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NDP leader Jack Layton spoke to convention on its closing day. “This is not the time to retreat from public services, this is the time for public services,” he told appreciative delegates.

Delegates will vote on the revised strategic directions document and deal with some resolutions before convention adjourns.

Pledging to ‘always stand behind public sector workers’ NDP Leader Jack Layton used his speech to the 2009 CUPE convention to make the case for more public services as a means to fight the recession.

You can already hear the drumbeats from the right wingers and the bank economists,” said Layton. “They’re saying we’ve got this huge debt, and that there are going to have to be cuts.”

We’ve heard this story before. When you cut public services you leave families who need help in the cold and you damage the economy. This is not the time to retreat from public services; this is the time for public services.”

In addition to building strong public services, Layton called for better protection for pensions and other payments owed to employees when big companies go bankrupt. Touting an NDP motion passed unanimously by Parliament, Layton called for a self financing pension insurance plan that would protect pension plans and said severance pay, back wages and pension contributions should be the first things paid back when private companies get into financial trouble.

The NDP leader also touted his party’s role in getting improvements to the Employment Insurance program.

We managed to get $1 billion out of a reluctant government which is going to families across the country. But it’s not enough; we’ve got much more to do.”