Today CUPE Ontario marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme of decent work and social protection reflects the core work of our union, since it is through collective bargaining that we claim the share of the wealth and prosperity we help create.

CUPE Ontario is also proud to represent the very public sector workers who, every day, deliver the vital services that help to reduce poverty and inequality.

As part of the fight to eradicate poverty, we must fight to retain, protect and expand public services. A CUPE report in 2019 looked at a Statistics Canada study that measured the value of public services to the average person. It found that the benefits of public services in 2018 averaged $12,500 per person – an amount worth far more to the lives and budgets of the poor than those of the wealthy.

Yet as our public services come under greater attack, it is a strong reminder that poverty and its eradication are political choices. When Doug Ford and the PCs choose to restrict, cut and privatize public services, they are choosing to perpetuate a system that is rigged against the poor. They have doubled down on policies that keep people locked into poverty, including an inadequate minimum wage; miserly rates for Ontarians on ODSP and OW; the loss of rent controls; the privatization of hospital services, child care services and long-term care; and the lack of decent, adequately paid, secure jobs.

CUPE Ontario is proud to stand with unions and community and social justice organizations in calling for the measures that will eradicate poverty. Among these are fair taxation on corporations and the wealthy to support strong social services; a strategy for deeply affordable housing; keeping profit out of our hospitals and long-term care; accessible, affordable child care that is publicly delivered; a system of public education, properly funded at all levels; and municipalities that are funded to provide the community and local pubic services that residents need and deserve.

Ending poverty will require a re-ordering of governmental and society priorities to emphasize equity, social justice and inclusion. However, these are all principles that CUPE Ontario members strive toward every day and they position us to play a leading role in the efforts to eradicate poverty in our time.