The challenge

The Ontario Public Sector Employees Union (OPSEU) needed to draw attention to the issues surrounding the privatization of public services in Ontario. Privatized services are often more expensive for the public, providing worse overall service than their public counterparts. OPSEU’s goal was to push back against privatization, with an integrated campaign that encouraged citizens to get out and fight for public ownership.

Owning it from the ground up

Working together, we helped OPSEU design and launch We Own It, a grassroots movement to mobilize Ontarians in favour of public services. Reaching out to natural allies like community groups, unions, student unions and equity-seeking groups, and further targeting families and individuals affected by privatization, We Own It! Is a positive, evidence-based campaign that highlights the benefits that come from not just keeping public services public, but bringing privatized services back into the public’s domain.

Power of the people

Our research revealed that though general knowledge about privatization was low, many people did have direct or indirect experience with specific instances. We took a focused, multi-pronged approach, identifying and appealing to key concerns built around the issues that concerned particular communities.

We also ensured everyone was able to engage in whatever way made them most comfortable. Public engagement on and offline stoked the interest of the general community.

Creative support gave mobilizers and volunteers key messages and crucial goals to help engage a wider audience.

A dedicated website shared breaking news, issues-based explainers and case studies of communities and their experiences with privatization, as well as providing opportunities for people of all stripes to get more involved.

Public good

Our efforts helped OPSEU identify and bring together more than 30,000 people in less than six months, swelling the grassroots into a movement to help keep Ontario’s public services public.

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