Ontario government's heavy-handed austerity agenda loudly rejected by voters

RICHMOND HILL, ON, Sept. 7, 2012 /CNW/ - Voters in Kitchener-Waterloo sent a strong message in last night's by-election that the Ontario government should return to its former constructive approach of working with its partners to find solutions to managing costs in the broader public sector, particularly in education and healthcare.

NDP candidate Catherine Fife won the Southern Ontario riding of Kitchener-Waterloo Thursday evening, mainly the result of opposition to the Liberal government's heavy-handed approach of trying to scapegoat frontline staff like teachers and healthcare workers and suspending their collective bargaining rights.

"The politics of confrontation have clearly not worked out for this government," said Sharleen Stewart, President of Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada (SEIU), representing more than 50,000 healthcare workers in Ontario.  "The Ontario government needs to return to a path of constructive dialogue with its partners aimed at finding solutions, especially in healthcare."

In Vaughan, meanwhile, Liberal candidate Steven Del Duca was declared the winner of the riding's by-election.  Del Duca, director of public affairs for the Carpenters District Council of Ontario and past chair of the Vaughan Healthcare Foundation, has been a tireless advocate for local community health services and a new hospital for Vaughan.

SEIU members were out in force in the Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan ridings on Thursday, knocking on doors to get out the vote and encourage people to elect the candidate they thought best equipped to constructively manage public services like education and healthcare.

"In sectors like education and healthcare, real savings will come not from political saber-rattling, but from finding creative solutions - like shifting care to the community or fully utilizing allied professions like registered practical nurses (RPNs)," said Stewart.

Stewart added that the by-election results underscored that playing politics with the lives of school children and patients, and the people who care for and serve them, is not the way Ontarians want to be governed.

Nonetheless, Premier McGuinty said his Liberal government would not back down from its contentious legislation that would impose contracts on teachers and school boards. He also announced plans to introduce additional legislation targeting the broader public sector this fall, despite legal opinions that these bills would be struck down by the courts after costly legal battles, because they violate the right to free association protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Apparently the Premier has yet to get the public's message.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1 Canada represents more than 50,000 healthcare and community services workers in Ontario.  SEIU members work in hospitals, home care, nursing and retirement homes and community services throughout the province. SEIU Local 1 Canada has a strong track record of improving wages, benefits and working conditions for healthcare workers, as well as strengthening standards in patient and client care.

SOURCE: Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada

For further information:

Sagal Ali
SEIU Local 1 Canada
125 Mural Street, Suite 202
Richmond Hill, Ontario
(905)  695-1767 ext 3079
Telephone (905) 695-1767, ext. 3079
Cell: 416 347 4906

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