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Wynne reaction to human rights concerns took 10 months too long: Thomas

TORONTO –  Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has taken “10 months too long” to respond to human rights concerns around Ontario colleges operating in Saudi Arabia, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

“I wrote Kathleen Wynne about Algonquin College’s campus in Saudi Arabia over 10 months ago,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today. “Does the Premier read her mail? Or did spending public dollars to support a brutal regime not matter until it hit the front pages?”

The Premier says she only just learned about  male-only campuses run by Algonquin, Niagara, and Centennial colleges in Saudi Arabia. Thomas wasn’t buying it.

“Our union has published four news releases on this issue in the last four weeks,” he said. “It beggars belief that she didn’t know about these schools or the context in which they were set up.”

The OPSEU president was also sceptical of Wynne’s outrage over the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia.

“This is a Premier who says one thing and does another,” he said. “She talks about closing the wage gap between men and women but won’t fund pay equity. She launches an action program on violence, then underfunds colleges to the point where they set up shop in a country where women go to jail for driving.”

The Ontario government spends less per student on community colleges than any other province in Canada, Thomas said.

“I’m delighted the Premier has turned her mind to the intolerable situation in Saudi Arabia. But what’s she going to do about the pain she’s inflicted on Ontario’s colleges? That’s where this whole mess started.”

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Warren (Smokey) Thomas