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A Labour Day commitment to a healthy public sector

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The forecast is for warm and sunny weather in most of the province, so it should be a great Labour Day long weekend.  I encourage you to march in your local parade or take the family to a Labour Day picnic.

Labour Day is important. It has been celebrated in Canada on the first Monday of September since the 1880s.  It is a time for workers to join their families in recognizing the many contributions working people have made to our country.  Click on the links below to hear our two radio ads about the importance of Labour Day.  They have been playing throughout the province for the past two weeks.

Radio ad one: 

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Radio ad two:

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As a union we know that our prosperous society has been built on the backs of millions of workers before us. They did the groundwork, and now it is up to us to continue the battle for a more just and fairer society. We must continue to fight for a better Ontario that puts the welfare of its citizens ahead of the quest for profit.

As public sector employees, we know that many challenges lie ahead.  The Wynne government wants to lay off more of our members.  It plans to sell off public assets like Hydro One.  It plans to use public-private partnerships to build roads and transit.

This government’s mantra is to privatize as many government services as possible.  They want to do this, even though it has been repeatedly proven that the public sector can consistently provide a better level of service at a lower cost. I am proud of our members.  We simply offer much better value than private contractors.

I would ask that, this weekend, you think of our members in Local 294, who have been on strike since mid-April against CarePartners, a for-profit home health care company.

Health care professionals working for CarePartners are currently paid by the visit, rather than by the hour.  They have no sick days or compensation for overtime.  The result is that many earn less than minimum wage, despite providing vital services such as in-home dialysis, complex wound care and palliative services.  This is not the treatment deserved by health care workers who are a crucial component of medicare.

At the same time, the owners of CarePartners — who receive 100 per cent of their funding from taxpayers — pay themselves handsome salaries.  A new layer of privatized fat has been introduced to the home care system, with patients and workers paying the price.

This is the insidious nature of privatization.  It can materialize in many forms.  This Labour Day, let’s redouble our resolve to push back against privatization and be proud of the work we do.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

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