TORONTO, Dec. 1, 2016 /CNW/ - Big pay hikes for managers in the Ontario Public Service are a sure sign the province can afford to put money into public services and roll back years of public sector wage cuts, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) says.
"I guess some people are upset about big raises for OPS managers, but I take them as a good sign," Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. "If Treasury Board has money for these folks, then surely it has money for services and people."
Thomas said it is well past time Premier Kathleen Wynne ended the "Age of Austerity" and started putting money where it's needed most.
"We've had nine years of real spending cuts in our hospitals, and when I look at other sectors of government, they're not doing any better," he said. "Services are starving wherever you look, from rural schools to community colleges to residential services for children and youth in care.
"Poverty is not getting better, that I can see, and too many people can't afford to pay their electricity bills," Thomas said. "It's time to fund society's needs."
Thomas also called on the province to start putting money into the wages of frontline workers in the provincial public sector. According to government figures, those workers averaged wage increases of 0.6 per cent a year from mid-2012 to mid-2016 – at a time when the rate of inflation was three times that.
"In real dollars that you can actually buy groceries with, most workers in the provincial public sector have taken a five per cent pay cut, or worse, since the last recession," Thomas said. "It's time to restore the balance."
The OPSEU President said finding the funding for better public services and wages is "not difficult" if the government really wants to do it.
"By now, it's pretty obvious that this government's privatization agenda is the biggest boondoggle in the history of Ontario," he said. "We could save billions tomorrow if we just quit funneling public dollars to Bay Street and big construction bosses. It's completely doable."
SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)
For further information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931