PC Critic Says McGuinty Still Kow-towing To Public Sector Unions
Queen’s Park: Ontario PC Deputy Finance Critic Jeff Yurek is not convinced about McGuinty’s seriousness about bringing runaway government spending under control. He says that the recent deal concluded with teachers is so much smoke and mirrors.
In July the McGuinty Liberals announced that they had a deal with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) to freeze wages. Jeff says this deal fails to freeze the salary grid. Under the current deal, some teachers are in line for a $7,000 salary increase over the next two years. “And research shows that at least 40 per cent of teachers will move up the grid, costing taxpayers millions of dollars more,” he says.
“The McGuinty Liberals still have no plan – or sense of urgency – to tackle their self-inflicted spending crisis,” Yurek said. “Because Dalton McGuinty is so indebted to big labour special interests, his Liberal government won’t stand up to public sector unions, Ontario won’t hit its fiscal targets, the debt will keep piling up and funding for essential services like education is in jeopardy,” Yurek added.
In May Yurek had tabled his Comprehensive Public Sector Compensation & Wage Freeze Act. The bill proposed to freeze the salaries for all public sector workers including bureaucrats, fire fighters and teachers. It would have also frozen the salary grid for all public-sector employees for two years.
“My legislation – which the Liberals voted against – would have frozen the salary grid because that’s what a wage freeze is,” Yurek noted.
Yurek said that his bill was an important step that could have been taken immediately to get spending under control by saving taxpayers $2 billion annually. It would have also helped bring public sector salaries more in line with their private sector counterparts. Studies have shown that with benefits factored in, public sector salaries can be as much as 27 per cent higher than in the private sector.
“Businesses know that heavily indebted governments can’t afford the things that make them attractive places to relocate to, invest in, or create jobs.
“And Dwight Duncan is fooling himself if he thinks an open letter to public sector union bosses is going to change minds, find savings and put Ontario on the right fiscal track. He’s more likely to get a stack of return-to-sender responses than a real path toward reining in out of control government spending,” Yurek concluded.
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