TORONTO, May 2, 2013 /CNW/ - The 2013-14 Ontario budget represents an
important shift in emphasis by the provincial government, and will make
a positive difference in the lives of many Ontarians, according to the
leaders of two major unions in the province - CAW and CEP.
CAW National President Ken Lewenza praised the budget's new policy
initiatives in youth employment, infrastructure spending, and welfare
"These investments in our social and economic fabric are both badly
needed, and appreciated," Lewenza said. "Creating new jobs and
protecting the well-being of our families should be government's top
priorities, and this budget starts to acknowledge that."
Dave Coles, National President of the Communications Energy and
Paperworkers Union (CEP), said "Ontarians have suffered badly from both
private-sector recession and public-sector austerity. It's high time
government started to reinvest in important social programs."
The two union leaders also endorsed the budget's measures aimed at
strengthening the province's manufacturing industry, including the
extension of accelerated depreciation measures to stimulate capital
spending in Ontario factories.
The leaders acknowledged the work of the Ontario NDP, led by Andrea
Horvath, in influencing the content of the budget and leveraging the
new social investments. "This is proof that minority government can
work to the advantage of working people," said Coles. The two leaders
encouraged legislators at Queen's Park to approve the budget and
implement the new policies.
The two unions are now reviewing the detailed departmental spending
targets, as well as the government's plans to implement the new
measures to ensure that Ontarians' interests are well-served.
The budget confirmed that the deficit for 2012-13 was one-third below
official projections (at just $9.8 billion). Future deficits will
almost certainly come in far below official targets, and the union
leaders suggested the deficit could be eliminated as early as 2015-16.
"There is no fiscal justification for continuing austerity," Lewenza
said. "This is the time to start turning our attention to Ontario's
pressing social challenges."
The union leaders were disappointed by the government's failure to
announce an increase in Ontario's minimum wage, which has been frozen
for three years. "Ontario's lowest-paid workers need and deserve a
raise," said Coles, "and they need it now."
Coles warned of the possibility of a harshly right-wing Conservative
government, if the budget was defeated and a premature election is
called. "Tim Hudak's vision for Ontario is divisive and destructive,
and he is even challenging the right of unions to exist. We must not
give Tim Hudak the chance he is looking for."
The CAW and the CEP are presently engaged in a process of forming a new
national union, which will encompass over 300,000 members and will be
the largest private sector union in Canada. The process will culminate
with the launch of the new organization at a founding convention this
Labour Day in Toronto.
SOURCE: Canadian Auto Workers Union (CAW)
For further information:
CAW Communications Director Shannon Devine (cell) 416-302-1699
CEP National President Dave Coles (cell): 613-299-5628
CEP Communications Director Michelle Walsh (cell) 613-858-9144