TORONTO, March 14, 2020 /CNW/ - OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is commending Premier Doug Ford for his words and actions on Friday to fight COVID-19.
"I have in the past and unless there is a shift in direction, likely will have future differences with this government on most issues," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "But I always give praise where praise is due, and yesterday the Premier spoke and acted like a leader. He put aside partisan politics, stepped up to the plate and worked with political leaders of all stripes to find ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Following a conference call with provincial and territorial Premiers and the Prime Minister, Ford said it was imperative that workers who self-isolate be supported, particularly those who don't have the luxury of working from home. He added the province would "spare no expense" to support families during this difficult time. The collaborative and reassuring tone struck by the Premier, Opposition leader Andrea Horwath and Prime Minister Trudeau was music to the ears of Ontarians and indeed an entire nation. It's what politics can aspire to be.
Leading an effort to combat community spread, OPSEU was among the first large organizations in Ontario to close its offices and allow staff to work from home to serve its members. The Ontario government followed suit by announcing similar measures for its direct workforce.
"I'm very pleased the Premier has put aside politics because now is not the time for that," Thomas added. We're all in this together, and the only way we're going to fight COVID-19 is to work together. The government announcement regarding its own staff is an example for all employers during these troubled times. We are especially calling on our partners in the Broader Public Sector and Colleges and Universities to follow suit immediately."
Thomas and other health care labour leaders have called on the provincial government to ensure health care workers have the full protective equipment they need when caring for patients with COVID-19. But they also need time and space to fight a potential crisis in capacity.
"With SARS, we learned our lesson the hard way," Thomas said. "We have to do absolutely everything humanly possible to protect our health care heroes, lessen their burden, and allow them to carry out their lifesaving work. This is job one for this government. This is job one for our union.
If we continue to collaborate in this way, we will prevail."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931