Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

March 23, 2009 13:12 ET

Economic Crisis Calls for Historic Summit of Business, Labour and Government, Says OPSEU President

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 23, 2009) - In the face of the worse economic crisis to hit Ontario in living memory, the largest public sector union of provincial employees is calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to convene an Economic Summit of business, labour and government leaders.

"The current economic and social crisis facing Ontario demands nothing less than a bold move to produce workable solutions," Ontario Public Service Employees Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas, told a Queens Park news conference today.

"We propose that the premier call a summit meeting of government, business and labour whose task would be to work as a team to draft a plan for 21st century prosperity in Ontario," said Thomas, adding that he believed this would be the first summit meeting of its kind in provincial history.

"The only pre-condition would be our collective willingness to produce measurable results for the people of Ontario. Let's pledge to leave the summit with something akin to a 10-point plan for economic recovery."

Thomas said this week's Budget presents the Premier with the ideal opportunity to announce plans for an Economic Summit.

Thomas told the news conference that as the Great Recession takes its toll on tens of thousands of workers in the private sector this is not the time to slash provincial programs that would trigger layoffs in the public sector.

"A public sector pay cheque finds its way into shops and services the keep the economies of local communities alive. Keeping dollars circulating in a local economy is how you fight a recession," he said.

"Let's be clear: when working people do well, business does well."

Thomas said OPSEU is particularly concerned that community college re-training programs that provide skills-development and hope to unemployed private sector workers are not being sufficiently funded to meet the crisis. He called this a "grave mistake that only weakens our economic competitiveness and social infrastructure."

He also said the economic downturn is taking its toll on working families.

"OPSEU will never accept a condition whereby we trim social assistance programs in the name of managing a deficit. As demands on these programs grow - as they always do in a recession - we must have the means available to meet the steep challenges ahead."

The OPSEU news conference at Queens Park was one of 12 organized by the union across every region of Ontario today.

Contact Information

  • OPSEU Media Relations
    Greg Hamara
    1-800-268-7376 ext 8777 or (647) 238-9933 cell