One year into the McGuinty government and election vows are shattering as we speak. Last Saturday, November 27, the Ontario Federation of Labour brought hundreds of reasons to rally at Queen's Park. The message - the unresponsive Libs are treading on dangerous ground.
Julie Gordon , anti-poverty activist from Hamilton
The beef: Welfare Rates
"The McGuinty government was supposed to give people on welfare a significant raise and return the child benefit clawback, and it hasn't done that. I'm on social assistance and want to be able to provide for my daughter. She doesn't want to be degraded because we're a welfare family."
Bette White , Ontario Disability Support Program recipient from Hamilton
The beef: ODSP
"People on ODSP, especially if you're on it permanently, are only allowed to make so much before the government starts to cut back your benefits. Right now, a single person on disability can only earn up to $150 a month. How are we going to get ahead?"
Roy Brady, retired school teacher and board member of the Ontario Health Coalition
The beef: privatization of hospital services
"The public health care system in Ontario is under attack. What most concerns us is the privatization of hospitals. It's happening in Brampton and Ottawa, and apparently there are about eight others scheduled to go. These are decisions the public should be making. They're forcing other hospitals to cut their deficits, but some of these deficits cannot be avoided. They've also talked about establishing community health clinics, but we've been waiting a year for them to move on that."
David Carrington , energy adviser with Toronto Hydro
The beef: Hydro privatization
"The government has signalled that it's prepared to privatize electricity services. Private interests tend to take money out the system, not invest in it. We've seen it with Enron, and we've seen through the blackout how interdependent we all are on electricity. When prices start to rise in the interests of profits, eventually working people like ourselves will not be able to afford it."
Roseann Clarke , secretary at North York General Hospital
The beef: threatened salary cuts for health care workers
"We're experiencing heavier workloads. Patients are waiting longer in emergency departments. Now the government wants to interfere with our contracts and do what the Liberals did in BC and halve the wages of hospital workers. The government needs to remember SARS. Going into work we were terrified, but we went anyway. People put their lives on the line."
Dallas Takeuchi , drinking-water lab inspector with the Ministry of the Environment
The beef: the monitoring of water quality
"Labs that are supposed to report drinking-water data to the ministry can't because the computer system goes down a lot. The database is in a mess, and they keep paying computer consultants more and more money to develop programs that don't work. There are still a lot of labs using inappropriate methods and reporting inappropriate data to the ministry as well as using inappropriate equipment to do water testing."
Terry Downey , investigator with the Ontario Human Rights Commission
The beef: cuts to the broader public service and the OHRC
"A great many services in the broader public service that have been suffering because of downloading and privatization aren't being rebuilt. From the Ontario Human Rights Commission the Liberal government has cut half the staff (from eight to four) who provide intake services, which is something even the Tory government didn't do. The Human Rights Code is supposed to ensure the rights of every citizen. It should be enforced in a way that is meaningful."
Eugene James , phys ed teacher at Brookhaven Public school
The beef: cuts to physical education
"I know that in schools I've taught in the first thing to go was physical education whenever there were funding cuts. That continues today. I think it's important that kids get physical education for 20 minutes every day. It benefits kids. It bands them together. They learn to appreciate one another's differences."
Sonia Ellis , special ed teacher and union officer with Elementary Teachers of Toronto
The beef: class sizes
"The government has talked about maintaining class sizes for primary grades, but we've still got junior classes with as many as 36 students. I want to trust that this government will come through on its promises. But you can't sit on the side and believe politicians are going to do everything they promise. That's naive. That's why I'm here - to remind them."
David Greig , water and sewage department employee with the city of Toronto
The beef: the Liberals' Tory-inspired agenda
"McGuinty created the impression during the election that he was going to reverse what Harris and Eves had done. Of course none of that has happened. There's been a continuation of the agenda of cutbacks. But why should it surprise anybody? The federal Liberal government has been at the forefront of the neo-liberal agenda, so why should we be surprised if a Liberal government in Ontario heads the same way? Look at what Liberals do in British Columbia."