They call it “austerity.”
As you know, the main thrust of the Ontario budget that passed this week at Queen’s Park is cuts and privatization. Under this budget plan, Ontarians will lose services they need, workers will lose jobs and wages, and corporations will see their profits go up.
Your bosses may tell you this is about the provincial deficit. It’s not. Public spending did not cause the deficit; indeed, Ontario spends less per person on public services than any other province in Canada. The plain truth is that this budget is designed to transfer money from the pockets of working people to the profits of corporate leaders. That’s who Premier Dalton McGuinty listens to.
It is only thanks to Andrea Horwath and the NDP that we were able to make the budget a little bit fairer. Thanks to Andrea’s hard work, a modest tax increase on the super-rich will raise close to half a billion dollars for public coffers – and public services. Thanks to her, child care centres and people scraping by on social assistance or ODSP will have a few more dollars to help them survive. And thanks to her, McGuinty will find it much harder to hand over regulation of industries (like trucking, for example) to the industries themselves.
But since the election last October, it has become crystal clear that McGuinty simply doesn’t care if hospitals lose their physiotherapists or schoolchildren lose their playgrounds. He doesn’t care if the economic drag from his budget saps the economy and costs tens of thousands of jobs. He doesn’t care if a part-time worker making $20,000 a year at a group home takes a pay cut. And he certainly doesn’t care if the U.S. government has access to your personal data after S erviceOntario is privatized. He just doesn’t care.
The debate at Queen’s Park shone a bright light on McGuinty’s plan to sell ServiceOntario. Under McGuinty’s plan, the financial gains from expanded online services will go to private profits, not the people of Ontario and not the OPSEU members who work so hard to make ServiceOntario the success it is. Privatization is a rip-off, pure and simple. And as the ORNGE fiasco shows, it always will be.
Your OPSEU Executive Board is determined to protect the interests of our members at ServiceOntario and at every other workplace we represent. We will stand up for the work we do and the people who do it. In the workplace, at the bargaining table, on the street, and in the news, your union will be there. We will also play a big role in the upcoming by-election in Kitchener-Waterloo, because if Dalton is dangerous with a minority government he will be a dictator if he gets a majority.
Working people are under attack right around the world. But we’re fighting back right around the world, too. I look forward to marching beside you as our struggle continues.
To see President Thomas discussing the budget on TV, and for more information and analysis, click here.