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Week of attacks may mark beginning of Ford’s war on workers: OPSEU

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas

Toronto – It’s been a week of attacks on workers according to OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, after the government announced cuts to employers’ WSIB premiums and a halt to the planned minimum wage increase that was set for the New Year. 

“It’s been a hot-minute since EY’s report was released,” said Thomas. “On Monday we’re told Ontario’s finances are in bad shape, and that we need to ‘modernize.’ By mid-week the government has already launched a full-scale attack on the most vulnerable workers – the lowest paid, and those injured on the job.

“Ford’s team would be better described as Regressive Conservatives, if you ask me,” said Thomas. “What they’re planning to do is gut-wrenching. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it; this is class warfare.” 

Earlier this week, the government released consultant firm Ernst and Young’s report on Ontario’s finances, which critics have aptly called a “witch hunt” and “frame job.” OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the report’s main purpose seems to be to hammer the previous Liberal government, and to set the stage for deep public sector cuts and costly privatization schemes. 

“Did they even catch their breath before blasting-out the battle cry?” said Almeida. “They’re quick to act, but not so keen to think. Even if there’s enough money in the WSIB pot to cover those already in the system, there will undoubtedly be future workplace injuries, and claims that need to be funded. It’s pretty simple math.

“Unless Ford’s team has discovered a magic pill to stop workplace injuries altogether, it doesn’t make any sense to starve off the WSIB, and future recipients,” said Almeida. “We’ve got a government that’s rubbing salt into injured workers’ wounds, and we can’t let that happen.”      

Thomas said the Conservative plan to halt the minimum wage increase is just as outlandish and dangerous as the proposed cuts to employers’ WSIB premiums.

“This government is throwing handouts at employers that will be paid for on the backs of workers,” said Thomas. “But I’ve got a newsflash for Ford: the workers are the people too. These guys are jumping through hoops to undo the Liberal agenda, but they’re turning Queen’s Park into more of a circus than a respected house of government.

“It’s time for Ford to stop spending so much time un-doing, and focus instead on doing what’s right for the people,” said Thomas. “We’re the union of frontline workers; we are the people. It’s time for Ford to listen.”

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