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Poor or broke?

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Dear friends,

The way the Ontario government goes on about cutting costs these days, you’d almost think we were poor.

We’re not. Broke, maybe. But definitely not poor.

What’s the difference? Well, when I was a kid I was taught that being “poor” means you don’t have enough money to live: you’re choosing between paying the Hydro bill and putting food on the table. “Broke” is something else. It means you have enough money coming in, but you spend it on the wrong things.

In my job as Treasurer of OPSEU, that’s how I see the current Liberal government in Ontario.

There is lots of money in this province. Despite the last recession, the size of our economy (GDP) per person will soon hit a new record high. But if our province is rich, then why is our government poor?

It isn’t. It’s just broke.

These Liberals, like the Tories before them, just can’t stop throwing away money on things that don’t help us live better.

Since 1995, those two parties have looted the public treasury by giving massive tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy. And they’ve been more than eager to privatize public services even when a well-managed public sector can do the work with higher quality at lower cost while protecting good jobs to boot.

If this Liberal government is broke, it has no one to blame but itself.

Maybe they just have the wrong idea of “success.” It’s obvious to me that, to them, a society’s success is defined by the profits its corporations make. If the few at the top are doing well, then we’re all doing well, right?

Wrong. The Ontario we’re seeing today is increasingly unequal. As corporate profits soar and top CEO salaries round off to $8 million a year, 28 per cent of the workforce is scraping by on $14.25 an hour or less.

We will never make Ontario stronger if we think that one person’s labour is worth hundreds of times more than another’s. To get back on track, we need a strong, accountable, well-funded government that has the interests of all citizens at heart. That’s step one towards rebalancing our province and building a society that is truly successful.

Because we aren’t poor. And we don’t have to be broke.

In solidarity,

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President/Treasurer, OPSEU

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