Toronto, Nov. 26, 2019 - In an historic election, Patty Coates is the first woman
to be elected President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). Ontario Federation
of Labour (OFL) delegates have elected Coates and her team, Secretary-Treasurer
Ahmad Gaied and Executive Vice-President Janice Folk-Dawson to lead the Federation's
fight against the Conservative's austerity agenda.
"It is a great honour to be elected by the OFL delegates to carry the Federation's
vision forward," said Ontario Federation of Labour President Patty Coates. "Ahmad
Gaied and Janice Folk-Dawson have been instrumental in organizing to demand decent
work laws, mobilize the Power of Many and build the resistance to the government's
"In my new role at the Federation I vow to continue the work we've done through
the Power of Many campaign to stand up for working people in this province. We will
keep up the fight, escalate our actions, and build an Ontario for all," said Ontario
Federation of Labour Secretary-Treasurer Ahmad Gaied.
"I will continue the Federation's work to build local capacity to resist Conservative
cuts," said Ontario Federation of Labour Executive Vice-President Janice Folk-Dawson.
"Together we are stronger, and we can stop the cuts and privatization that hurt
workers and their families."
The team was elected on a platform of stopping Conservative cuts, building local
capacity, organizing to win, creating safe space, and stopping Doug Ford.
From 2015-2017 Patty Coates served as Secretary-Treasurer of the OFL and Ahmad Gaied
served as Executive Vice-President. Along with outgoing President Chris Buckley,
Coates and Gaied led the OFL as it pressed for and won new rights for workers during
the first comprehensive review of labour and employment laws in more than 20 years.
Since the election of a Progressive Conservative majority, they have vigorously
resisted the erosion of workers' rights.
Janice Folk-Dawson served as a Vice-President on the Executive Committee of the
OFL representing Labour Councils, and served 14 years as President of the Guelph
& District Labour Council, working tirelessly to bring affiliates together with
allies to advance a progressive agenda for the Guelph community.
Outgoing OFL President Chris Buckley announced in July 2019 that he would not seek
The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For more information,
visit www.ofl.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.
Patty Coates is the President of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
Patty Coates served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour
(OFL), Canada's largest provincial labour federation. A long-time fighter for equity,
labour council activist and community builder, Patty was elected at the OFL's biennial
Convention in November 2015 to help rally the members – and the resources – of a
united labour movement in Ontario.
Patty is an educational assistant, a proud longtime member of the Ontario Secondary
School Teachers' Federation of Ontario (OSSTF) and a passionate activist. She served
as the President of the Educational Assistant Bargaining Unit of OSSTF District
17 in Barrie and the surrounding area, representing educational assistants and early
childhood educators. During her 16 years in that role, Patty negotiated five collective
agreements with significant gains in each round of bargaining. She chaired the OSSTF
Provincial Collective Bargaining Committee-Negotiations Advisory Sub Committee,
she was active in the OSSTF Provincial Status of Women committee and Provincial
Parliamentary and Constitution Committee, and was a frequent workshop presenter.
Patty was the President of the Barrie and District Labour Council for eight years
and previously held the position of Vice-President and council delegate. Under Patty's
leadership, the labour council expanded its membership and activism, effectively
reaching out to new local unions and members in the area.
For four years, Patty has been the labour co-chair of the Simcoe Muskoka Workforce
Development Board and held one of three labour positions for the four years prior.
She also served on the Employment Insurance Board of Referees, until it was abolished
by the Conservative government.
Patty is also a tireless campaigner for the NDP, working as the volunteer organizer
in federal election campaigns in the Barrie-Innisfil riding and holding the women's
position for the riding.
Patty's background as a Labour Council activist drives her commitment to community-based,
grassroots labour activism that brings together union members at a local level.
Her passionate commitment to equality has earned her a reputation as a mentor and
supporter of young women who are new to the labour movement and political activism.
Ahmad Gaied is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
Ahmad Gaied served as the Executive Vice-President of the Ontario Federation of
Labour (OFL), Canada's largest provincial labour federation. Elected at the OFL's
biennial Convention in November 2015 at the age of 33, Ahmad is the youngest officer
in the 58-year history of the Ontario Federation of Labour. He is also a Worker
of Colour and a proud member of the Muslim community in Toronto.
Ahmad is an ardent supporter of grassroots and worker-led initiatives to assist
organizing non-union workers so that they can benefit from union representation.
A long-time activist and community advocate, Ahmad began his trade union activism
as a chief steward at his No Frills store in 2003 and rose through the ranks to
the position of Member Engagement Representative for UFCW Canada Local 1000A.
Within his union, Ahmad has also served as a certified member of the Joint Health
and Safety Committee, and was elected to UFCW Canada's Toronto Divisional Board
for both Loblaw and No Frills units, representing retail workers across the GTA.
He is also a frequent instructor and facilitator on labour rights issues and has
led numerous initiatives on engaging young workers.
In addition to his labour union activism, Ahmad is a dedicated community advocate.
He currently volunteers with the not-for-profit, non-partisan organization Canadian
Muslim Vote, dedicated to encouraging the Muslim community to engage in the electoral
process. Ahmad is Vice-President of the federal NDP Scarborough North riding association
and has worked extensively as an NDP voter contact organizer in the GTA and throughout
the country — most notably in the 2015 Alberta election that led to a sweeping NDP
Ahmad also worked as Employment Insurance (EI) worker representative and referee
before the role of EI referee was abolished by the Harper Conservative government.
Ahmad self-identifies as Canadian, Libyan, Arab and African. Ahmad speaks both English
and Arabic, which he uses to build bridges within the community.
As part of the new generation of workers who are facing the most precarious labour
market in our country's history, Ahmad is committed to mobilizing youth and equity-seeking
workers to stop Ontario's race to the bottom.
Janice Folk-Dawson is Executive-Vice President of the Ontario Federation of Labour.
Janice Folk-Dawson currently serves as a Vice-President on the Executive Committee
and Board of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) representing Labour Councils.
She has also served in the capacity of President of the Guelph & District Labour
Council for 14 years, working tirelessly to bring affiliates together with allies
to advance a progressive agenda for the Guelph community.
Janice is a working-class feminist who roots herself and her actions in the principles
of peace, equity and solidarity. Having suffered a workplace injury in 1995, Janice
has also been a tireless advocate for the rights of injured workers.
Janice has been a unionized public sector worker for over 40 years, first with NAPE
in Wabush, Newfoundland and Labrador and for the last 32 years with CUPE at the
University of Guelph as a support worker.
Since starting work at the University of Guelph in 1986 Janice has always been an
active member of her local, CUPE 1334. Over her career she has served as a steward,
health and safety representative, pension representative and Vice-President.
In 2001 Janice was elected as President of her local, serving as the spokesperson
in numerous rounds of bargaining. During these rounds her local has seen gains including
contracting-out and job security protections, pension improvements, across the board
wage increases, and the conversion of precarious, temporary jobs to full time positions
In 2003 Janice was also elected as the Chair of CUPE Ontario's University Workers
Coordinating Committee, joining the CUPE Ontario Executive Board. In her role Janice
has supported countless University locals at the bargaining table while building
partnerships with our allies in the student movement.
Janice has also been active with numerous allies and campaigns including $15 & Fairness,
Six Nations and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council, Wellington Water Watchers,
United Against Racism, the NDP and the Council of Canadians. Janice was also a co-founder
of the We Are Guelph organization, formed to maximize progressive representation
in the municipal elections.
Janice lives in Guelph with Bob, her life partner of 42 years, and is the proud
mother to Dylan, currently completing his Paramedic diploma at Humber College.