The power of activism was a recurring theme on the first day of the Ontario Regional Council. Nearly 800 delegates from across the province gathered in Toronto to celebrate the union’s victories, examine challenges faced by members, and build a plan of action for Ontario for the coming year.
Ontario Regional Director Naureen Rizvi credited member activism for gains on the political front, including the passing of the province’s new labour legislation, Bill 148, which includes a commitment to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, to pay part-time and temporary workers the same as full-time workers, provide paid domestic leave, and to increase vacation time.
“2017 has marked a year of unparalleled victories for us in Ontario,” said Rizvi. “Every minute of activism counted, every voice counted, and you absolutely made the difference for millions of workers.”
Rizvi also warned the gains of the past year could all be taken away in the upcoming provincial election, as she outlined Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown’s prior voting record as an MP.
“Brown voted to reopen the abortion debate, and also voted to repeal same sex marriage. Sounds like an ultra-conservative voting record to me,” said Rizvi.
A view shared by National President Jerry Dias during his address to delegates.
“We don’t need a rightward shift in our provincial government – not when we’re getting so much done to the benefit of working people,” said Dias. “We can’t elect a former Harper MP as Premier.”
Dias also provided an update on the union’s work on NAFTA renegotiations, sharing his recent experience in Mexico where he visited a picket line where striking mine workers were shot dead. Immediately following his speech Dias led hundreds of flag waving members in a protest march to the offices of Torex Gold Resources, the Canadian owners of the mine.
“You are a Canadian company, please behave like a Canadian,” Dias said on a loudspeaker outside the mining company’s headquarters.
In the afternoon session, Steve Tizzard of Local 212 from Newfoundland presented on mental wellness in the workplace, urging delegates to be watchful for indicators that coworkers may need assistance while providing tips on non-judgmental listening. Delegates also heard a panel discussion on the impact of the upcoming legalization of cannabis.
Council will continue on Saturday with a full agenda that will include an examination of the achievements and difficulties experienced in key sectors.
To view a photo gallery of Ontario Regional Council visit Facebook.com/UniforCanada