Ford Government Leaves Out Transit Workers and Riders Once Again in Throne Speech

Yesterday, the Ford government gave its annual throne speech to outline its priorities for the coming year. Transit workers and transit riders were predictably all but left out of the speech.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, ATU Canada, our allies as well as many of Ontario’s mayors have been demanding that the provincial government provide emergency operational funding to make up for the shortfall as a result of lost fares. Governments did come to an agreement last year and put forward the Safe Restart Agreement that led to over $2 billion in emergency operational funding across the country. This funding, however, has run out and clearly, the provincial government has no concrete plans to do what is needed to save Ontario’s transit systems from a downward spiral.

Millions of workers including doctors, nurses, LTC workers, food production, transport and retail staff, seniors, low-income populations, people with disabilities, and newcomers need access to reliable and affordable transit to get to work and access services. Not receiving this operational funding means that essential services, including paratransit for seniors and people with disabilities, may be interrupted; this will harm the health and quality of life of our most vulnerable citizens.

The Throne Speech made several references to economic recovery and “protecting Ontario’s progress” but made very little mention of how we are going to do that. The fact remains that the best way to defeat this terrible pandemic is to empower workers through measures like improved transit funding, government-legislated paid sick days, significantly higher wages and making vaccines and other COVID-19 protections more accessible to low-income people and low-wage workers.

ATU Canada will continue to fight for these and other protections for transit workers, transit riders and those across Ontario and the rest of the country.

John Di Nino, President

ATU Canada