Roughly 700 delegates from across Ontario met at the Unifor Family Education Centre on April 25 and 26 for the second Ontario Regional Council. Delegates participated in lively debates about our union and upcoming issues to be faced by workers in Ontario, including a spring election and municipal elections in the fall.
On Friday morning, delegates were energized by a passionate speech from Dr. Danielle Martin, one of the founders of Canadian Doctors for Medicare. Delegates lined up at the microphones to share their stories about the importance of our public health care system, and the impacts that recent cuts have had not only on our communities, but the quality of the work environment for health care workers.
Delegates voted unanimously in favour of donating $25,000 to Canadian Doctors for Medicare to support them in an upcoming court case threatening our public health care system.
In advance of the day of mourning ceremony, delegates heard from Health and Safety Director Sari Sairanen about the anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh. Following the ceremony, delegates spoke of the importance of health and safety training and legislation as well as the role that unions play in ensuring safer workplaces.
On Saturday morning National President Jerry Dias delivered an impassioned speech about the (un)Fair elections act, the exploitative temporary foreign worker program, and the many upcoming elections in Ontario.
“We’re starting to change the tide, and we’re doing it by working collectively,” said Dias. “Unifor was born to challenge the status quo and improve the lives of all Canadians.”
Delegates also heard from two candidates running for leadership positions at the upcoming Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) convention. Marie Clarke Walker, running for re-election as an Executive VP, emphasized the importance of working class politics and ensuring that the CLC is reflective of the diversity of our movement.
Delegates then heard from Hassan Yussuff, currently the Secretary-Treasurer of the CLC and candidate for president in the upcoming election, who has received the unanimous endorsement of Unifor’s National Executive Board. “The diversity of this country is the strength of the labour movement,” said Yussuff. “We need to harness this at the CLC.”
Following Yussuff’s speech, Ontario Regional Council delegates voted unanimously to endorse him in his run for President of the CLC.
There was also a panel on good jobs as well as a speech from Wayne Gates, president of Unifor Local 199 and current NDP MPP for Niagara Falls. Delegates voted in favour of recommendations on upcoming provincial and municipal elections; the Unifor Good Jobs Summit; supporting the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Ontario; collective bargaining support; Unifor’s rail campaign; National Day of Mourning; and the Unifor Rights at Work campaign.
Ontario Region Directors Recommendations:
Executive Meeting Minutes