During the last provincial election, many of you took time out of your busy schedules to help elect a progressive government who would protect workers’ rights and defend Ontario’s publicly funded healthcare system. You made hundreds of phone calls, knocked on countless doors, and had many personal conversations with SEIU members across Ontario about the provincial vote that took place on June 12th. Thank you!
SEIU members all had many different reasons why they volunteered in this election. But if there was one common theme that brought them together, it was a concern over the platform of Tim Hudak’s Conservatives.
Take Donna Thomas for example. She is an SEIU member at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She told us that “I am against Tim Hudak. The reason why is because he wants to cut 100,000 jobs and he wants to cut back on healthcare and our wages.”
Brenda Fortney, an SEIU member at Orillia Soldiers Memorial Hospital, felt the same way.
“Right off the bat, Hudak is talking about reducing jobs. This means firefighters, paramedics, teachers, nurses, educational assistants, water inspectors, and so many more. This is wrong.”
Eulalee Robinson, a SEIU Member from Winbourne Park Long-term care in Ajax, echoed their feelings. She was worried about where Hudak’s axe would fall.
“Am I one of those people that will get fired? How is he going to cut 100,000 jobs but create 1 million jobs at the same time? Is he going to get rid of our full-time jobs and replace it with part-time jobs? Take away our benefits and all of our rights? No! We have to stand up and we have to fight and we have to push back.”
But it wasn’t just Hudak’s obsession with firing 100,000 public sector workers that concerned them. They were also worried about their fellow PSWs and the impact a conservative government would have on their lives.
Serena Riley, an SEIU member from Extendicare, a long-term care home in Scarborough, was very concerned about Tim Hudak’s plan to scrap the Liberal government’s promise to increase the minimum wage for PSWs to $16.50 an hour.
“PSWs have just won a wage increase and now he is threatening to take that away,” she said.
Louisa Dourado, an SEIU member at Cedervale Terrace, a Toronto long-term care home, agreed.
“Our jobs are at stake. Wages are in dispute. I remember how hard it was for SEIU to get the $4 raise for PSWs. And I don’t want that taken away because they need a standard living wage.”
Carmen Barnwell, an SEIU member at the Victorian Order of Nurses in Peel region, couldn’t agree more. She also felt the Conservatives have done next to nothing over the past 3 years to learn more about the issues that are important to PSWs.
“Not once, that I can recall, did the Conservative members ever sit down with PSWs and speak to them about the issues that are important to them. They always had a reason why they couldn’t meet with us. The Liberals and the NDP members, on the other hand, have met with us many times. I will support them because they have supported me.”
These members got involved to make sure they didn’t lose the rights and benefits that took many years to achieve. A Hudak government would transform Ontario into one of the most anti-worker, anti-union provinces in Canada. It’s hard to imagine how most hardworking Ontarions would stand to benefit from any of his policies. The next time a politician promises to weaken workers’ rights, they had better realize organized labour and SEIU members will not stand idly by. They will take action!