Over the course of this pandemic, we’ve seen that people who were already facing systemic barriers are the ones facing the greatest impacts now. Racialized communities, the LGBTQ2S+ community, and others marginalized by a foundationally unequal system have faced the brunt of COVID-19.

And so it’s deeply concerning that, rather than extending more robust supports for all Ontarians, the Ford Conservatives are pushing legislation that only does more harm with the misleadingly titled “Better for People, Smarter for Business Act” bill. CUPE Ontario’s Pink Triangle Committee and CUPE Ontario’s University Workers Coordinating Committee, representing more than 30,000 members, are outraged by this plan and call on allies to reject it.

A section of the bill includes turning the Canada Christian College – a private for-profit institution with a history of homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia – into a university with the power to grant bachelor of science and arts degrees.

“Premier Ford has learned to camouflage his hidden agenda in omnibus legislation in much the same way the President of Canadian Christian College, Charles McVety, hides his homophobia and transphobia behind his religious beliefs,” said Susan Gapka, chair of the Pink Triangle Committee. “LGBTA2S+ people, especially racialized and indigenous members, have been disproportionately negatively impacted by COVID-19 and I am appalled that this legislation contains this offensive component.”

“It also completely undermines our work of raising and maintaining the standards of Ontario’s post-secondary education system,” said David Simao, chair of CUPE Ontario’s University sector. “We know the people of Ontario don’t support the privatization of public education, or having their provincial government show any support to organization like this one. More than ever we need to bolster our publicly-funded post-secondary system, and this plan serves as an insult to public institutions struggling under the weight of COVID-19.”

McVety is a long-time supporter of Premier Ford. This is someone whose television show was cancelled because the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council determined he made “malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial” remarks about the gay community. McVety has made outlandishly Islamophobic statements and even hosted anti-Islam activist Geert Wilders at the college.

No one should be supporting such an institution and its president, especially not now when their targets are among the most impacted in these times.

“This move is simply about further privatizing our public education system, and lending support to those who spread discrimination and hate, period,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “People deserve to know this is what our provincial government is doing: hiding their true agenda during a global pandemic.”

It’s time to reinvigorate the resistance that was building in communities before the pandemic struck. We need to make sure the Ford Conservatives understand that the people of Ontario do not support this direction by pushing back against this piece of legislation and ensuring that nothing like this ever gets proposed again.

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