CST: 25/10/2016 21:18:03   

North Bay suffering because of Liberal austerity agenda: CUPE Ontario president

317 Days ago

NORTH BAY, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec 12, 2015) - From hospital service cuts to workers locked out at Ontario Northland, skyrocketing hydro rates and a loss of good manufacturing jobs, North Bay is feeling the full force of the Liberal government's austerity agenda, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn told the Unity for Our Community rally today in North Bay.

"You can't cut your way to prosperity," said Hahn, president of Ontario's largest union. "Cuts to public services are devastating to communities. North Bay is witnessing this first-hand with huge service cuts and mass layoffs at the hospital. But Kathleen Wynne's unflinching support for austerity and privatization is hurting every corner of the community."

Skyrocketing hydro rates are making Ontario less attractive to manufacturers, making it harder to replace the good jobs being lost at Bombardier or Ontario Northland, he said.

"Hydro rates started going up after Mike Harris and the Conservatives started privatizing generation, and they shot up with the Liberals' private energy deals, like the sole-source Samsung contract for wind," he said. "This will get much worse with the sale of Hydro One to private interests. We'll also lose the oversight of public accountability officers like the Auditor General."

Hahn was speaking to a crowd of North Bay residents calling on Queen's Park to take action to stop the loss of good jobs and quality public services in their community.

The rally organized by the North Bay and District Labour Council, began at the Ontario Northland building, then made its way to City Hall. Speakers included Canadian Labour Congress President Hassan Yussuff, new Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley, NDP MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay), NDP MPP John Vanthof (Temiskaming-Cochrane) and Sharon Richer, vice-president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

"It's Kathleen Wynne listened to Ontarians. Almost 85 percent of the public and 194 municipalities oppose the Hydro One sell-off," said Hahn. "The Liberals need to listen to the people, not to Bay Street. We need quality public services and good jobs in our communities. We need at-cost, not-for-profit electricity. We need profitable corporations to pay their fair share so working-class people don't pay any more for disastrous Liberal austerity and privatization schemes."

CUPE is Ontario's community union, with more than 250,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications