The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) supports Black liberation groups and their call for the defunding of police services. Specific demands for change will look different from city to city, depending on the needs of the community. There is, however, an understanding that fundamental and disruptive change is required: defund the police. The OFL and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists – Canada (CBTU) are calling to end the police killings of Black and Indigenous people; to reimagine alternatives to police services, decriminalization, disarmament, and demilitarization; to redistribute overfunded police budgets towards public services in the communities; and to explore community-driven, community-led solutions to community safety and well-being.
“The routine brutalizing of Black, Brown and Indigenous people by police must end,” said Ontario Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Ahmad Gaied. “From repeated murders of Black, Indigenous and other racialized people, to excessive use of force, and the discriminatory practice of carding, all levels of government must realize that police do not bring safety to marginalized communities. If budgets are about priorities and we are serious about stopping police violence, we must defund the police.”
“Our governments have mistakenly entrusted community safety to an overmilitarized police force that has shown its deep-seated racism through violence against, and murders of, members of Black, Brown and Indigenous communities,” said Coalition of Black Trade Unionists – Canada President Yolanda McClean. “Unions have always been on the forefront of progressive change. I strongly expect Ontario’s labour movement will provide the necessary resources and spaces for Black liberation groups and racialized trade unionists. Until there is justice, we will not give up the fight.”
“There is absolutely no need for police to be called for completing mental wellness checks. Time and time again, people of colour are murdered or humiliated at the hands of law enforcement,” said OFL Workers of Colour Vice-President Rechev Browne.
The OFL will, in collaboration with the CBTU, combat anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in workplaces and unions; support local organizing efforts to combat police brutality; create education pieces on stopping anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism; and provide organizing spaces for Black members. The OFL encourages affiliates to discuss how they too can support initiatives to defund the police, conduct research on alternatives, and support Black, Indigenous and racialized members.
The OFL – which represents over one million unionized workers in Ontario – made history last month when it became the first and largest provincial federation of labour in the country to support defunding the police.
“As allies, we must act now and support the call to defund the police,” said OFL President Patty Coates. “Families and communities across this province have lived with the trauma and fear brought on by police for far too long. I know the conversations about this will be difficult, but they are necessary. Together, in our unions, we will win true change.”
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Ontario Federation of Labour
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