A south view of Ontario Legislative Building, Toronto. WikimediaWith the Ford Conservatives refusing to listen to the experts, driving us into yet another avoidable lockdown, CUPE Ontario has renewed its call for measures to keep Ontarians safe and supported.

“This feels like the plot of that movie Don’t Look Up, where the political leaders ignore experts warning of the massive meteor headed directly for earth, only admit at the last moment that a ‘tsunami’ is coming and that we must ‘brace for impact’,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “It’s time to finally listen to the experts, like the scientists, workers, unions, and community organizations, and avert this crisis once and for all.”

CUPE Ontario, which represents 280,000 public sector workers in the province, calls on the Province to:

  • Legislate 10 permanent, employer-provided paid sick days - 14 during a pandemic;
  • Repeal Bill 124;
  • Ensure that testing is public and available for all;
  • Resume and add supports for laid off workers

“The one silver lining to the last two years is that there’s now a growing and widespread consensus about what we truly need, in good times and in bad,” said Hahn. “We need permanent paid sick days, not the insufficient three that are only available until July. We need to repeal legislation like Bill 124 which actively suppresses wages and benefits of healthcare and other public sector workers at below the increase to the cost of living at time of significant staff shortages. We need to significantly ramp up testing and make it public so it’s accessible and affordable for all. And Ontarians impacted by this lockdown must be able to rely on income supports, an eviction ban, a rent freeze, rent relief, and whatever else is necessary. We can make all of this a reality today by finally investing in and fortifying public services, like hospitals and schools, empowering us to effectively deal with this pandemic.”

“The chaos we are all experiencing didn’t have to happen – the scale of this wave was not inevitable,” added Hahn. “There have been a series of intentional choices made by Doug Ford and his Conservative government that have unquestionably made where we are today worse.  In times of challenge, we need government to invest, to lead. Instead, we have leaders who are throwing up their hands, refusing to invest, increasingly relying on for-profit corporations, and refusing to do what has been known for almost two years to help.”