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Rise up!

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Dear sisters and brothers:

It’s clear to me that the timing of this year’s Convention theme couldn’t be better.

This year’s theme is “Rise up!” And everywhere I look in OPSEU, I see green shoots of activism sprouting up.

Of course there is never a time when our members aren’t taking action on some issue. But this spring seems busier than usual.

OPSEU board members are leading the fight against Dalton McGuinty’s so-called “temporary wage freeze,” which is actually a permanent pay cut. Locals are speaking out against layoffs in our hospitals and threatened bankruptcies in children’s aid. Other members are gearing up for a major fight against the privatization of their work.

Action is everywhere. And I think the action that’s going on this spring is a very deep kind of action. That’s because it’s built on a growing awareness of what’s really going on in this world.

Dalton McGuinty isn’t bringing in wage cuts because public spending is too high. It’s not. Ontario continues to have the second-lowest program spending per capita of any province or territory in Canada.

McGuinty isn’t scheming to sell off Crown corporations because they don’t make money for taxpayers. They do. This year the LCBO, OLG, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation will earn over $4 billion in pure profit – and that’s on top of the tax revenues they bring in.

McGuinty isn’t cutting spending on health care and social services because he doesn’t have any money. He does. This year alone he will mail out over $2.8 billion in cheques to make Ontarians feel good about the HST.

The Premier is doing what he’s doing for one fundamental reason: He is changing Ontario to make it more profitable for business. This way business can keep on paying out the big bonuses that let top executives live even higher off the hog.

It is becoming more and more clear that the Premier is indifferent to the needs of regular people who need decent work and dependable public services. That’s why he can announce the closure of a residential treatment program in Sarnia that has been helping adolescent girls with mental health issues for 37 years. That’s why he can cut the food allowance for 124,000 people on social assistance.

It’s time to end the corporate welfare. It’s time to re-build our communities from the bottom up and help those first who need help most.

In solidarity,

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

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