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Workers of the future

May Day message from the future: A just transition for Ontario

Below is the text of a speech by Dylan Penner, our Climate and Social Justice Organizer, at the May Day rally in Ottawa. The rally was part of a provincial day of action organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour. 

Fellow workers! Bonjour tour le monde!

I’m here with a message from the year 2025.

It’s been several years of transformative change through a just transition for workers and communities across Ontario. 

We’re well on our way to entirely phasing out gas-fired electricity by 2030. 

We created new economic and public institutions to power a just transition rooted in economic and climate justice.

We invested in green manufacturing. 

We invested in sustainable, equitable, and accessible healthcare. Because we recognized that the climate emergency is the single greatest health threat of this century. 

We built and sustained public transit that serves urban, suburban, and rural communities, including bringing back inter-city bus service. Under public ownership.

And we protected our communities from more highways and the greenbelt from more sprawl in the process.

We made green, affordable public housing a reality for all. 

We ensured food sovereignty and food security across the province and supported farmers in shifting operations to regenerative agriculture. We supported Indigenous communities wishing to maintain traditional food systems and enhance their food security.

We ensured all plans recognize the climate crisis as a disability rights issue. 

We ensured higher wages, fairness, and respect for low-paid workers in low-carbon jobs, including equal pay for equal work, raising the minimum wage, and job security and status for all. Because we recognized the climate crisis is a workers’ rights issue for all workers.

Reality Check

Unfortunately, this isn’t an actual message from the future.

But it could be. It should be. 

Whether this becomes our future depends on us. 

For right now, we’re in a code red for the climate. Our communities are on fire. Or flooding. We are struggling to make ends meet while the 1 per cent’s profits and emissions soar.

For decades, successive Ontario governments have put corporate interests ahead of the needs of people in the province.  

Developers, land speculators, extractive industries. This corporate agenda has been on full display under Doug Ford. His government has privatized health care, deregulated environmental protection, railroaded progress on climate action, and undermined democracy.

The Ford government had been at the forefront of abandoning us to deal with crises like the pandemic and the convoy ourselves.  

Ford has been abandoning us to the climate crisis too.

That’s why we’re proud to be part of the Ontario Climate Emergency Campaign. 

What will we do to win the future?

Will we organize to make the Ford government a footnote instead of an ongoing crisis?

Will we organize for millions of good, green, decent, unionized jobs? 

Will we end the free reign of developers who are trampling our communities and the Greenbelt and the Indigenous right to free prior informed consent to what is done with Indigenous lands?

Will we organize in solidarity with Black and racialized tenants against mass evictions like Herongate until we have decarbonized, affordable, public housing for all? 

Will we end the corporate oligarchy that controls our food system and engages in price gouging while calling it inflation?  

Will we keep organizing in our workplaces and communities before, during and after June 2, to make sure the next government answers to us instead of Bay Street billionaires?

We can and we must. Because together we’ll win.

Because there ain’t no power like the power of workers and the power of workers don’t stop.