Ontario budget prepares workers for upcoming economic challenges, says CAW President



    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The Ontario government's budget announcement
today that it will spend over $2 billion on job creation, training and much
needed infrastructure projects as well as millions of dollars on poverty
reduction are important steps toward preparing workers for challenging
economic times, CAW President Buzz Hargrove says.
    "The Ontario government's announcement today that will spend hundreds of
millions on improving transit, roads, bridges, water systems and other
projects will not only help rebuild our communities, but also create jobs at a
crucial time," Hargrove said.
    As part of the recent multi-year $17.5 billion MoveOntario 2020 program
announcement, expected to create over 175,000 jobs, the government has
earmarked nearly $500 million to improve public transit in the Greater Toronto
Area and Hamilton, along with additional funds to improve GO Transit
infrastructure and millions of new investment dollars for municipal
infrastructure projects throughout the province.
    With the high Canadian dollar, unfair trade agreements and the lack of
federal government action to deal with the crisis of manufacturing job loss,
the Ontario government budget is an important step in buffering the impact on
workers, he said.
    A new three-year $1.5 billion Skills to Jobs Action Plan has been
established that will provide workers with long-term training opportunities
and facilitate the movement into new jobs. Part of this plan will include a
$355 million Second Career Strategy program to support much-needed career
change training for workers, many of whom have been impacted by manufacturing
job loss, along with $75 million toward expanding apprenticeship training.
    The government has also allocated millions of dollars in business tax
relief that will encourage new investment for Ontario manufacturers along with
employer-based training in the manufacturing sector.
    In addition the $100 million earmarked for social housing will at least
begin to address the lack of affordable housing for many of the province's
poor, he said.
    "Spending more on infrastructure, training, housing and manufacturing is
exactly the right way to respond to an economic downturn," added Hargrove. "In
contrast, Jim Flaherty is wasting billions on corporate tax cuts that will
have no measurable impact on investment or jobs."
    The budget also has crucial measures to help the poor including
$135 million toward free dental care for the working poor and $32 million to
help provide nutritious snacks in schools and community centres among other
initiatives.
    "These measures are an important first step toward developing a
comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for the province," he said.
"Unfortunately, the government still has a long way to go if they are to undo
the devastation left by the Mike Harris government on low-income Ontarians."





For further information:

For further information: CAW Communications, John McClyment, cell, (416)
315-3202, or Angelo DiCaro, cell, (416) 606-6311

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Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)

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ONTARIO BUDGET REACTION 2008

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