Ontario labour, community activists unite in call for end to austerity


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UFCW Canada presenting on the Ontario 2016 pre-budget consultations


Toronto – February 3, 2016 – UFCW Canada activists recently joined hundreds of labour and community allies from across Ontario at a major rally against austerity and privatization in Toronto.

Organized by the Ontario Health Coalition, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and the Ontario Common Front, the rally called on the provincial government to reverse its cuts to hospitals, post-secondary education, and various social programs amidst growing inequality and creeping privatization in the province.  

Activists marched to the south lawn of the Ontario provincial legislature demanding an end to privatization and austerity and urging the government to properly fund health care, education, and other social services in Ontario. The rally coincided with the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs' pre-budget consultation hearing at Queen's Park.

Funding cuts to Ontario's health care, education, and social services have come as a result of the Ontario government's pledge to balance the budget by the end of the next fiscal year. The province is also moving ahead with its plan to privatize Hydro One.

"The government's austerity measures have resulted in cuts to health care funding, nursing positions, and physician fees, all while student debt and income inequality continue to rise," said Paul Meinema, the national president of UFCW Canada. "Our union believes this is completely unacceptable, and that is why we are joining working Ontarians from across the province in demanding an end to austerity," Meinema added.

Following the rally, UFCW Canada made a formal presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on February 2, calling for progressive alternatives to austerity measures and outlining ways in which the government can invest in Ontario's future.

At the consultation, UFCW Canada's Regional Director for Ontario, Derek Johnstone, encouraged the provincial government to invest in health care, good-paying jobs, affordable child care, retirement security for everyone, and post-secondary education to boost Ontario's economy and combat income inequality in the process.

Brother Johnstone explained that implementing a card check certification system, working with the federal government to expand the Canada Pension Plan, investing in long-term health care and home care, and introducing a publicly-funded, affordable child care system would not only create thousands of jobs, but would also reduce poverty and inequality in Ontario. Download a copy of the UFCW submission on the 2016 Ontario Budget.