Metro’s in Chaos

Turner Fenton Secondary School
Brampton, Ontario

By Anita and Santir (Grade 10)

Metro has finally taken a stand. Everyone has been busy in this last week of October getting ready for the Metro-wide, 2-day protest on Friday, October 25, 1996 and Saturday, October 26, 1996. The citizens of Metro are fed up with Ontario's program of spending cuts, which include welfare, hospital closing, and immense civil service layoffs. They will take no more. They want to be heard and they certainly were when they marched the streets of Metro shouting their disapproval.

Many events took place leading up to the big protest on the 25th and 26th. According to the Toronto Star on October 22, 1996, three rallies took place. The largest took place in Downtown Toronto at Queens Park where nearly 1,200 protesters shut down an intersection. The rally moved on to Wellesley Street, causing a huge traffic jam. Protesters were displaying their disapproval of the Tory Government’s Health Care cuts.

The second rally consisted of about 150 people, most of whom were Indians. Protesters here were demonstrating their disapproval in the death of Anthony George at the age of 38.

The third rally consisted of about 100 people who protested against spending cuts in Public Housing at Queen’s Park.

Many people have been affected by this situation. A lot of surgeries have been delayed in Metro Hospitals. According to Dr. Hugh Scully, a cardiovascular surgeon at the Toronto Hospital, about 25 surgeries have been cancelled. More than 33 surgeries were cancelled at the Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto. At Mount Sinai Hospital, 60 surgeries were cancelled. Even though many surgeries were cancelled, the hospitals were still open to handle emergencies.

On Friday, October 25, the Toronto Transit Commission was shut down, costing the government 1.5 million. The TTC, plans to sue the TTC protesters to restore the loss. More than 2000 TTC workers didn’t show up for work. The TTC was up and running on the 26th to take thousands of protesters to the final rally at Queens Park.

Out of the 15,575 Catholic School students only 12% showed up for a regular day of classes on Friday. Only 15 Roman Catholic schools and 6 elementary schools were open. According to the Toronto Star, Tim Gleason of Thornhill was very angry because of the fact that Jr. Kindergarten was removed and his son has to wait another year before going to school.

More than 1000 people rallied outside the Toronto Stock Exchange. At one point the scene became so intense that many protesters tried to move inside the building, but were stopped by police. Linda Torney, co-chair of the Metro Days of Action, believes they accomplished what they had set out to do.

In Scarborough, it was like any other normal day, but The Toronto Star reported about 250 people rallied at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

On the last day of the Days of Action protest, thousands of people showed up for the huge rally that concluded the Metro-wide two-day protest. The Toronto Star said the rally began at the Lakeshore’s Coronation Park at 10:30 am and then wandered its way to the Metro Convention Center. Over 75,000 people showed up at this final rally against the Tory Government.

Now that the Metro-wide protest is over, labor is deep in thought over what to do next. All of Metro hoped to change Mike Harris'’s decision, but the premier is standing his ground.

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