Ontario Council Report

Unifor Ontario Regional Council – Delegate Report December 2nd – 4th 2016

Unifor delegates from across Ontario attended the Ontario Regional Council meeting in Toronto December 2nd – 4th 2016. Dino Chiodo, Ontario Regional Council Chair welcomed the delegates to the convention and for the next two days chaired an incredibly well run full agenda council. During the conference Keynote speakers included Chis Buckley from the Ontario Federation of Labour and Jerry Dias president of Unifor. Delegates received committee reports from; finance, women’s, organizing, LGBTQ, health and safety & workers with disabilities committees.

In my opinion, the most moving presentation was by Tareq Hadhad. Tareq’s family is from Syria and were sponsored by the Ontario Council. His family run a Novia Scotia based business called “Peace by Chocolate” Our delegate kits included 4 small handmade chocolates which had a unique story behind them. Tareq Hadhad’s family business in Syria was a small chocolate factory which was destroyed by a bomb. The family narrowly escaped death because they had left the building 10 minutes before. Tareq explained what it was like to suddenly have nothing and become refugees, it was difficult to leave everything they knew, their family, their friends and their home.   When they arrived in Canada, Tareq said they received a beautiful reception at the airport, Customs officers formed a line to welcome them to Canada. Tareq was the first to enter the arrivals lounge, he was shocked “So many people came out to welcome us, they were waving flags and so happy to see us. I felt like the prime minister!” The chocolate in our kits were made in Nova Scotia in their new family business, which incidentally was built with the help of the community. Tareq said “The world needs more peace and more chocolate” This was a heart warming story, being a member of an organization that helped this family and the difference it made to their lives made me feel proud to be a Canadian and a Unifor member.

On Saturday nominations were accepted from the floor for the Ontario council and standing committees. Tim McKinnon our GM plant chair was acclaimed as one of eight members at large and will be on the council for the next three years.

Ontario Regional Council Executive:

Chair: Dino Chiodo, Local 444
Vice-Chair: Candace Lavalley, Local 7-0
Secretary-Treasurer: Tullio DiPonti, Local 2458
Members at Large: Pearl Almeida, Local 6006, Ken Cole, Local 333, Stephanie Haskell, Local 938, Kari Jefford, Local 229, Scott McIlmoyle, Local 112, (Tim McKinnon, Local 199), Jim Reid, Local 27, Debbie Montgomery, Local 4268.
Aboriginal & Racialized Workers: Shereta Bowers, Local 1106; Anna Grizans, Local 7-O; Shermain Pereira, Local 414
Health & Safety and Environment: Stephanie Brownlee, Local 26; Susan Markus, Local 1859; Emil Mesic, Local 707
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender: Dana Dunphy, Local 444; Craig Hallikainen, Local 112; Deanne Smith Local 25
Political Action Committee: Jacqueline McIntosh, Local 79-M; Jodi Nesbitt, Local 240; Ann Marie Tulett, Local 27
Women’s Committee: Gwen Campbell, Local 1285; Susan MacKinnon, Local 444; Véronique Prévost, Local 6004
Workers with Disabilities: Derek MacLeod, Local 6004; Angie Martz, Local 229; Sam Snyders, Local 1996-O
Young Worker’s Committee: Samia Hashi, Local 6006; Corey Nilsson, Local 414; Carly Sonier, Local 1101

During Saturday’s lunch break delegates held a flash mob carolling session at Dundas and Young the twist was the words to the Christmas Carols had been changed to draw attention to the need for the $15 minimum wage campaign a video clip was posted on the internet.

Michael Mitchell who is one of two lawyers who were asked to do an independent review Ontario Labour law and make recommendations. Michael explained that business wants to maintain extreme control in the name of flexibility, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make recommendations to change outdated Labour laws.

The council ended with an interesting workshop on mental illness by Victoria Maxwell. The previous day Victoria used humor and personal antidotes to tell her story, “Funny you dont look Crazy” a one woman show about her thirteen-years experience with mental illness, from diagnosis through recovery. On Sunday Victoria ran a workshop and provided excellent advice how to help deal with and help others who suffer from mental illness. Some of the interesting statistics I was surprised to learn.

  • 1 in 5 Canadians have or will have a mental illness during his or her lifetime. the other 4 are or will be indirectly affected by the illness of a friend or family member.
  • Over 10 Canadians die every day by suicide each day, this statistic does not include attempted suicide
  • The stigma of having a mental illness is cited as the #1 reason preventing people from seeking treatment and taking anti-depressants. 85% of chronic depression can be treated successfully sadly due to the stigma attached to mental illness only 50% will seek treatment.

Delegate kits  included a variety of materials including  the Ontario Regional Council Report 2016. which includes information about all the workplaces in Ontario represented by Unifor.  I am often asked how many people work at GM in Canada  so here are the current numbers. GM – (Oshawa –  2,469), (St Catharines – 1,429)  , (Woodstock – 64, (Cami – 2,725) = Total 6,637

They say a picture says a thousand words, so click here to see our 200,000 word report (200 pictures that is!)  Images From 2016 Ontario Council   There is also a video summary available on youtube.com/UniforCanada 

In Solidarity, Peter Scott
Recording Secretary & Ontario Council Delegate
Delegate from Unifor Local 199 included; Rob Acker, Greg Brady, Dave De Marco, Brad Isherwood, Tim McKinnon,  Brian Nicholl, Mark Roy & Peter Scott.
Niagara Area National Reps in attendance; Doug Orr, Matt Root & Mike Michaud. Former president and council delegate  Wayne Gates also attended as an observer.