Join us on December 15 at 6:30 pm for CUPE Connects Webisode 7: Ask Fred Anything!

Do you have a question, from the serious to the silly, you’ve always wanted to ask the President of CUPE Ontario but never had the chance? Well now’s your time!

On Tuesday, December 15th at 6:30, CUPE Ontario will be hosting its next episode of CUPE Connects! with our year end special: ASK FRED ANYTHING.

2020 has been quite a year and so we’re wrapping it with a webisode we hope will answer your CUPE/union questions but also share some laughs.

We also want ALL your questions. Wonder what the heck Doug Ford is doing in those daily COVID press conferences? ASK FRED. Need some advice on how to organize around an issue in your workplace or community? ASK FRED.

Or maybe, your questions for the President of CUPE Ontario are something completely different. Maybe you want to know about his seemingly endless supply of brightly coloured eyeglasses or what he’s most worried will show up in his Zoom background. Whatever the question, ASK FRED!

Our two co-hosts for the evening, amazing CUPE Ontario Executive Board leaders Yasmeen Mirza, Women’s Representative, and Peter Stapper, our Workers with Disabilities Representative, want to ASK FRED YOUR QUESTIONS.

Click here to register to join the webisode & ask questions

Webisode 7 Co-Hosts


Peter Stapper—CUPE Ontario Executive Board Member: Representative, Workers with Disabilities


Yasmeen Mirza—CUPE Ontario Executive Board Member: Representative, Women

Webisode 7 Guest Panelist


Fred Hahn—CUPE Ontario President

Webisode 6 Co-Hosts

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Dawn Bellerose, CUPE Ontario Executive Board Member, Indigenous Workers Representative, CUPE Ontario Human Rights Chair, Member of Thessalon First Nation


Dana Wesley is a member of Moose Cree First Nation and was raised in her home territory. She has lived in southern Ontario for many years and most recently has made Ottawa her home. She currently holds the position of Senior Officer (Indigenous Issues) at CUPE’s National Office in the Human Rights Department.

Webisode 6 Guest Panelists


Suze Morrison is the NDP Member of Provincial Parliament for Toronto Centre. MPP Morrison is the official opposition critic for tenant rights, urban Indigenous issues, and missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. She has overcome significant adversity to get to where she is today. Poverty, precarious housing, and learning how to understand her identity as a woman with mixed settler and Indigenous heritage are all critical parts of how she looks at policy from a progressive and intersectional lens. MPP Morrison lives in Toronto Centre with her husband Trevor and their dog Nova. When she’s not working for her community at Queen’s Park, she is an avid motorsports enthusiast and spends her free time competing in autocross events.


Skyler Williams is a Mohawk, Wolf Clan member of Six Nations Of The Grand River, who is an activist and Ironworker. Skyler has received national media attention as the spokesperson for 1492 Land Back Lane – the site of an ongoing struggle to protect traditional territory from a planned housing development. Skyler is driven by the need to protect this Haudenosaunee territory for future generations, even while facing threats by political leaders, police, and developers.


Joanne Webb is a retired CUPE member and community activist from Hamilton. Joanne was involved with CUPE from 1985 until her retirement in 2016, serving in various roles with CUPE Ontario, including as the Aboriginal Representative on the Ontario Executive Board. Joanne was an active member of CUPE Local 4800, Local 794, and Local 7800, holding various positions within the local. Joanne was active in the Hamilton and District CUPE Council and the Hamilton and District Labour Council. Joanne was the Aboriginal Vice President at the Ontario Federation of Labour.


Daniel Stevens, Alternate VP for the OFL FNMI Circle, Citizen of Nipissing First Nation of Anishinabek descent, and Member of OSSTF.

Missed the live webisode? Watch the video below.

Webisode 5 Host

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Tiffany Balducci is 4th Vice President of CUPE Ontario and President of Durham Region Labour Council.

Webisode 5 Guest Panelists

Elise Lee Lai is the Communications Officer at CUPE 1281 and is the Young Workers Representative on the CUPE Ontario Executive Board.
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Lindsey Bacigal – Indigenous Climate Action

Lindsey Bacigal is a Chickasaw, Polish and Irish Indigiqueer. She was born and raised in Michigan, but now lives on Anishinaabe territory in Ottawa, Ontario.

Lindsey comes from a working-class family and was not raised around activism, so her activist journey didn’t begin until her secondary education. Attending a primarily white, Catholic institution presented itself with many opportunities to work against conservative values and through this, Lindsey became an outspoken advocate for the rights of structurally oppressed groups. Following her graduation, Lindsey then earned a Master’s in Gender, Globalisation and Rights from the University of Ireland, Galway. Her final thesis explored the intersections between gender-based environmental violence, Indigenous women, colonialism, and human rights.

