Statement from Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour
(Toronto, Ontario) – The Ontario Federation of Labour welcomes the measures in today’s budget that will make the province a better place for workers, but warns that it will continue to vigorously oppose all forms of privatization and cuts that unfairly place the burden for reducing the deficit on the backs of workers.
The government received a strong endorsement from Ontarians in the last provincial election to move forward on commitments to create a public pension program, invest in public infrastructure and job creation, implement modest steps towards fair taxation, and increase wages for personal support and childcare workers. The OFL commends these positive measures and looks forward to working with the government to ensure the Ontario Registered Pension Plan (ORPP) will work for Ontario workers. The importance of the ORPP being comparable to the Canada Pension Plan, so that it can be rolled into that plan at a later date, cannot be overstated.
Overall, the government must go further to reverse austerity and the labour movement cautions against being drawn back into another divisive round of deficit paranoia. Ontario already has the lowest per capita spending on public services and, for all Ontarians who rely on these services, further cuts is not an option. Instead, the government must live up to its responsibility to raise revenue and reinvest it back into our communities. While raising income tax on the top two percent is a positive measure, recent corporate tax cuts should also be reversed to ensure corporations are paying their fair share.
The continued focus on public private partnerships (P3s) and the potential privatization of public assets also raises major concerns. Ontario needs to look no further than the Brampton hospital boondoggle that cost taxpayers an additional $394 million or the Highway 407 debacle to know that P3s and government giveaways of public assets do not deliver gains for the citizens of this province.
The coming months and years will be challenging times for the government and labour in this province. It should come as no surprise to the government when public sector unions come to the bargaining table looking for gains. Furthermore, as Ontario continues to struggle to rebound from the recent recession, the labour movement is committed to working with the government to increase protections for workers increasingly finding themselves in precarious and part-time work to ensure no one is left behind.