Mass Rally Against Austerity Budget Descends on Queen's Park
April 25, 2012, 12:25 PM EST
More than 15,000 people assembled at Queen's Park on April 21 to protest the proposed Ontario Liberal austerity budget.
The demonstration and march, organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour, saw the convergence of more than 90 community groups, student organizations and trade unions under the banner of "We are Ontario." Nearly 100 buses brought people to the Ontario legislature, some travelling from as far away as Sudbury and Timmins.
Speaker after speaker warned of the impact the budgetary cuts would have on the poor, on Ontario's schools, and Ontario families more generally.
"Legislated wage freezes do not save the government money and have no place in Ontario," said NDP leader Andrea Horwath. "You cannot have collective bargaining unless you sit at the table and actually bargain."
OFL President Sid Ryan said it is "shameful" that the burden of paying down Ontario's deficit will be shouldered by ordinary citizens - many of them getting by on mid-to-low incomes or social assistance. He warned that Premier Dalton McGuinty was losing the support of Ontario workers, many of whom had voted for him and his party in the last election.
CAW President Ken Lewenza railed against cuts to social assistance which would have seen rates frozen for thousands of assistance recipients. On April 23, in a deal reached by the Ontario Liberals and NDP to win support for the budget, social assistance rates were raised by 1 per cent per year, along with a few other changes such as an additional tax on the wealthiest in the province.
For more information on the We Are Ontario campaign, please visit: www.ofl.ca