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Smokey Thomas publicly commends and supports Andrea Horwath’s position on the Ontario budget

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Andrea Horwath, MPP (Hamilton Centre)
ahorwath-qp@ndp.on.ca
Room 113, Main Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A5

Dear Sister Horwath:

On behalf of the Ontario Public Service’s 130,000 members, I want to commend you on your measured and thoughtful response to the Ontario budget speech of March 27, 2012.

In my discussions with other labour leaders, there is profound recognition that now is not the time for hyperbole or provocation. Too bad the Premier, his finance minister and the leader of the opposition do not share this view.

Dwight Duncan’s reference to the possible implementation of a legislated wage freeze demonstrates the politics of division between winners and losers, “haves” and “have nots”. We are dismayed that a minister of the Crown would announce his intention to purposefully breach the Charter in a budget speech.

We are prepared to address this challenge when and if confronted by it. His Herculean effort to demonize organized labour and working people throughout this province will not go unanswered. Thelabour movement with its community partners and allies will fight back. We will fight smart and destroy their propaganda with truth. We know that truth always wins out.

As the NDP leader you are in a unique and vital role. While the official opposition immediately announced they would defeat the budget, your response was exactly what the people of Ontario were looking for. Your steady and impressive rise in the polls indicates that you and your caucus are on the right track.

I share your view that issues like jobs, affordability, fairness and health care are at the top of the agenda for the majority of informed Ontarians. The middle class and those striving to enter the middle class need the kind of leadership you are providing.

OPSEU supports the course that you are charting. We believe that it is possible for society to be compassionate without losing its competitive edge. We believe that our most vulnerable need to be cared for. We believe that quality, front line public services that meet the test of accountability, are an integral part of the Ontario we all strive to re-build.

We understand as well that we have fiscal challenges but reject the notion that austerity creates prosperity. We are actively promoting a forum wherein business, labour, community, the government and the opposition work together to find immediate, balanced and reasonable solutions to Ontario’s economic challenges.

In fact, there was reference in the budget speech to that very possibility with the mention of a Jobs and Prosperity Commission. OPSEU intends to lobby hard for a leadership role in determining the terms of reference and membership for such a table.

Andrea, as you continue your thoughtful consultation, you should be confident that OPSEU backs your approach. I assure you that we understand that you are a friend of labour.  We accept that circumstances dictate that your most pressing task is be the voice for a vibrant, strong middle class. You are also a voice for those who aspire to escape poverty and the vulnerable, who through no fault of their own need our care and compassion.

The Labour movement is strong and organized. We are ready. We are here for you. All of Ontario needs you. Together we will succeed.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU President