Over 200 members of OPSEU Region 2, along with friends and family members, came out for the region’s annual appreciation day. This year, the event had a decidedly sharp edge to it, as enthusiastic participants were treated to an afternoon of skating and OHL hockey at the Meriden Centre in St. Catharines.
From l to r: Jeremy Thibodeau, Andrew Thomas, President Thomas, First VP/Treasurer Almeida
“In the past, we’ve had family picnic days,” said Jeremy Thibodeau, who helped organize the appreciation day, along with Executive Board Members Lucy Morton, Erin Thorson and Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, who is also First Vice-President/Treasurer of OPSEU. “This year, we thought we’d try something very different: a winter event that would take place when the kids were out of school.”
In addition to free on-ice activities, participants were provided with a complimentary lunch, while a number of prizes were given away, including a Play Station 4, hockey jerseys, and OPSEU jackets and sweaters. Guests were also treated to an OHL game between the Niagara Icedogs and the Kingston Frontenacs (with the Frontenacs defeating the Icedogs by a score of 8 to 3).
President Thomas skates at the Meridien Centre in St. Catharines
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas brought his son Andrew to the game. Thomas was delighted, not only to cheer for the Frontenacs, but also to skate, meet up with several old friends from Region 2, and spread the word about privatization.
“There’s a big threat to jobs in Ontario today, and it’s not a higher minimum wage. It’s the Ontario government’s undermining of excellent public services by selling off public assets like Hydro, slashing funding, particularly in health care, outsourcing services to the private sector, and hiring costly private sector corporations to build public infrastructure, known as public-private partnerships, or P3s.
“At OPSEU, we’re fighting back on privatization with a vast campaign called We Own It,” Thomas continued. “We’re asking municipal councils, MPPs, community groups and private citizens to take the anti-privatization pledge. Mobilizers have been fanning out over the province during the last several months, and we’ve already signed up thousands in every corner of the province.”
Participants carry "We Own It" campaign flags
Event organizers Jeremy Thibodeau, Carlotta Ewing, Deb Powell and Shawn Swayze are We Own It mobilizers. Thibodeau said that many appreciation day participants had also signed the pledge. “We were giving away We Own It shirts and skaters were carrying We Own It flags. We wanted to make sure people knew that privatization was a real threat to the well-being of families and communities.”
Thibodeau promised that he and Executive Board Members would build on this year’s success to offer Region 2 an even better appreciation day in 2019.
Region 2 rented the zamboni so that it could be decked out in OPSEU insignia