Lindsey then moved to so-called Canada, beginning work as the Communications Coordinator at Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and becoming heavily involved with the climate justice movement. She is now the Communications Director at Indigenous Climate Action.


Alina Przybyl – Migrant Students United

My name is Alina Przybyl and I am a migrant student from Poland. I am a recent graduate from Assaulted Women and Children Counsellor/Advocate program at George Brown College in Toronto and I have been organizing with Migrant Students United since March this year.
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Liisa Schofield, OCAP Organizer

Liisa Schofield is an elected organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty on the Raise the Rates campaign to raise social assistance rates in Ontario, as well as campaigns to win shelter and housing in Toronto amidst an ongoing housing and homelessness crisis. Liisa grew up on social assistance in Ontario and became politicized as a teenager when Mike Harris cut welfare by 21.6%. She brings together strategies of both labour and community organizing.

Missed the live webisode? Watch the video below.

Webisode 4 Co-Hosts


Debra Maxfield, Chair of the CUPE Ontario Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee

Debra Maxfield is the Chair of the CUPE Ontario Health Care Workers Coordinating Committee and member of CUPE Local 2557. Debra was first elected as her local’s Recording Secretary in 2006 and she remained in that role until 2013 when she became President of the local. Debra previously served as the Area 1 Representative for HCWCC beginning in 2010. Debra works in long-term care, where she began as a personal support worker, and has now transitioned into recreation and leisure.


Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services Sector

Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam is Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services Sector. Carrie Lynn is the Treasurer of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the 2017 Olivia Chow Child Care Champion Award winner. Carrie Lynn comes from Ottawa and is a proud CUPE 503 member where she serves as the Treasurer.

Webisode 4 Guest Panelists


Candace Rennick, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer

Born and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, Candace Rennick has been a member of CUPE since she began working at a local Long-Term Care facility when she was 16 years old.

Becoming a local union steward and bargaining committee member at the age of 19, Candace was elected the President of CUPE Local 2280 at 22, a position she held for seven years. Candace was first elected to the CUPE Ontario Executive Board in 2002, where she served four terms as a Vice-President.

In 2010, Candace made history when she was elected Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario, the province’s largest union, becoming the first woman and the youngest person ever elected to the position.

Candace is also a Regional Vice-President on the CUPE National Executive Board, a position she has held since 2003. During her time on the CUPE National Executive Board, Candace has served on a number of national committees, as well as representing CUPE internationally with the union’s global partner, the Public Services International.


Florence Mwangi, Personal Support Worker & CUPE Member

Florence has been employed as a personal support worker working in long-term care for the City of Toronto for over 10 years. She is an executive board member of CUPE Local 79. She takes pride in caring for her residents and making their days more enjoyable and livable.


Sharleen Stewart, President SEIU Healthcare

The eldest of six siblings, Sharleen Stewart grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She credits her mother for inspiring her to be strong and independent and her father for teaching her the importance of love and respect.

Dating back to the start of her career as a frontline hospital worker, Sharleen has always been an activist. Never one to shy away from what she believes in, she has spent decades amplifying the voices of healthcare workers and advocating for equality, respect and dignity. She knows that hard work should be rewarded fairly and equally, regardless of gender, race and beliefs.

Sharleen’s ability to mediate and find common ground is at the core of her solution-based personality. She sees herself as someone who supports people to get where they need to be. These are just a few of the qualities that led to her becoming the first woman elected as SEIU Healthcare President in 2003.

As SEIU International Vice-President, Sharleen is the first Canadian woman to sit on the SEIU International Executive Board. She is also the first SEIU woman to sit on the Canadian Labour Congress Executive Committee.

A proud Métis, Sharleen is humbled and honoured to represent SEIU Healthcare’s 60,000 members. She believes being a leader in the labour movement was what she was born to do.

As a mother and grandmother, Sharleen understands the importance of creating innovative and sustainable solutions that not only benefit today’s workers, but future generations as well.

Through hard work and innovation, Sharleen envisions SEIU Healthcare as a 21st century, solution-based union; a union that all members know makes their lives better; a union that teaches employers and governments that the labour movement is a valued partner, not an opponent.


Jackie Esmond, CUPE Lawyer

Jackie Esmonde is a CUPE lawyer. Prior to joining CUPE she practiced public interest law. Her inquiry and Commission experience includes the Ipperwash Inquiry, the Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.


