We of Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 2 are committed to free public transit in the city of Toronto and beyond. No one should have to pay for transit.
The fact is that right now Doug Ford and his Tories are sabotaging our city and our province. They’re no government of the people. They are a bosses’ government, and they’re attacking workers and poor people in every way—on the job, in education, in health care… the list goes on. Ford also has an axe out for public transit. His “upload” of the TTC is a step toward privatization, undermining the public for the profits of a few.
We know that transit fares gouge oppressed people the hardest. They’re a tax on the working class and the poor. None of us should have to sacrifice hard-earned money for food, rent or whatever else just to get to and from where we work and shop. No unemployed person should have to choose between saving cash or going to a job interview. Free public transit would mean a boost to the economy and to society as a whole.
Public transit is currently free in Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. The project there has been a success. Now it’s spreading throughout the country. Their tax revenues are up because people are spending more money. “Free buses are better buses,” says the business journal The Economist. “Expensive but worth it.”
What we really cannot afford is the current transportation crisis. “Gridlock costs the Toronto region $6 billion annually in lost productivity and is projected to grow to $15 billion by 2031,” complains the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Traffic in Toronto is nothing short of a disaster. The average commuting time is 96 minutes both ways — the worst in North America and second worst of any major city worldwide. Goods are more expensive because they take longer and cost more to transport. Hundreds of thousands of us sit in cars frustrated, burning time, money and gasoline. It takes a toll on all the things we value most.
Free public transit will ease the gridlock, and CUPE Local 2 will do its part to make that a reality. As a union, we are about something bigger than just our own members. We are part of the labour movement. We stand for good jobs for all. Together we have the power to defeat the employers’ agenda of cuts to vital services. The current batch of parties and politicians will not do it for us. The Conservatives, Liberals, Greens and even the NDP are too tied up with the short-term interests of big business and the banks. We don’t trust them to tackle the problems confronting the rest of us.
As working-class and oppressed people, we can rely only on our own strength and initiative. After all, we’re the ones that do the work. We don’t need the rich. They need us. Let’s remember that together, and make it the starting point for our politics. With Ford’s approval ratings in the dumps, the writing is on the wall.
The time has come to bring his rule to an end. Mass strikes and protests across Ontario are what it will take to bring down Doug Ford.