speaks with reporters during a We Own It rally in Toronto.
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To make it clear that more than two-thirds of Ontarians want strong public services, an energetic crowd of public services supporters gathered outside of a major conference on privatization in downtown Toronto on Monday, November 6.

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"More than 42,000 Ontarians have signed up with our We Own It campaign to keep our public services public," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas during the noontime rally. "And we're not the only ones. A new Nanos poll shows that two-thirds of all Ontarians want public services, not privatized services.

"We want everybody in that conference to hear us loud and clear: Ontario isn't for sale because We Own It."

Thomas and the We Own It campaign were joined at the rally by a number of other community groups and unions, including TTC Riders, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), the Council of Canadians, the Toronto Airport Workers Council, and the Raging Grannies.

Jessica Bell of the TTC Riders said her group is committed to fighting against privatization in the transit system. 

"When big business takes over transit, they hurt riders with fare hikes," said Bell. "When big business takes over transit they hurt riders by cutting routes, leaving us with ever longer commutes.

"That's why we say no to private transit."

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CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn pledged solidarity from his members across the province.

"I'm proud to say we stand with OPSEU, we stand with We Own It," said Hahn. "We stand with the students and the postal workers and with ATU, and with everybody who wants to stop privatization once and for all."

Rosario Marchese, chair of Hydro One Not For Sale, told the crowd that by standing together, privatization can be stopped.

"If you're angry about the hydro rates you're paying, then the solution is to stop the privatization of our hydro system," said Marchese. "If we don't buy back hydro, our rates will keep going through the roof."

The Raging Grannies added some music to the rally, singing some new lyrics about health care privatization to  a chorus of Solidarity Forever: "Get sick, you'll make someobody richer / Get sick you'll make somebody richer," they sang. "Get sick you'll make somebody richer / It's for-profit health care now."

Thomas thanked all the people who took part in the rally.

"I'm happy to see so many other groups and unions with us here today. We're committed to public services that are for people not profit, and we'll work with anybody who wants to keep our public services public," he said.

"Thanks to all of you and the We Own It campaign, more and more people are realizing that with privatization, you pay more and you get less," he said.