'More than one million public sector workers have paycheques that are tied to the province. That’s a lot of voters.'
Toronto (17 Nov. 2009) - The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is putting the province on notice that the way it handles public services in the current economic crisis may affect its fate in the next election – now less than two years away.
"Ontario voters go to the polls in a provincial election on Oct. 6, 2011," notes OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "That’s actually pretty soon. In two months we’ll being saying the election is 'next year.'
"What will that election be about? I don’t have a crystal ball. Sometimes the unexpected happens. But unless something really unusual happens it’s a pretty good guess that public services and the economy are going to be top-of-mind issues for most voters."
Thomas says Premier Dalton McGuinty did not cause the global economic meltdown and should not be held responible for it.
"But two years from now you can bet that voters will be asking whether he helped or harmed the economic recovery – and whether he helped or harmed the province’s bottom line," Thomas argues.
"On public services, we all know that the demand for them goes up during a recession. How well Mr. McGuinty protects and sustains our public services is certain to be a key factor in his re-election. Or his defeat."
Thomas says the temptation for McGuinty – facing a $24.7 billion deficit – will be to try to "take some of that money out of the pockets" of public employees. "This is a risky approach," he warns.
"While OPSEU represents about 125,000 workers in the Ontario public sector, in total more than one million public sector workers have paycheques that are tied to the province. That’s a lot of voters. Two years from now, a big chunk of those one million workers will be standing in a polling booth," Thomas says.
"I won’t be surprised if the big question we’ll all be asking is this: 'When times were tough, did Dalton McGuinty treat public sector workers fairly?'"
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 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