Throne Speech sets right tone, but time for action

Warren (Smokey) Thomas in a blue suit standing at a podiu
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Toronto – The Ontario government has struck an encouraging tone in today’s Throne Speech, but OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the Conservatives must now turn those words into immediate action by establishing and maintaining a laser focus on pandemic recovery.

“We’re pleased to see that Ontario is focused on recovery and growth, not a return to privatization and deregulation,” said Thomas. “Clearly, they’ve heard our union’s message – that the path forward depends on building capacity by investing, not cutting.”

After an extended summer hiatus, the provincial government has delivered a Throne Speech that hits the right notes about increasing capacity by investing in health care, long-term care, roads and transit, in an effort to spur economic growth and prosperity.

But Thomas cautions the true test of Ontario’s success will come with swift action, not just words. “We need to see substantial investments in health care to increase capacity, more Long Term Care beds and increased staffing for both,” said Thomas. “This must happen now, not years into the future.”

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the union will be watching closely to ensure every cent of promised funding gets delivered, including $5 billion over four years to improve staffing in long-term care and an additional $2.8 billion for 30,000 new beds over the next decade.

“This funding is a good start, and most importantly, it marks a commitment to move in the right direction toward building capacity, and away from austerity,” said Almeida. “Finally, our government is acknowledging that privatization has failed our most vulnerable seniors and that past governments – including Conservative ones – have grossly mismanaged the long-term care file.”

The union is also applauding the government’s commitment to continue with a cautious, science-based approach to re-opening, and its recognition that the pandemic has touched Ontarians unevenly. But, Thomas says they must nurture greater dialogue and collaboration with those affected, including Indigenous communities. “We’ve witnessed the disproportionate impact this pandemic has had on our most vulnerable, including our heroic front-line workers who’ve put their own health and safety on the line to keep Ontario safe,” said Thomas.

“Ontario needs a recovery plan that focuses on the front line; on respect for front-line workers, and their right to bargain freely. That must start with the repeal of Bill 124 and its unconstitutional wage cap. It’s time to put today’s 22-minute Throne Speech into meaningful action,” said Thomas.

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas. 613-329-1931