Fewer public services isn’t the answer; demands set by COVID-19 prove this


COVID-19 has everyone understandably on edge. But we are in a good place – for now.

A robust healthcare system – with around-the-clock monitoring and world-class medical professionals – is the answer to protecting the public and coming up with even better protocols and solutions if there is a similar threat in the future.

At times like this, a government’s responsibility is to create confidence and provide positive results. It does this with a strong, prepared and eager workforce that is ready to tackle the issues of the day. This is the public service – dedicated folks on the front lines who do the heavy lifting and lead the charge to restore calm.

A well-functioning and equipped society works this way, and it is how Ontario is working right now.

We will be wise to think about this because a great way for Ontario, and Canada, to end up in a bad place is to cut and privatize government services to the point that they are ineffective. What a lesson this is for the private sector that is currently licking its wounds over $6 trillion lost on international stock markets because of vanishing consumer and investor confidence amid this global health scare.

This is Ontario’s future if we let Premier Doug Ford continue with his plan: privatize everything and then watch them cut and run once the going gets tough.

We’ve seen this before. Remember Walkerton? The Ontario government’s decision to privatize water testing left seven dead and thousands sick in 2000.

Under Mr. Ford’s watch, we hear that government is too big and that we need to be more ‘efficient’ in the way we do things. What a crock! If we fall into that kind of thinking we will surely see a Walkerton scenario again: poorly planned and poorly executed with deadly results because someone was motivated by profits rather than public interests.

And those who are now calling – from one side of their mouths – on government to do more about COVID-19, while on the other side demanding that government shrink should remember that you can’t have it both ways. The only way for government to do more is to be equipped with the means and people needed to respond in a way that prevents and protects. And this can’t be done just adequately – it must be done proficiently.

Focused, equipped, prepared, and motivated by the greater public good: this is the winning formula that government services and the people who deliver them can provide.

At a time when the global population is growing at an incredible rate, and as migration and travel routes get smaller due to seemingly non-stop technological advances, we must be prepared to meet changing times with health solutions based on human need – not corporate greed.

As we find ourselves in the midst of local and global concern over COVID-19, Ontarians should be thankful to the thousands of dedicated public professionals who are working hard to ensure our safety.

OPSEU is proud of the more than 165,000 public service employees we call members. Every day they put themselves on the line to serve.

To all public service employees in Ontario working hard and selflessly to keep us safe, I say thank you for everything you do and keep up the great work.

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer

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