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Tongue-tied Tories ignore advice of OPSEU’s frontline workers

2020 prebudget submission

Toronto – Conservative members who dominate an Ontario legislative committee had nothing to say to OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas when he presented a submission on the upcoming provincial budget.

Thomas appeared on Friday before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs at Queen’s Park to deliver the views of frontline workers on what is needed in the upcoming budget.

He took a couple of questions from the New Democrats on the committee, but the Conservative members were silent onlookers and said they had no questions for him.

“I guess this is their new strategy – just boycott the knowledge, experience, passion, and expertise of 165,000 OPSEU members providing public services day in and day out,” said Thomas after the presentation. “In all my years presenting to this vital committee, I have never seen the government members boycott the question-and-answer portion of a presentation. Their behaviour today is an unforgiveable attack on a democratic process.

“Putting their heads into the sand isn’t going to help them, and it’s definitely not going to help anybody in Ontario.”

During the presentation, Thomas demanded that Doug Ford address the ”understaffing crisis” across public services the same way he addressed the understaffing crisis in his own cabinet.

“Decades of cuts and austerity have taken their toll. Layoffs, unfilled vacancies, and too many managers are a problem across our public services,” Thomas told the committee. “Work and caseloads are at crisis levels. That’s why wait times are so long. That’s why we’re stuck with hallway health care.”

Thomas told the committee there’s only one solution. “It’s simple: when you don’t have enough workers, good work can’t be done. The Premier knows this from personal experience,” said Thomas.

“When he was first elected, he boasted that his cabinet was just 21 people. But after his disastrous first year, he realized he didn’t have enough people to do the work. So he increased the size of his cabinet by a whopping 33 per cent.

“It’s time for his government to do the same for the public service and the people of Ontario.”

Thomas warned that another budget like last year’s will leave millions of Ontarians hurting even more.

“Last year, they tabled a budget that was full of cuts and full of privatization. They tried to hide and downplay those cuts and privatizations, but the truth came out soon enough.”

“We all know what happened next. The Premier’s popularity plummeted. And the finance minister took the fall,” said Thomas. “So here we are again. We have a new finance minister. And the Premier says he’s learned his lesson.

“Judging from today’s performance of his appointees, clearly he hasn’t learned a thing.”

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