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‘The time for talking about caring has passed, it’s time to do’: OPSEU President Thomas

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas speaks to reporters at Queen's Park.

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is skeptical of the speech from the throne that has offered a glimpse into the Liberal government’s priorities heading into the June 7 election.

Under the banner of a ‘time for care’, the speech was centred on the theme of rebuilding the system; including needed improvements to health care, mental health and addictions, and access to more affordable child care and postsecondary education. But Thomas said today that this message has come through a little late.

“We’ve had fifteen years of austerity, of cuts,” said Thomas. “That’s closer to 25 years when you include the Tories’ time in office. In that time, our public services have been grossly underfunded, and understaffed. So, while it’s nice to hear that the government cares, the time for talking about caring has passed, it’s time to do.”

According to Thomas, that’s just what he’ll be looking for when the provincial budget is released March 28.

“While today’s speech gave hope, it also gave very little in the way of detail,” according to Thomas. “The true test of this government’s sincerity to rebuild the public service will come next Wednesday – we’ll see then just how committed they are to taking action. We’ll also see if there’s a real commitment to walk away from costly privatization schemes.”

Thomas noted that for the past quarter century governments have ripped apart Ontario’s public services and actions speak louder than words.

“We’ve had 25 years of undo, it’s time for can do,” Thomas said.

When asked about his strategy heading into the provincial election, Thomas reaffirmed that the biggest priority is for Ontarians to get to the polls and vote this June.

“At OPSEU, our goal is to get the information out to our 150,000 plus members, so that they can make an informed decision at the polls,” said Thomas. “Our members know that public services are the bedrock of our communities, and our province. We encourage all political parties to commit to invest in the public services that will take Ontarians forward.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931