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TORONTO Ontario Communities that towed the line on Mike Harriss work-for-welfare scheme got their reward today. Its in the form of welfare call centres which will virtually gut the provinces support system for welfare recipients.

That blunt assessment comes from CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Brian OKeefe, a former welfare worker with the City of Toronto.

The province today announced the locations for the new regional call centres, which will be set up to handle clients of the provinces welfare system.

The call centres will be located in the following regions:

* Algoma DSSAB (Northern/North East Region) ranked 5th in workfare compliance;

* County of Grey (South West Region) ranked 9th in workfare compliance;

* City of Peterborough (Central East Region) ranked 16th in workfare compliance;

* County of Hastings (Eastern/South East Region) ranked 24th in workfare compliance;

* Regional Municipality of Peel (Central West Region) ranked 20th in workfare compliance;

* Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth (Hamilton/ Niagara Region) ranked 31st.

Says OKeefe, not only is this a cynical move to get rid of actual frontline welfare workers, it is the first step in what will inevitably result in the privatization of these vital services.

Senior managers in the welfare system have told CUPE that workfare compliance was high in the criteria for the RFP process used to allocate the call centres.

For information:

Brian OKeefe, Secretary-Treasurer, CUPE Ontario

(416) 299-9739 (o), (416) 579-7414 (cell)

John McCracken, CUPE Communications Representative

(905) 508-6391 (h)

Margot Young, CUPE Research Representative

(613) 789-3163 (h)

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