“I thought I’d seen everything, but a government that resorts to extortion to get support for its heartless policy decisions? That’s a new low." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Toronto (14 Feb. 2019) —Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, should resign immediately for trying to pressure a group to publicly support the Ford government’s changes to autism services, Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE), said Thursday.
Conservative government bullying autism service providers
“I can’t tell you how disappointed I am in Lisa MacLeod,” Thomas said. “It’s bad enough she’s become the Minister of Mean, but it’s unbelievable she would bully others to pay lip service to Doug Ford’s attack on autistic children.”
Thomas is appalled by reports that MacLeod and her staff demanded the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis provide a quote endorsing the Ford cutbacks to autism services.
The association says it was told if it didn’t knuckle under, it would face “4 long years.”
Public inquiry needed to clear air
Thomas says the Ford government has descended to new depths by turning the screws on frontline experts to provide platitudes.
“I thought I’d seen everything, but a government that resorts to extortion to get support for its heartless policy decisions? That’s a new low,” Thomas said.
Thomas is also calling for a public inquiry to clear the air on MacLeod's order to pressure the behavior analysts to toe the Ford line.
Premier Ford previously complained about autistic youth
Thomas noted that Ford complained about autistic youth long before he became premier. Published reports indicate that when Ford was on Toronto council in 2014, he said that a group home for autistic youth had “ruined” a neighbourhood in his ward.
“Did Ford’s ‘not in my neighbourhood’ attitude toward kids with autism influence his government’s mean-spirited program cuts? Did he order his minister to scare groups into supporting his cruel program cuts? The Premier’s office has some explaining to do,” Thomas said.
OPSEU/NUPGE pledges 4 "long years" if government ignores frontline workers
OPSEU/NUPGE’s frontline members directly provide support for kids with autism, helping them lead productive lives. Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer, says the Ford cutbacks make it far more difficult to provide the help children need.
“If Ford doesn’t stop being a bully and keeps ignoring frontline workers, OPSEU/NUPGE is going to make it a long 4 years for him and his MPPs,” Almeida said.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE