By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Not even the supportive honking of horns could drown out the protesters gathered outside of Durham MPP Lindsey Park’s office.
The protest, held Aug. 16, consisted of representatives of the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, Canadian Labour Congress and more.
Organized by the Durham Region Labour Council. The protest came in the form of a tailgate, which the Ford government recently legalized.
Tiffany Balducci, president of the Durham Region Labour Council, said the protests were to cuts to all public services.
She admitted “all public services” is a blanket statement, but said education and healthcare cuts were the priorities.
“The healthcare system is a crown jewel of Canadian pride, so we want to highlight what’s going on with that, and what [the cuts] look like,” said Balducci.
Balducci explained herself and several of Park’s constituents haven’t been able to schedule meetings with her.
“We’ve had several of her constituents reach out… [they] have reported they’ve tried to schedule several meetings and they were given reasons why she can’t meet,” says Balducci.
Balducci said constituents told her Park wouldn’t with them in regards to education because the school boards and teacher unions are currently bargaining collective agreements.
She believes this isn’t the only issue Park has been avoiding.
“Autoworkers want to meet about [General Motors], but she’s refusing to meet with them on that issue,” she adds.
Park told The Oshawa Express Balducci’s comments are “patently false.”
“I’m proud to be the MPP for Durham and since elected I have met with a large number of my constituents on a very wide range of issues,” says Park. “I have met on numerous occasions with local educators as well as school boards, school board trustees and unions. I have also specifically sent letters to the local school boards inviting meetings and collaboration.”
She also states she’s met with the leadership of GM, Unifor Local 222, and her office is willing to meet with any GM worker who reaches out.
“From the beginning, our government has been all hands on deck with a Rapid Reemployment Training Service through the Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. I continue to be engaged with the Ministry on how to best provide workers with the supports and retraining most appropriate for their circumstance,” says Park.
Balducci wants to be clear the tailgate was about more than just cuts.
“This isn’t only about the labour movement, and the cuts to services that folks in the labour movement provide – it’s beyond that,” Balducci explained. “We’re here with community coalitions of all different backgrounds, and anti-poverty coalitions, Indigenous coalitions, climate justice coalitions, we’re all coming together to fight these cuts and stand up… we’re not going to give up.”
As car horns continued to blare in support, Balducci had said they will continue to pressure the provincial government, even as the Legislature sits till late-October.
“They will have a five-month vacation. We’re not taking a vacation,” said Balducci.