TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 01/26/13 -- Over 25,000 protesters descended on Maple Leaf Gardens this afternoon as Liberal Party delegates prepared to elect the next Premier of Ontario. Coming from every corner of the province and every walk of life, the protest marked the largest opposition the party has faced since forming government in 2003.
"We are here to tell the new Premier of Ontario that you cannot lead this province unless fairness, equality and workers' rights are central to your economic strategy," said OFL President Sid Ryan to a thronging crowd at Toronto's Allan Gardens. "Today's rally is a testament to the Liberal's largest opposition - the people of Ontario."
In total, 131 buses traveled from every corner of the province to join thousands of protesters who arrived at the rally in droves by foot, transit and car. More than 100 community groups and labour unions converged outside the Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention to protest cut to social programs and the cancellation of workers' rights.
"Austerity hasn't worked! By attacking good jobs and social programs, the Liberals have played right into the interests of a corporate sector that helped to create Ontario's deficit in the first place," said Ryan. "Banks and corporations are siphoning billions in tax breaks from the Ontario treasury while the rest of us are being left behind."
A report released last fall by 90 community and labour groups showed that Ontario is leading the race to the bottom. Poverty rates in Ontario are rising faster than the rest of the country and social program funding lags shamefully behind the other ten provinces. As a result, the incomes of 40 percent of Ontario's families have stagnated or fallen over the last ten years while one in seven children live in poverty.
"We are demanding a new path for Ontario that includes an industrial strategy rooted in job creation, respect for workers' rights and a balanced approach to balancing the budget. Struggling Ontarians need a raise in social assistance rates and everyone deserves a living wage," said Ryan. "Sooner or later, the new Premier will have to seek election from the people of Ontario. So, today we are delivering their wake-up call."
Visit the OFL website for more information and click here to follow the rally on Twitter.
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour and follow OFL President Sid Ryan at @SidRyan_OFL.