I am writing to you today to ask you to vote against two of KPMG’s recommendations to Regional Council at your meeting on Wednesday night.
The two recommendations that are of most concern to the Waterloo Regional Labour Council are 1) to close the Region's five childcare centres and 2) to not renew the contract with Employment Ontario. Both proposals would result in the loss of good-paying union jobs and result in poorer public service. Please take pride in KPMG's overall conclusion that the Region is a well-run organization with no low-hanging fruit for savings or efficiencies, and reject these two recommendations that contradict our community's values.
I was one of over thirty delegations who spoke to you at your public meeting on the recommendations on September 30th (see meeting minutes or video). I'm sure you noted that not one delegation supported KPMG's recommendations. I won't try to repeat the many good arguments you heard that night in this short note, but will highlight key concerns of the Labour Council.
Closing the Region's five childcare centres would result in the loss of over 65 unionized positions with CUPE 1883. Even if the suggestion that 200 new childcare spaces with the same funding was possible, the jobs created would almost certainly be at lower pay, with fewer benefits and pensions. Of course, as with much in life, you get what you pay for. The Region's childcare centres have consistently earned the highest ratings because the Region is able to retain highly qualified, experienced staff. Private or even non-profit childcare centres will not be able to retain such staff and will not be able to deliver the quality of childcare that the Region does.
A similar argument can be made for the Region's Employment Ontario program. Sure, outside agencies can hire people to do the work that the eleven unionized Regional employees do now, but they will not pay the same wages and benefits, and will not be able to deliver the same level of service. By integrating its Employment Ontario programs into its other employment services, the Region is able to serve Ontario Works participants much better than any outside agency can. I think you will find good evidence of this in the staff report for Wednesday's meeting. Further testimonials from people who've used the Region's Employment Ontario services can be found in an article on our website.
We discussed these issues at the monthly meeting of our Labour Council this past week, and I can assure you that our members are united in their opposition to these two recommendations. This is the kind of issue that led us to become active participants in last year's Better Choices Waterloo Region Campaign: we sought to endorse candidates who supported good jobs and good public services, and we will be doing so again in 2018.
Almost a thousand people are receiving a copy of this email. We will be watching how you vote on Wednesday. Please make us proud.
Marc Xuereb, President
Waterloo Regional Labour Council