June 23 is Public Services Day. It’s a day to celebrate the value of public services and to honour the work of public employees everywhere.
It’s an important day, because these days, public services are under attack, and so are the people who provide them.
Around the world, too many politicians and CEOs are pushing to downsize public services and cut the taxes that pay for them. They are pushing harder than ever to privatize public services and let business run everything.
It’s as if they don’t know why we have a public sector in the first place.
The core value of a democracy is equality. Rich or poor, we all have the same right to have our voices heard on matters that affect us. We all have the right to expect a certain standard of access to health care, or education, or other services. And we all have the right to expect that our government will be run for the common good, not to enrich a few well-connected people at public expense.
When the United Nations created Public Services Day in 2002, they put a big focus on “efficient, accountable, effective and transparent public administration.” This is vitally important. Without a strong public sector to hold government accountable, corruption and cronyism come creeping in.
Kind of like what’s happening in Ontario right now.
When Premier Kathleen Wynne needs advice, she turns to bankers and Bay Street lawyers. They’re the ones telling her to cut and privatize. They’re the ones telling her to sell off assets like Hydro One.
She should listen to the people of Ontario instead.
If she did, she’d find out pretty fast that Ontarians expect her to protect public services, not destroy them. Public services make our lives better, our communities stronger, and our society fairer, and people know it.
Let’s all remember that – today and every day. Happy Public Services Day!
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Ontario Public Service Employees Union
P.S. For more on Public Services Day, check out this interview with Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International, a federation of unions representing 20 million public employees around the world.