Media advisory - Liberals low wage strategy hurting war on poverty; CUPE Ontario proposes three policy shifts for poverty reduction

    TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Union of Public Employees
(CUPE) Ontario is proposing three new policy shifts that the government must
make if it is serious about its poverty reduction strategy, in a deputation to
be given today at 2:00 pm at the province's pre-budget consultations. These
shifts include an end to low wage policies, an end to user fees and taxes for
low-income people, and creative agreements with the public sector to address
issues such as kids at risk and affordable housing, according to CUPE Ontario
President Sid Ryan.
    "The government can't be calling for reductions in poverty and on the
other hand be promoting low wage policies," says Ryan. "Given that a union job
is the number one poverty fighter, this government needs to restore card-check
based certification to make it easier for workers to join a union. " Ryan
cites the province's home care competitive bidding policy as another low wage
policy. Along with forcing frequent job changes, average wages for home care
workers are approximately $12 an hour with little or no benefits, about $6 an
hour less than what they would earn in a hospital.
    The second policy shift proposed by CUPE Ontario would end all public
sector user fees and taxes for families under the low-income cut off.
"Families need free access to things like public transit to get to school and
jobs, medical services such as eye, dental and drug programs, free day care
and access to early education opportunities in order to have a chance to break
the cycle of poverty," says Ryan.
    CUPE Ontario's third proposed policy shift is to open up the public
sector in various tri-partite agreements to address aspects of poverty like
job training and mentorship for young people at risk. As an example, Ryan
cites the agreement between CUPE, the Saskatchewan Association of Health
Organizations and the Saskatchewan government that has increased Aboriginal
representation in the health care workforce from 1% to 5% in four years.
    Such agreements could also offer a potential solution for investment in
affordable housing like co-ops. "CUPE Ontario has long fought against the
investment of workers' pension funds in privatization and P3 schemes," says
Ryan. "Instead of investing our pension funds in bad public and financial
policies, we invite the government to work with us to fund public
infrastructure like housing for low-income Ontarians."
    CUPE Ontario is challenging every provincial ministry to review its
policies and develop plans that will support a decent standard of living for
workers and bring down all barriers to services needed services by low income
and welfare recipients.

         What:  Sid Ryan Deputation to Standing Committee on
                Finance & Economic Affairs

         When:  Monday January 28, 2:00 pm,

         Where: Committee Room 151, Queen's Park

For further information:

For further information: Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647)
225-3685; Sid Ryan, CUPE Ontario President, (416) 209-0066

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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