Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) held its 14th Biennial Convention in Toronto from November 20–24.
OSSTF/FEESO member Patty Coates from District 17, Simcoe, was acclaimed to a second term as OFL Secretary-Treasurer. President Chris Buckley was re-elected for a second term and Executive Vice-President Ahmad Gaied was acclaimed, also for a second term. All three successful candidates had received the endorsement of OSSTF/FEESO, and Patty Coates was nominated for re-election by OSSTF/FEESO President Harvey Bischof.
The convention considered and adopted a comprehensive Action Plan for the next two years. Multi-pronged in its approach, the Action Plan considers three main areas of action. The first broad area of concern is worker issues, with specific attention to health and safety, young workers’ concerns, women’s equality, and defending the rights of Indigenous workers, workers of colour, LGBTQ workers and injured workers. The second action area laid out in the plan is a focus on the labour movement itself, with emphasis on member engagement, promoting a unified labour movement, and organizing the unorganized. And the third action area is advocacy and political action, with a focus on promoting peace and inclusion, fighting for a green economy, standing up for public services, working against poverty, and electing provincial, municipal and federal governments that are more closely aligned with the concerns of the labour movement.
The convention also featured a number of resolutions, reports, panels and keynote speakers. Among the speakers were Hassan Yussuff, President of the Canadian Labour Congress, provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Farrah Khan, Co-chair of Ontario’s Roundtable on Violence against Women, and Stephen Lewis, former Ontario NDP Leader and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations.
On November 22, convention delegates rallied and marched to Queen’s Park where, later that day, Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, received third reading in the legislature. Many of the positive measures in Bill 148 are the direct result of intense lobbying efforts on the part of the labour movement, spearheaded by the OFL.