News Provincial

Ontario Votes 2014

Hudak vows to cut 100,000 public sector jobs

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Barrie - 

An Ontario PC government would shrink the public payroll by 10% — which would chop 100,000 civil servant positions, Tim Hudak says.

The job cuts would return government to the size it was in 2009 and lead to a savings of $2 billion, the Progressive Conservative leader said Friday, adding vital” frontline service providers such as nurses, doctors and police would not be touched.

While he would keep full-day kindergarten, Hudak said he would change the staffing model and increase some class sizes. The move would mean fewer teachers would be required in the future.

New government hires would not be eligible for the “gold-plated pensions” that currently are in place, he said during a campaign stop in Barrie.

The PCs would also axe a number of programs and agencies — the 30% post-secondary tuition break, the seniors Healthy Home Renovation Tax Credit, Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), the Ontario Power Authority (OPA), and Drive Clean, he said.

Hudak said he believes Ontarians are ready for some “straight talk” on what it will mean to balance the books, as he has promised, by 2016.

“It’s not going to make me happy,” Hudak said.

Some jobs will transfer to the private sector as the government gets out of certain activities such as cafeteria and information technology services, he said.

Many positions will not be filled when people retire.

Hudak said balancing the books will be tough but it’s needed to restore business confidence and create private sector jobs.

“The other two leaders, they seem paralyzed by a desire to be popular so they’re going to tell you that they’re going to spend more. They’re more interested in protecting their jobs than creating jobs for you,” Hudak said.

In Trenton, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne said her government has invested in education, research and business partnerships to create jobs and boost the economy.

She said Hudak believes there will be more jobs if he fires teachers and cuts back on education.

“I’ve said for months that Tim Hudak’s plan is reckless and would steer Ontario, in fact, out of recovery and back into recession. And now we have proof positive from Tim Hudak himself,” Wynne said.

“Today we learned that Tim Hudak’s job plan is to turn paycheques into pink slips for 100,000 people.”

Randy Robinson, a spokesman for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents tens of thousands of public sector workers, said in an e-mail that Hudak cannot reduce these positions without cutting deeply into health care, school boards, colleges, universities, and child care.

“We’ve known all along that Tim Hudak’s views were extreme, but this is beyond the pale. One hundred thousand jobs is 1.5% of all the jobs in Ontario. Cut that many and you could throw the whole economy into a recession. You can’t grow the economy by cutting jobs,” Robinson said. “I’m sorry. He’s taken leave of his senses.”

CUPE president Fred Hahn said the job cuts would mostly hurt women who earn a modest living.

“What has Tim Hudak got against women?” Hahn said.

Hudak is promising to cut eight times as many jobs as former PC premier Mike Harris put on the chopping block, he said.

The 30% tuition break shaves $1,780 off tuition for university and college degree students and $820 for college diploma or certificate students.

This program is available to most full-time Ontario post-secondary students whose family’s gross income is $160,000 or less.

The seniors Health Homes Renovation Tax Credit is a refundable personal income tax credit for seniors and family members who live with them to claim up to $10,000 of eligible home improvements on tax returns.

The Liberal government initiative refunds 15% of the cost of improving homes up to a maximum of $1,500 to allow seniors to live in them longer.

The Ontario budget released on May 1 shows the province spent $11.3 billion more than it took in last year, and the net debt rose to $270 billion.


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