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Rally in Orillia shines light on public services 'under attack'

'This type of solidarity action is what sends the message,' union official says during Enough is Enough demonstration at MPP's office

About 75 people showed up at Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop’s Orillia office Saturday to take part in the Enough is Enough rally.

The demonstration was organized by the North Simcoe Muskoka and District Labour Council as part of the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Enough is Enough campaign.

Mike De Rose, president of the local labour council, says the campaign seeks to make life more affordable for “regular working folk” through increased and fair wages. It also focuses on affordable housing, rent control, and the cost of gas, groceries and other essentials.

“We also want to ensure that the big corporations and big banks are paying their fair share in taxes,” he said.

De Rose says Dunlop’s office on West Street South was chosen for the rally because he believes Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative government hasn’t been kind to workers.

“We have not seen real wage increases,” De Rose said. “We’ve seen privatization in our health care, we’ve seen gross funding in both public health care and education, and the government continues to make decisions that benefit their developer buddies but don’t actually make life easier, better or affordable for regular people.”

He hopes people who attended the protest have become informed and empowered.

“Their voice matters,” he said. “We want them to hold their government to account by continuing to communicate with them through conversations, letters to their MPP, or other levels of government.”

Kelly Martin, president of Ontario Public Service Employees Union Local 330, attended the demonstration.

“This type of solidarity action is what sends the message,” she said.

Public services, health care, and education are “under attack” from the Ford government, she says.

“We’ve got no staff in our schools,” she said. “Those that think their children are being educated the way they deserve to be educated in this province — it’s not happening.”

Martin says the Ford government talks a big game when it comes to equity and mental health, but there is not enough funding for those issues.

“We need to educate the public,” she said. “We need to stop Doug Ford and his government from privatizing all of the services that Ontario people deserve.”

Madeleine Fournier, of Green Orillia, is upset with the government for its plan to cut into Ontario’s Greenbelt to allow for development.

She says the Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force, an expert government panel, concluded in February a shortage of land is not the cause of the problem of the housing crisis.

“The province has enough land to build more than two million homes by 2031 without developing the Greenbelt or altering city boundaries,” she said, adding at least nine of the 15 properties Ford is proposing to cut from the Greenbelt were purchased by developers since he’s been in office, for a total of $300 million.

“Greenbelt cuts are nothing but a ploy for Ford to reward speculation and help his developer buddies get richer faster,” she said.

More information about the Enough is Enough campaign and a list of upcoming events can be found here

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Tyler Evans

About the Author: Tyler Evans

Tyler Evans got his start in the news business when he was just 15-years-old and now serves as a video producer and reporter with OrilliaMatters
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