TORONTO, ON – The economic update released today by the provincial government fails to address damage done by years of Liberal austerity and misplaced priorities, says CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn.
“People will squabble about whether or not this government is on target to eliminate a deficit, but that’s all a distraction from the real problems facing this province,” he said. “The Hydro One fire sale means there will actually be hundreds of millions less in funding for public services every year, at a time when we’re already seeing schools and hospitals closing across the province.”
Years of successive cuts have left Ontario with the lowest corporate taxes since the Great Depression. That has taken billions away from public services like hospitals, schools and housing.
“Those handouts to profitable corporations have a cost, and that cost is real cuts in services that Ontarians rely on,” said Hahn. “As families struggle to get by without those services, it amounts to a pay cut for the working poor, all to give corporate tax cuts to the rich. It’s a harsh reality for Ontario’s increasingly precarious workforce.”
A report released last week by the Ontario Common Front found that the share of the workforce earning minimum wage has increased five-fold since 1997, that precarious and part-time work is becoming the norm, and that income inequality is rising sharply, with the distance between the wealthiest and poorest 10 percent of the population nearly doubled.
“This government’s economic approach is failing Ontarians. Now they’ve introduced Bill 144, a surprise, omnibus budget bill, right before the holidays. Introducing a budget bill in December is highly unusual and suggests it contains something the Liberals don’t want people to see, like its measures to reduce public accountability,” said Hahn. “Instead they should focus on restoring revenue, keeping important economic levers like Hydro One fully public and investing in good jobs and vital public services.”
CUPE is Ontario’s community union, with more than 250,000 members providing quality public services we all rely on, in every part of the province, every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.
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