Ontarians go to the polls to elect a new provincial government on Oct. 6. It’s time for all of us to jump into the conversation.
That’s because if you are an OPSEU member, this election will be about you.
Politicians are falling over each other talking about plans to cut public spending. Liberals are already chopping away at jobs and wages. Tories are sharpening their axe to do the same thing – only more so.
In 2010, Liberal Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said “It’s time for us to do our part” to reduce government spending. That’s when he announced his plan to “freeze” (i.e., cut) the wages of provincial workers. After announcing 3,400 job cuts in the public service in 2009, he added another 1,500 in 2011. To make things worse, he hired a bank economist to figure out ways to sell our jobs to the private sector.
And then there’s Tim Hudak.
The new Tory leader acts like Premier Mike Harris never happened. Today, Harris makes $750,000 a year at a part-time job at Magna Corp. But from 1995 to 2002, he was changing Ontario full time. He attacked the poor and gave us homelessness. He made it harder to join a union. He gave us chaos in health and education and electricity. He gave us the Walkerton water disaster and the Aylmer meat scandal.
He did these things by attacking public employees and the work we do. Now his protégé Hudak wants to do the same thing. His “changebook” is all about tax cuts (to pad corporate profits and starve public services); public service cuts (to pay for the tax cuts); and privatization (to feed public dollars to private profiteers).
All of which he says will make people’s lives better. It won’t.
I think it’s a privilege to pay taxes. That’s because I know where the money is going. It’s looking after our seniors. It’s teaching our kids. It’s protecting our air and water. It’s building healthy, safe, and prosperous communities.
But in Tim Hudak’s world, you’re on your own. If it takes three low-wage part-time jobs to keep your family together, he’s fine with that. If you can’t afford health care, well, that’s fine, too.
The thing is, it’s not fine. In this election, OPSEU members have to speak up about the work we do. We helped build this province. We make it a better place to live.
It’s time to speak up for the Ontario we want.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Ontario Public Service Employees Union