Workers celebrate May Day; demand change ahead of provincial elections

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Workers, students, activists and labor leaders gathered in Charles Clark Square on Sunday, demanding improvements to public education, workers’ rights, health care and long-term care and calling on others to joining their cause, calling it “a fight for a better Ontario.”

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Mario Spagnuolo, acting president of the Windsor and District Labor Council, said the Windsor rally was one of 21 International Workers’ Day rallies across Ontario organized by the Ontario Federation of Labor. Ontario on a day recognized for “the labor movement, the struggle of a worker, a call for social justice.

“And this year, I would say, is an even more critical year to celebrate working people and highlight the sacrifices of ordinary people,” Spagnuolo said. “Today we want to remind the community that we must fight for a better Ontario.

About 100 people gathered to hear speakers call for an Ontario “Workers First” program ahead of the upcoming June 2 provincial election.

An Aboriginal welcome, drums and poetry were interspersed with speeches from union leaders, university students and community members.

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Local workers and civil society activists hold a rally titled 'Fight for a Better Ontario' at Charles Clark Square, one of twenty-one rallies across Ontario, on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
Local workers and civil society activists hold a rally titled ‘Fight for a Better Ontario’ at Charles Clark Square, one of twenty-one rallies across Ontario, on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Spagnuolo said mobilizing the labor movement ensures that “those who can bring about change don’t forget the little people – people on the front lines, service workers, front line health workers, farmers, men and women in our factories, those who have kept society going in the midst of the global pandemic.

MPP Lisa Gretzky (NDP – Windsor West), who attended the rally, said May Day is a celebration of the “gains that workers have made over the years and to recognize that there is still work to be done. to do “.

“And it’s not just about talking about workers and celebrating workers, but also about some of the most marginalized people in our community and the province.”

“We’ve known for years, through successive governments, that there have been problems with our health care system, with our long-term care, with home care and so much more,” Gretzky said. “But really, the pandemic has kind of laid bare what those issues are.

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“And so today is also a rallying cry for all of our connected health systems and the workers who are part of them to say, look, we have to make investments.

“When we invest in health care, we invest in workers,” she added. “This benefits community members who depend on these services. »

Local workers and civil society activists hold a rally titled 'Fight for a Better Ontario' at Charles Clark Square, one of twenty-one rallies across Ontario, on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
Local workers and civil society activists hold a rally titled ‘Fight for a Better Ontario’ at Charles Clark Square, one of twenty-one rallies across Ontario, on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Gagneet Kaur, a student at the University of Windsor who also works on the ground for the Canadian Federation of Students, said post-secondary education is increasingly inaccessible due to lack of government support and the increase in tuition fees. “Recent graduates are graduating with record debt,” Kaur said. “It forces students to give up on their dreams of owning homes, starting businesses and even starting families of their own.

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“Post-secondary students like us are the future of Ontario and the future has never looked bleaker,” she said.

Ontario Federation of Labor President Patty Coates told a crowd at Queens Park in Toronto on Sunday that unions are “moving our vision for the Ontario we need and mobilizing to win it.”

“In the run-up to the provincial election, we’re making sure workers’ issues are on the table,” Coates said in a statement. “We need better in this province.

“That means a $20 minimum wage, decent work, affordable housing, permanent paid sick leave, well-funded public services, decent income support for all, climate justice, status for all, and an end racism and oppression.”

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