At one time, Ground Zero and the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions [Canadian Union of Public Employees] had offices side by side in townhouses on St. Nicholas Street in Toronto. It was a symbol of the close alliance between the two organizations on a number of public awareness projects concerning the threat to health care during the deficit slashing era of the 1990s. Michael Hurley and Steve Eadie from the union coordinated support for Ground Zero to produce a series of events. These ranged from media opportunities, such as a MASH tent on the lawn of the Ontario legislature, through an extended tour of union locals throughout the province.

The Business of Health [1991]

Thandie Mpumlwana struggles with Gwen Baillie as The Germ.

A cabaret style performance that mixed verbatim stories from hospital workers with a stylized battle between the workers and Mr. Camerahead, a puppet hospital manager.

Supported in the research and development phase by the Ontario Arts Council’s Artists and the Workplace program, the show was designed to make union locales throughout the province aware of the key issues in the union’s advocacy campaign for more adequate staffing levels in the hospitals. It toured the province from small northern communities to the larger cities like Ottawa and Toronto. The more than 50 performances made it the most extensive Labour tour GZP has ever undertaken.

Script: Collaborative with Peggy Sample
Music: Rob Fortin and Sue Newman
Performing Artists: Gwen Baillie, Thandie Mpumlwana
Director: Don Bouzek
Designer: Jerrard Smith

Where’s the Care? [1990]

Rhonda Payne and Gwen Baillie with OCHU members from Peterborough.

A brief collage of songs and stories about health care, which included a segment in each location of a different worker telling their own story as part of the performance.

OCHU supported this show as part of a coordinated campaign by social justice groups to put their concerns on the agenda of the provincial election. David Peterson lost to Bob Rae and the NDP. Each show had a set script of songs and text drawn from interviews with hospital workers. In each of 12 cities from Thunder Bay to Kingston, a local OCHU or SEIU official would read a centrally prepared text. Then a rank and file worker would tell a short version of their own experience, coached by the GZP team.

Script: Collaborative
Music: Washboard Hank
Performing Artists: Gwen Baillie, Rhonda Payne
Director: Don Bouzek
Designer: Jerrard Smith