We Mourn Paul Barry, First President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions

February 23, 2024

Paul Barry was a paramedic at a time when many ambulances were based in hospitals. 

He was the president of the CUPE local which represented the staff at the Ajax Pickering hospital. 

He was also the representative for the GTA on the CUPE hospital central bargaining committee and led the 10-day illegal walkout by 14,000 hospital workers in 1981, defying an order by the Ontario Labour Relations Board and by the Ontario Superior Court to stop the strike and return to work.

He was the founding president of OCHU from 1982-87. He was an outstanding advocate for women’s wage equality and a progressive voice within CUPE and the labour movement. He went on staff at CUPE in 1987.

“Paul Barry epitomized the best aspects of the fearlessness, the passion and the hunger for equality of the labour movement in the 1980s. He was a born leader, inspirational and charismatic and willing to defy authority to advance the interests of his members. We followed him into an illegal strike, and we followed him into a period of consolidating the respect we earned and then into great gains for our members. He was a great leader.” Michael Hurley, president, Ontario Council of Hospital Unions-CUPE

Other Articles


Funding Public Services: The LCBO is publicly owned. Its immense buying power keeps prices low....

read more