Alessandro Presenza

Alessandro Presenza is a Human Rights student and advocate, a paralegal student, an advocate for the deaf community, an event-planner and a former missionary of 20 years to the Christian faith.

Alessandro’s dad died this spring. The last time he was allowed to see him before he was inhumanely cut off, was when the Home wouldn’t let family in anymore.

His dad was fine before this BUT after the eleventh day an R.N. told his “ he “went into depression from not seeing you guys”. He was told that his dad was eating less on the days leading up to the 10th day when he stopped eating altogether. Within two days of this he died.

“We were all devasted. This nightmare has changed their lives forever. He did NOT die of Covid-19. He gave up! He didn’t see us anymore. He went into depression. My dad died alone, confused, heartbroken. These measures are killing our loved ones. He speaks for hundreds of families. They have a social media presence now that is advocating for seniors.

Missed the live webisode? Watch the video below.

Webisode 3 Co-Hosts

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Dawn Bellerose, CUPE Ontario Executive Board Member, Indigenous Workers Representative, CUPE Ontario Human Rights Chair, Member of Thessalon First Nation


Kimalee Phillip, CUPE National Human Rights Representative

Webisode 3 Guest Panelists


Sarah Jama, Community Organizer and Co-Founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario

Sarah Jama is a community organizer from Hamilton, Ontario. She is the co-founder of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO), an organization committed to building the political and community power of people with disabilities. She currently works at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion as the Senior Program Coordinator. In her current role, she is building leadership curriculum for youth around organizing inside and outside political structures, to be disseminated locally at different schools.

CUPE Trans Pride March (3)

Susan Gapka, CUPE Ontario Executive Board Member, Pink Triangle Representative 

Susan Gapka is a dedicated campaigner for social justice highlighting her record on affordable housing, homelessness, mental health, harm reduction & lesbian, gay, bisexual & trans issues since coming out as a community leader more than 20 years ago.

As founder and chair of the Trans Lobby Group Susan helped lead a lengthy campaign to persuade the Minister of Health to fund Sex Reassignment Surgery for trans people in Ontario, helped change the Vital Statistics Act sex designation so that trans people’s legal documents more accurately reflect their lived identity, and amended the Ontario Human Rights Code to include ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’.
Susan has served on the Toronto Local Advisory Committee & as Toronto representative on the National Consumer Panel of the At Home/Chez Soi Research Demonstration Project, the Housing Component for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

She also served on the Board of Pride Toronto which hosted World Pride 2014 and is past Fierté Canada Pride’s Central Regional Director for Ontario.

Susan has been employed at The 519 since 2015 in the Education Department as an Education and Training facilitator. She was elected to CUPE Ontario Pink Triangle Committee in December 2017 and appointed to CUPE National Pink Triangle Committee in January 2018. In December 2018 Susan was elected to CUPE Ontario Women’s Committee. In July 2019 Susan was appointed to CUPE Ontario Executive Board as their Pink Triangle representative.

Susan has a degree in Political Science from York University & a diploma in Community Work from George Brown College.‎


Michael Freeman, National Equity Representative for Persons with Disabilities

Missed the live webisode? Watch the video below.


Webisode 2 Co-Hosts


Yolanda McClean, CBTU Canada President and CUPE Ontario Second Vice-President

A champion in the fight for equality, Yolanda McClean the is CUPE National’s Diversity Vice-President and is the 2nd Vice President for CUPE Ontario. She is a progressive voice for change in CUPE, the labour movement and the community.

Yolanda is the president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionist, providing a strong voice for black worker within the trade union movement and challenging organized labour to be more relevant to the needs and aspirations of black workers.

As Equity Vice- President for CUPE 4400 (representing 13,000 Toronto Education Workers), Yolanda has firsthand experience with struggles of workers-particularly part-timers- for better wages and benefits, good working conditions and strong public services.


Brittany Nisbett, CUPE Ontario Executive Board Member and CUPE 2977 Recording Secretary

Brittany Nisbett is a Member at Large for CUPE Ontario and is the Co Chair for the CUPE Ontario Health and Safety committee. She is also the Recording Secretary for CUPE Local 2977, a position she has held since 2016. Brittany is passionate about helping others, it is this passion that drives her to be an activist within CUPE. Brittany comes from the Niagara Region where she works a Developmental Support Services Worker.

