The New Year brings new challenges and new opportunities. It’s a time for predictions and premonitions. Here’s one: 2015 will be a pivotal year for OPSEU. Bargaining, organizing, mobilizing and a full defence of hard-earned contract rights will be on our “front burner”.
Let’s consider a few other predictions. First (thanks in large part to OPSEU) when Premier Wynne fails to change her heavy handed and arrogant ways, Ontarians will loudly demand truthful answers from her. When they don’t get them they will turn away and hold her accountable. Wynne will then learn, as did former Alberta Premier Allison Redford, that the electorate can run out of patience when it sees arrogance, entitlement and scandal.
This year, the OPP will finally lay charges against Liberal insiders due to scandals related to the cancelled gas plant and deleted government emails. Adding to this, the Minister of Community and Social Services (MCSS) will be shuffled from her office when the rising political cost of her errors forces the Premier to admit that MCSS botched implementation of the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS). Even so, SAMS needlessly continues to hurt thousands of Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens.
Early in 2015 the Liberals, desperate to recapture the Sudbury electoral seat, will toss out a lot of rhetoric about northern expansion and the "Ring of Fire". Much to their chagrin, though, Sudbury voters don't buy it on e-day.
We’ll also see the Pan Am games come in vastly over budget. Key Liberals, part of the games bid and development committee, will be found wining and dining at taxpayer expense. There will, at the same time, be little movement by the Liberals with the proposed Ontario Pension Plan, transit investments and infrastructure.
In 2015 the value of the Canadian dollar will continue to fall relative to the US greenback. While this will be of marginal benefit to manufacturing, it will add to the cost of imports purchased with the lower-value loonie. That means higher prices for some consumer goods, further squeezing the personal budgets of Ontario workers and their families.
Realization will grow through 2015 that individual credit and debt cannot drive the economy forward. This will lend support to ever louder calls for wage increases for working people and others in the middle class.
Through the year housing prices in areas hard hit by economic decline will come under immense downward pressure. A decline in these prices will bring a reduction to the assets of those who held their homes as a retirement nest egg.
Federal New Democrats will learn that team play and support for their leader can go a long way towards strengthening that party’s electoral fortunes. At the same time the federal Conservatives will find that the general election has brought them a surprising result. This caps a period where they suffer from a long round of revealing and explosive proclamations at the Mike Duffy corruption trial.
I believe that in 2015, women will be at the top of all Ontario political parties, after Christine Elliot becomes Ontario PC leader. Disillusioned with this, red meat PCs will sit on their wallets and withhold funding for that party. As Elliot moves the party closer to the political centre, a new and extreme provincial right wing movement will emerge.
At the same time traditional Liberals, tired of scandal will look for a new home. The Ontario’s NDP will be pushed to decide whether it will turn itself into a contender by adapting to this opportunity, or whether it will play it safe and stick with their far smaller traditional base thereby remaining an opposition party.
Ontario unions will realize that OPSEU was right in its assessments of the Wynne Liberals. When these unions come to that realization, they begin to hold Wynne and her party to account. They find lots of opportunities to do so as the many scandals from P3s and the incestuous relationship Liberals have with their corporate pals in the “privatization industry” come to light. Seeing these corrupt private sector boondoggles, even more Ontarians will agree that only the real public sector can provide public services better, cheaper and fairer.
The year ahead will see an unprecedented growth in the desire of part-time community colleges workers to be represented by a union. Communications and technology will play a key role in OPSEU reaching out to communities to win hearts and minds. Through this, OPSEU will continue to grow, modernize and build for the future.
In 2015 there will be weather events, geopolitical tensions, wars and tragedies. Amidst all the gloom, there will be hope and many triumphs of the human spirit. This is why 2015 will be a year when people demand more from their leaders.
It will be the year that we all take greater care of each other and planet Earth.
The union movement will lead the transformation according the principles of solidarity. The principles are simple yet profound. Let’s review them.
- We are in this together.
- United, we become stronger than when we stand apart.
- Power lies in the collective voices of people.
- We have a duty to pass on a better world to the next generation.
Yes, 2015 will be a year of challenge and change!
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU