TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers union (USW) is concerned that today's provincial austerity budget will hurt Ontario workers.
"The McGuinty government is threatening to legislate a pay freeze for workers in the broader public sector, including the staff of institutions like universities that receive less than half of their funding from the provincial government," said Wayne Fraser, USW's Ontario director. "Slashing important public services will also reduce spending needed to support private-sector jobs and risks pushing Ontario back into recession."
Today's provincial budget proposes to cut wages and pensions by $6 billion and other components of public services by $12 billion over the next three years. By 2017-18, the McGuinty government would slash program spending to within one per cent of the draconian level advocated by Don Drummond last month.
"The government brags about easily beating its previous deficit targets, but now expects Ontarians to take seriously its gloomy projections for future years," noted Ken Neumann, USW's national director for Canada.
Like the Drummond report, today's budget exaggerates the need for cuts by assuming that provincial revenues will grow more slowly than the provincial economy. In particular, it assumes flat corporate tax revenues despite rising corporate profits, the cancellation of future corporate tax cuts and promised improvements to corporate tax compliance.
"The budget includes some welcome measures to collect more revenue, including a long-overdue review of Ontario's mining tax," said Fraser. "But it's not enough. Ultimately, the Liberals plan to cut four dollars from important public services for every dollar of additional revenue."
USW has proposed to restore a 14-per-cent provincial corporate tax rate, collect more tax from personal incomes in excess of $250,000 and maintain existing restrictions on HST input tax credits. Such revenue-enhancing policies, combined with more realistic revenue projections, would allow Ontario to balance its books with far fewer cutbacks than proposed by today's provincial budget.
"Both provincially and federally, we need a balanced approach to balancing the budget rather than slashing and burning needed public services," concluded Neumann.
For further information:
Wayne Fraser, USW District 6 Director, 416-243-8792
Ken Neumann, USW National Director for Canada, 416-544-5990
Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, 416-544-5966, [email protected]