Defeating Drummond's Dreadful Directions
Former Toronto Dominion Bank economist, Don Drummond, has now handed over his report to the McGuinty government. As we might have expected it is a call to arms for the advocates of austerity. It suggests cuts to social services that would make Harris’s Tory government look like social reformers. Harris cut the Provincial Budget by less than 4% during one term of office while Drummond wants a 17% reduction kept up for a decade and a half. Among other drastic recommendations it calls for limiting annual spending growth for social assistance to 0.5% until 2018, despite the fact that those living on social assistance are still suffering from the 21.6% cuts to assistance from the Harris years, which the Liberals have only made worse. Nowadays a person living on welfare in Ontario is making 55% less than they did in the early 90s, when the rates were already far below the poverty line. Also in Drummond’s cross-hairs are ODSP and the Child Tax Benefit.
Through all the rhetoric of "overspending" it is important to remember that this economic crisis was not caused by us. After all, it is noteworthy that the budget was balanced before the crisis of 2008-09. It was not caused by welfare recipients, it was not caused by organized labour and it was not caused by public services. We are living through a financial crisis that was caused by the rich, and while the banks are getting bailed out we are being bled dry to pay for their greed.
The Drummond report is a roadmap to austerity and if it is not swiftly defeated its legacy will haunt us for decades to come. At the same time it is important not to stay fixated on the Drummond report. We know that the Liberals have been planning to implement cut-back measures long before this report came out. It is imperative that we keep a close eye on the upcoming budget and root out every attack directed against us in the name of austerity.
The time is crucial for us to coordinate our efforts and organize ourselves as effectively as possible to mount a serious fightback.
Overview of the days of action
This is not the first time radical groups, community groups and labour unions have been called to fight together. In the mid to late 1990s in response to the drastic cuts to social services and attacks on workers put forth by the Harris government these groups had to band together to mount opposition. What started as small protests against the PC government soon swelled to one of the largest mobilization periods in Ontario’s history, with hundreds of thousands of people joining in the fight. Unfortunately this mobilization, though ground-breaking in many ways, was not enough to defeat the Tories and they were not forced to retreat. As powerful as the Days of Action were, the present struggle against austerity will need to learn from past shortcomings as well as strengths. Unlike the mobilization against Harris, the struggles we take up to-day will need to escalate to the point where those implementing austerity face a level of economic and political disruption that creates for them a social, economic and political catastrophe. We can’t stop at moral appeals but must force Bay Street and its political representatives at Queen’s Park to retreat through decisive mass mobilization
The Common Sense Revolution cuts were pushed through and we are living with its legacy today. In real terms people living on social assistance today have less spending power than they did during the height of the Harris-era cuts. Capitalism has re-doubled its attacks on organized labour and vital public services are being cut and threatened daily. If we fail again this time around, however, the results will be far more devastating.
Proposal for a plan to move forward
We in OCAP believe that the only way we can truly defeat the current wave of austerity measures is to build a movement that is willing and committed to pushing back in meaningful ways. Symbolic rallies and editorials will only get us so far, and social assistance reviews are not going to help us push back against austerity. It has even been admitted by Lankin that a raise in social assistance rates is not even on the table. Rather, to beat this beast we have to put forward a plan of resistance that is going to disrupt every stage of their agenda, we have to be willing to confront these politicians and decision makers head on at every single chance we can take.
On March 16th OCAP, with a wide array of community groups and labour groups will be marching from the ministry of housing down to the financial district. In a show of unity we will be marching together against the austerity measures of the liberal provincial government, we will be demanding a raise in OW and ODSP rates, as well as quality public services. But marches alone are not going to win this battle. Other community groups have to be willing to take up the fight in meaningful ways, unions have to be willing to strike against this government, and everyone has to be committed to taking this to its logical conclusion! We are calling on all our allies, all labour unions, all activists, all community organizations to help us defeat this government and the austerity measures it represents. Together we can fight to win!
On March 16 FIGHT POVERTY AND DEMAND: A LIVING INCOME! HOUSING!
QUALITY PUBLIC SERVICES FOR ALL!
-Solidarity Against Austerity-
Friday, March 16, 2012
Rally and March
Meet at College St and Bay St, Toronto (Outside the Ministry of Housing)