TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 3, 2012) - Just days before the Canadian workers celebrated their proud labour history, Ontario's labour movement and more than 90 community groups and non-profit organizations released an unprecedented report that reverberated through the media from one end of the country to the other. The report, called "Falling Behind," documented the devastating effects of government cuts to jobs and public services and exposed Ontario's shameful new standing as dead last in equality and social welfare.
Examining the wage gap, hours of work, hospital beds, tuition fees, poverty rates, support for seniors, access to affordable housing, disability support, and many other indicators, the report found that by every count, Ontario has plummeted to the bottom when compared to the other nine provinces. And it is continuing to fall further.
Among the most shocking revelations of the report was Ontario's incredible backslide in income inequality and its rapid increase in poverty rates. This negative trend has left nearly 400,000 Ontario children living in poverty while fully 40 percent of all Ontarians struggle to get by with incomes that have stagnated or declined for over a decade.
"Ontario's growing income inequality is an indictment of policy-making at three levels of government that has transformed many good, middle-class jobs into lower-wage and precarious ones. Social program cuts have compounded the problem and left the most vulnerable without a social safety net," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "Ontarians deserve good jobs and strong public services instead of corporate tax cuts that have allowed bankers and CEOs to stockpile half a trillion dollars in surplus profits."
Perhaps even more newsworthy than the findings of the report is the incredible alliance of civil society organizations - representing people in every corner of the province and from every walk of life - that came together to produce it. Calling themselves the Ontario Common Front, this vast coalition formed earlier this year to challenge deep provincial budget cuts and has continued to gain momentum.
"Adversity has reminded millions of Ontarians that we can't succeed unless everyone succeeds. The principal message for unionized workers to reflect on this Labour Day isn't just what we have accomplished on our own, but what we can achieve when we work together with non-unionized workers, students, seniors, and every one of Ontario's diverse communities to challenge income inequality," said Ryan. "Cuts to jobs and services affect every Ontarian and when we all respond together, there is no way for governments to ignore us. After all, WE are Ontario."
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For more information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.