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TorontoIn addition to abandoning its commitment to public housing the Ontario government is also abandoning thousands of workers, who will be left without rights and protections if legislation handing over full control of social housing to municipalities isnt amended, says Brian OKeefe the secretary-treasurer of the Ontario Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

CUPE represents thousands of workers delivering social housing programs across the province. And about 1,200 members work directly for Ontario Housing yet, the union was not allowed standing at the public hearings on Bill 128, held by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

In the City of Toronto, CUPE Local 416 represents nearly 500 members who work for the Metro Toronto Housing Authority (MTHA). These jobs are now on the line. Yet Local 416 was excluded from the hearings. Its appalling that these workers are being denied the voice of their union at hearings that will weigh heavily on their future job security.

It is also evident that with only two days of hearings, this governments intention is to shut out many different groups that have a stake in maintaining a stable social housing program, says OKeefe.

Under Bill 128, the new employer can change the terms and conditions of employment at will. As of January 2, workers are out there in no mans land with no protection, says OKeefe.

He also points out that municipalities are being short-changed on funding. While the province has calculated the cost of social housing at $900 million, this takes no account of the fact that 80 per cent of the housing stock is over 20-years old. Capital costs and repairs for Ontario Housing alone are estimated at over $500 million.

The key issue here is not which level of government administers social housing but whether adequate government dollars are going into it. And in recent years, senior levels of government have an abysmal record on funding.

Essentially through lack of adequate funding, governments have been pushing this service into the private sector. Already the building and grounds maintenance for 10,000 units at MTHA has already been privatized. What this means is a further deterioration of the public housing stock in Ontario, says OKeefe.


For more information please contact:
Brian OKeefe, CUPE Ontario, Secretary-Treasurer
(416) 579-7414
Stella Yeadon, CUPE Communications
(416) 578-8774