Ontario Premier's reaction to human rights concerns took 10 months too long

“I’m delighted the Premier has turned her mind to the intolerable situation in Saudi Arabia. But what’s she going to do about the pain she’s inflicted on Ontario’s colleges? That’s where this whole mess started” — Warren (Smokey) Thomas

Toronto (26 Jan. 2016) — Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has taken “10 months too long” to respond to human rights concerns around Ontario colleges operating in Saudi Arabia, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) says.

“I wrote Kathleen Wynne about Algonquin College’s campus in Saudi Arabia over 10 months ago,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “Does the Premier read her mail? Or did spending public dollars to support a brutal regime not matter until it hit the front pages?”

Premier's excuse implausible

The Premier says she only just learned about male-only campuses run by Algonquin, Niagara, and Centennial colleges in Saudi Arabia. Thomas wasn’t buying it.

“Our union has published four news releases on this issue in the last four weeks,” he said. “It beggars belief that she didn’t know about these schools or the context in which they were set up.”

Government says one thing — does another

The OPSEU President was also sceptical of Wynne’s outrage over the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia.

“This is a Premier who says one thing and does another,” he said. “She talks about closing the wage gap between men and women but won’t fund pay equity. She launches an action program on violence, then underfunds colleges to the point where they set up shop in a country where women go to jail for driving.”

Need for action on Ontario's colleges — overseas and at home

"The Ontario government spends less per student on community colleges than any other province in Canada," Thomas said.

“I’m delighted the Premier has turned her mind to the intolerable situation in Saudi Arabia. But what’s she going to do about the pain she’s inflicted on Ontario’s colleges? That’s where this whole mess started.”

NUPGE 

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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