United we stand, divided we fall. We are much stronger when we work together.
It is a lesson I learned during my childhood on the farm and it still holds true today; we can achieve great things through collective action.
The history of the labour movement is full of good examples, like achieving the five-day work week and parental benefits, just to name a couple. Our history proves that action will take us where we must go. Division will not.
So, where are we going? I believe our objective is clear: to build a strong and resilient Ontario that can weather any storm; where people can live, work and raise a family without undue fear or suffering.
Just like in farming communities, we must create the best environment for Ontario, and its people, to grow. Our success will come down to the following four ‘R’s:
- Reimagining Ontario, and what our province can be. Public sector workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic. We have creative ideas and solutions and it is time for the politicians to sit down with us and listen.
- Recognizing the heroic efforts of front-line public sector workers, who will help get us where we need to go, by improving their wages and working conditions.
- Rejecting the austerity and privatization agenda that got us into this mess in the first place; and
- Reinvesting in the robust public services – like health care and education – that will make Ontario the envy of the world once again.
You reap what you sow. During the COVID crisis, Ontario has been reaping the consequences of decades of cuts and privatization. For many Ontarians it has been a rude awakening; to witness the hospital capacity crisis first-hand or the abysmal living conditions in long-term care.
It has been a real wake up call to see how vulnerable and unprepared our province was when the COVID crisis hit.
No doubt, this disaster has brought people together and reframed their priorities. It has challenged their notions of what is truly essential, and it has made them thankful for the often thankless jobs that front-line workers do to keep our province running.
Public support for strong public services is at an all-time high, and this crisis has revived a sense of solidarity among working people of all stripes. But achieving our shared goal to build a better, safer Ontario will take all of us pulling together and working to our strengths – not bickering or arguing.
Our teamwork can make the dream work. We must plant the seeds for a strong public sector, and we must continue to water it and care for it, so that Ontarians can reap the rewards for many years to come.
We will harvest the benefits of the systems we sow today. It is OPSEU/SEFPO members on the front-lines, tending to the proverbial crops. We know what Ontario needs to become a stronger and more resilient province, and we will continue to fight for it. But we must do so by working together.
We are 180,000 members strong and much more powerful than we think. After this lockdown ends, let’s work together to shape Ontario. While healthy debate, and even disagreement, can be productive, now is the time to focus on building solidarity to prepare for a brand new, post-pandemic world.
Our united action will make us even stronger, and with that, we will accomplish great things.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer