A Labour Day message from CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn and Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick

Labour unions play a critical role in our society. We are the protectors. Protectors of working people, protectors of our communities, and protectors of the public services we all need.  We’re proud to work in coalition with others to demand better for our collective future.

All of Ontario’s wealth and prosperity is generated by its people, working hard everyday, in communities big and small but more and more of that wealth is only going to those at the very top.

In our current political climate, the role of unions is critical to protecting our way of life.

Decades of corporate tax cuts, privatization deals and government decisions to underfund public services have made life more difficult for most of us. It’s why Ontario’s new Premier, Doug Ford, ran for election telling everyone he was on the side of the “little guy.” It’s why Ford promised no cuts to public services and no job losses.

The actions of Ford’s government in his first few weeks in office don’t match with his slogans on the campaign trail.

In Ford’s first official week in office, he cut $100 million that was supposed to go to all our local schools for vital repairs.  He diverted money for mental health programs to police budgets and cut funding for programs that help at-risk youth. His government has rolled back desperately needed social assistance increases and plans to cancel the minimum wage increase along with other gains made through the work of $15 and Fairness.

Ford’s first piece of government legislation violated the constitutional rights of striking workers. In the middle of municipal elections, he has brought in sweeping changes to reduce local democracy in Niagara, Muskoka, Peel Region and Toronto. He has rolled back our schools’ sex-ed curriculum to a time before cell phones and has created a hotline to encourage people to snitch on teachers rather than addressing any concerns with the schools themselves.

Despite all of this being done in the dead of summer when less people are around to notice, CUPE Ontario has been there working with people in our communities, pushing back and fighting for what is right. We will continue to do everything we can to protect our communities.

Labour Day is a time to reflect on the important contributions all working people bring to our province. It’s a time to recommit to the building the kind of a society we want to live in – one where we care for our aging parents and invest in a bright future for our kids, one where we have the services we need to help our communities thrive.

In difficult times we can sometimes feel like we’re struggling alone. Some politicians will use this to pit us against each other. At every stage we must resist this attempt to break the solidarity of working people.

Despite repeatedly promising no service cuts during the election, Premier Ford has now announced an online survey to get the public’s feedback on how his government can cut over $6 billion in government spending. That’s billion with a “B”!

Rather than making corporations pay their fair share in taxes, they want the public to tell them if they should cut child care or care for seniors, health care or education, services or people’s wages. They’re creating false choices and hoping we’ll accept them at face value. They are looking for a way to blame the public, “the people”, for any and all cuts they want to bring in. We can’t let that happen.

CUPE Ontario will do everything within our power to protect our communities, the public services we all need and will fight to make sure all workers have the good jobs they deserve. We can’t do this alone. We must all work together so we can protect the people of Ontario and make sure we have a society where no one gets left behind.

Together we must be bold, be brave and demand better.

Fred Hahn,

Candace Rennick,