‘A woman’s place is in the opposition,’ Ontario NDP says

Women from across the province gathered in Toronto for Women's Conference

2019 NDP Women's Conference
NDP and United Steelworkers rep Mary Lou Scott, ONDP co-chair Laura Thompson, and affordable housing advocate Elysse Soplet, welcome guests to the 2019 NDP Women's Conference. This year's theme was "A Woman's Place Is In The Opposition." Taylor Thompson/Toronto Observer

More than 100 guests recently gathered for the 2019 Ontario NDP Women’s Conference to discuss how to get involved in the party’s fight heading into the next three years of a Conservative government.

Conference delegates heard from MPs and MPPs on issues, legislation and bills, while urging young people to join in the conversation about politics. They discussed how to challenge gender inequity and how to address other issues women face in Ontario.

More than 100 guests gathered at the United Steel Workers Hall in Toronto for the ONDP Women’s Conference on Feb. 23, 2019. (Taylor Thompson/TORONTO OBSERVER)

“A women’s place is in the opposition,” Andrea Horwath, MPP and leader of Ontario’s official opposition, said in a pre-recorded video.

“We’re standing up for things we believe in — pharmacare, dental care, child care, fighting for a better province. Because we’re not just standing up to Doug Ford, we’re standing up for the things we believe in.”

Suze Morrison, MPP for Toronto Centre and the ONDP’s women’s issues critic, spoke about her experience as an Indigenous woman from a middle-class family who grew up in Regent Park. That experience led her to pursue gun control in Ontario.

Sara Singh, MPP for Brampton Centre and deputy leader for the official opposition, also spoke about her personal experiences and highlighted the importance of involving young people in politics.

“Encourage young people to get involved, to have their voices heard and to know their experiences matter,” she told the conference delegates. “That is the greatest tool we can employ right now as opposition.”

ONDP MPP Sara Singh discussed the value each woman’s individual experience brings to the movement and urged guests to continue fighting as they head into three years of a Conservative government. (Taylor Thompson/TORONTO OBSERVER)

Lynn Dee Eason, a former professor at Sault College, said she was particularly concerned about the future of post-secondary education.

Eason began her career 30 years ago on a contract teaching position, which turned into a full-time position. But she says those simple times are over, with a majority of teachers now competing for contract work and living without job security.

“About 75 per cent of the faculty at our college is precarious faculty,” she said.

“They are always on edge as to whether they will get their next contract. To be on that kind of knife edge, it means that the students … are affected greatly.”

This month, the Ford government advised Ontario school boards to freeze hiring until details of the upcoming budget were released. There are also rumours about the elimination of full-day kindergarten, which amplifies job uncertainty for teachers.

“We were already worried about funding cuts, but this is more than teachers were expecting,” said Eason.

Many of the Ford government’s decisions have left the residents of Ontario unsettled, such as announcements of cuts to multiple  programs and the steady push towards privatization of public healthcare. But it is clear the group of women in this room are not going to go down without a fight.

Watch highlights from the 2019 Ontario NDP Women’s Conference:

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Posted: Feb 25 2019 1:42 pm
Filed under: News