Robyn Benson, PSAC

Peoples' Social Forum: something for everyone

Well, maybe not the 1%.

On August 21-24, Ottawa will be hosting a meeting of hundreds of different progressive organizations and thousands of participants in a Peoples’ Social Forum. We’ll be taking part in workshops, presentations and panels, attending arts and cultural events, and joining demonstrations and assemblies over the four days.

It’s going to be big and it’s going to be spirited.

It’s a rare opportunity to meet like-minded folks and work towards building a common front against the Harper government, its policies and its deeply damaging actions. Millions of Canadians have been adversely affected by this government: it’s time to push back and reclaim our country.

For PSAC members who are already social justice activists, there’s no place you’d rather be! But the gathering would also be of interest to other members—including those who are always asking, “What does any of this have to do with the union?”

I’m hoping they might be curious enough to come out and ask their tough questions. What they hear might surprise them.

The PSAC is putting on four workshops at the conference:

  • The Face of Public Service Cuts: Impact on Equity and Community Groups
  • The Fight for Public Services, The Fight Against Inequality
  • Showdown with Stephen Harper: Confronting Austerity at the Bargaining Table
  • Rights of Mother Earth

The first one (9 am, Friday August 22 in the Vanier building, Room 1095) will delve into the impacts of public service cutbacks on equity and community groups. We’ll hear from representatives about the human impact of public service cuts on their communities.

I’ll be speaking at the second one, at 10:45 in the same room, along with the national leaders of NUPGE (representing provincial workers) and CUPE (representing municipal workers) about the contribution of public workers to greater equality by improving the lives of marginalized Canadians—the unemployed, the homeless, single parents, recent immigrants, senior citizens, and others. We and our counterparts at the provincial and municipal levels are the “social safety net.” We’re proud of the work we do, and we in the PSAC continue to oppose this government’s endless cuts, which are rapidly diminishing the public services we provide. Cuts and privatization don’t just affect the workers involved. They have a terrible impact upon vulnerable Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

That same afternoon, we’ll discuss our fightback at the bargaining table. We’ll also be taking part in an assembly on the last day, dealing with public services and Harper’s “austerity” agenda.

The Social Forum offers all participants a chance to explore our common vision of the Canada we want, and to develop a deeper understanding of how we can move forward together to make that vision a reality. The work we do in the public service is an essential ingredient, but we can’t fight all by ourselves. Building alliances is just like organizing a union—in our numbers there is strength. And a majority of Canadians have had a bellyful of inequality, social service cutbacks, and environmental devastation.

Had enough of all that yourself? You should go.

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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on August 18, 2014 8:31 AM.

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