TORONTO, Oct. 22 /CNW/ - The union representing the greatest number of provincial government employees is open to a dialogue on future public spending in Ontario but not if the outcome is pre-determined and the result means more damage to public services.
"We welcome Finance Minister Duncan's invitation to join him in consultations leading up to the spring budget," said Ontario Public Service Employee Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "But these talks will hit a brick wall if the government's real agenda is to simply hack-and-chop its way out of the recession at the expense of public services and the dedicated people who deliver them.
"Let's not repeat the mistake of the 1993 social contract. Arbitrary measures are not the way to sound fiscal and labour policy."
Thomas said he was troubled by the Minister's statement in the Legislature that Ontario now has the second-lowest program expense per capita among Canadian jurisdictions.
"Who's celebrating that? It's not the children who need the protection of a Children's Aid Society or who seek treatment in our overcrowded and underfunded health services for the mentally and physically disabled. It's not among those in communities where hospitals have been shut down and emergency services have been eliminated.
"When it comes to Ontario's public services let me remind Premier McGuinty: there is no more fat. All that's left is muscle and bone and once you put the knife into that Ontario will fall to its knees."
The OPSEU president repeated his call that rebuilding public services is the surest means to restoring economic health to communities that have been hardest hit during the recession.
"Across Ontario, in places like Windsor, Durham, the Niagara peninsula and the north where the recession has taken its heaviest toll, it is public sector pay cheques that are keeping families together and communities intact. Diminishing the public sector from this equation is a recipe for disaster."
For further information: For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President, (613) 329-1931 (cell); Greg Hamara, OPSEU Communications, (647) 238-9933 (cell)