TIMMINS, Ont. – In a shocking attack on freedom of speech, Timmins municipal councillors voted 6 to 1 last night to refuse to hear a deputation from Local 2196 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing striking Timmins and district child and family services workers.
“I am quite shocked that this could happen in a modern municipality in this province,” said CUPE Ontario Division president Sid Ryan. “These workers were duly registered on council’s agenda for Monday evening and the local elected representatives of the people of Timmins voted to remove them from the agenda, and refused to hear their presentation – I don’t know what planet the politicians of Timmins are from, but I can tell you this is unheard of.”
“We just wanted a chance to tell our elected representatives what’s happening in our strike and how our fight to control workloads is a fight to protect child services in our community,” said CUPE 2196 spokesperson Kim Cress. “We think it’s important that our voice be heard and that local politicians do what they can to see this crisis resolved.”
“I can tell you CUPE and other unions across Ontario have been making deputations to municipal councils for decades, including communities like Sudbury, North Bay, Thessalon, Ottawa, and countless other cities across the province,” said Ryan. “For this council to say it hasn’t heard of the practice and to try and shut down democracy is a travesty – the people of Timmins should be furious.”
CUPE has also learned some councillors are proposing a procedural changes to prevent future deputations.
“Before Timmins politicians shut the door on freedom of speech and democracy, they had better think twice,” said Ryan. “CUPE Ontario and our local unions and councils, as well as other unions, will not want to hold conferences or meetings in a town that doesn’t welcome our voice – I can promise there will be repercussions if council continues to refuse to hear from labour groups, or any other group of citizens.”
“I can tell them one thing,” added Ryan. “The voice of CUPE members in Timmins will be heard, one way or the other.”
For further information, please contact:
Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario President - 416-209-0066
Kim Cress, CUPE 2196 Spokesperson - 705-465-2543
Fran Ludwick, CUPE National Representative, Timmins Office - 705-264-1269
Robert Lamoureux, CUPE Communications - 416-292-3999