Webisode 2 Guest Panelists

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Kaitlyn Gonsalves, MHSc (C) HBSc, CUPE 3902 Member, Master of Health Science Candidate, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto

Kaitlyn Gonsalves strives for insightful and nuanced discussions surrounding complex healthcare problems. She fiercely advocates for racialized patients to keep them at the core of health-care solutions, while championing for patient advocacy within racialized underserved communities. She passionately advocates for vulnerable communities to have equal and equitable access to healthcare. She is always expanding her knowledge of social determinants of health and new learnings under prison and police abolitionists movements, with a lens on understanding the nuanced intersections of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, and inequity. She is focused on the right to health for all. Kaitlyn has expertise in neuroscience, psychology, public health, and knowledge translation and implementation in healthcare. Kaitlyn holds a Hon. B.Sc. in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour from McMaster University. Kaitlyn is a Master of Health Science Candidate in Translational Research in Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, Faculty of Medicine, at University of Toronto and she is a member of CUPE 3902.


Tanya Williams, CUPE 1156 Member, University Health Network Worker

Tanya Williams has worked in the healthcare sector for over 20 years and knows firsthand what it means to be a frontline worker.

Her employment history includes both acute and complex medical/long-term care facilities.

She is an advocate for injured workers rights, women’s rights and gender equality to mention a few for over a decade.

She recently lobbied and worked with others to increase protections for healthcare workers including changing laws to protect healthcare workers from violence.

Aside from her activism and being a frontline worker, she is a mother to a wonderful 10-year-old boy and enjoys spending as much time with him and she does advocating for others.


Paul Sylvestre, CUPE Health & Safety Representative

Paul Sylvestre is a servicing representative with the Health and Safety branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). He advocates on behalf of CUPE members from the workplace sectors of Health Care, Social Services, Municipal, School Boards and Post-Secondary. He has gained knowledge of the issues directly from workers in various public and private sector workplaces across southern Ontario through his many years as an activist and as an instructor. His passion lies in consensus building among stakeholders towards bettering health and safety conditions for everyone in the workplace. He currently works out of CUPE’s regional office in Markham, Ontario.

Missed the live webisode? Watch the video below.


Webisode 1 Co-Hosts


Laura Walton, President of the Ontario School Board Council of Unions


Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services Sector.

Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam is Chair of the CUPE Ontario Social Services Sector. Carrie Lynn is the Treasurer of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and the 2017 Olivia Chow Child Care Champion Award winner. Carrie Lynn comes from Ottawa and is a proud CUPE 503 member where she serves as the Treasurer.

Webisode 1 Guest Panelists

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Nigel Barriffe, Elementary Teachers of Toronto Executive Officer

A community organizer, elementary teacher and executive officer with the Elementary Teachers of Toronto, Nigel is a Board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Board Chair of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and a member of the Good Jobs For All Coalition. Nigel’s activist work focuses on quality public education, good green jobs, and a more just society for all inside and outside the classroom.


Carolyn Ferns, Public Policy Coordinator at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care.

Carolyn Ferns is the Public Policy Coordinator at the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. Carolyn has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Early Childhood Studies. She is a member of the Board of Directors of both Child Care Now and the Childcare Resource and Research Unit. Carolyn is a child care representative on the CUPE Social Services Coordinating Committee, sits on the CUPE National Child Care Working Group and is a member of CUPE 2484.


Doly Begum, Ontario NDP Member of Provincial Parliament for Scarborough Southwest.

Doly Begum is the Ontario NDP Member of Provincial Parliament for Scarborough Southwest. She moved to Canada as a child with her parents and younger brother, and has lived in Scarborough most of her life.
Doly was the chief coordinator of the province-wide Keep Hydro Public campaign that successfully stopped the privatization of Toronto Hydro and Wasaga Distribution. She is the former Co-Chair of the Scarborough Health Coalition and Vice-Chair of Warden Woods Community Centre, where she worked hard to make lives better for the people of Scarborough.

Doly is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has a Masters in Development, Administration & Planning from University College London. She was elected to the Ontario Legislature in June 2018 and is the first Canadian of Bangladeshi origin to hold elected office at any level in Canada. At Queen’s Park, Doly is the Official Opposition Critic for Early Learning and Childcare and also serves as Deputy Whip.


Romana Siddiqui, Ontario Parents Action Network

Born and raised in Toronto to Pakistani immigrants, I am now a soccer mom to three youth athletes. I grew up in North York and completed my undergraduate degree at York University in Political Science. Due to my husband’s work, our family has lived in Kingston ON and London ON before settling down in Mississauga. I have been involved in school council for the past few years and more recently in community advocacy. I am passionate about social justice issues and speaking truth to power. Having been a stay at home parent for many years, I am finding my way in how to best use my voice to speak out about issues that affect my community.