Skip to main content

Ontario loses 75,000 FT jobs. But who cares?

Last week, the government announced that it would renege on its election funding promises. Now Dwight Duncan is making more noises about what this may mean. Here's some of his comments to the Toronto Star:

The Ontario government faces "very difficult choices" as it moves to limit spending increases to just 1 per cent, warns Finance Minister Dwight Duncan. ... Duncan said his fall economic statement the week after next would signal the belt-tightening that looms ahead as the Liberals strive to eliminate the deficit. "Traditionally, fall economic statements are about updating the numbers for the last budget. We're going to do that, but more importantly we're going to start to lay the path towards the next budget and the sorts of decisions that we are going to need to take in order to stay on target for our balanced budget (in 2017-18)," he said."Those inevitably will involve some very difficult choices."

 Duncan told a business reporter of the Globe and Mail "This will be a long period of restraint. My view continues to be that there will be a lot of difficult choices," while indicating that revenues would fall short due to reduced growth.  Clearly, the government's  fall economic statement later this month is going to be something to watch this time round.

With this, we are now hearing all sorts of advice on the new situation. Tory leader Tim Hudak wants a wage freeze, changes to the interest arbitration system for essential workers, and to "rein in the size and the cost of government" ; the former head of the Champlain LHIN is calling for more regionalization of health care; and the Globe & Mail now says "Everything is on the table, including the possibility of letting the private sector deliver some health-care services." (If so, this is also contrary to earlier Liberal promises.)

In the first eight years of the Liberal government funding increased a little over 7% per year, on average. The government had planned to move to 1.8% increases, but now plans six years of 1% increases.

Austerity has helped drive Europe into higher unemployment and economic crisis and it may well do the same here.  While there is little sign of the alternative  -- a public sector jobs and growth strategy --  in Ontario or elsewhere, it is apparent that even some conservative economists are concerned about the impact of public sector austerity on jobs, growth, the economy, and debt.

Ontario lost 75,400 full time jobs last month.  Just under 38,000 people joined the unemployed, officially.  This pushed the (official) unemployment rate to 8.1%, a half percentage point higher than the previous month, and leaving Ontario with an unemployment rate well above the national average.   

But the McGuinty government is focused on cuts instead - cuts that will drive unemployment.  And the official opposition is even less focused on jobs, with Tim Hudak making clear he will prop up the government if it implements cuts. 

For now working people (and public services) are going to be made to pay the price, it seems.  A deepening economic crisis may, however, bring new approaches to the fore.


Popular posts from this blog

Public sector employment in Ontario is far below the rest of Canada

The suggestion that Ontario has a deficit because its public sector is too large does not bear scrutiny. Consider the following. 

Public sector employment has fallen in the last three quarters in Ontario.  Since 2011, public sector employment has been pretty flat, with employment up less than 4 tenths of one percent in the first half of 2015 compared with the first half of 2011.

This contrasts with public sector employment outside of Ontario which has gone up pretty consistently and is now 4.7% higher than it was in the first half of 2011.

Private sector employment has also gone up consistently over that period. In Ontario, it has increased 4.3% since the first half of 2011, while in Canada as a whole it has increased 4.9%.

As a result, public sector employment in Ontario is now shrinking as a percentage of the private sector workforce.  In contrast, in the rest of Canada, it is increasing. Moreover, public sector employment is muchhigher in the rest of Canada than in Ontario.  Indeed as…

The long series of failures of private clinics in Ontario

For many years, OCHU/CUPE has been concerned the Ontario government would transfer public hospital surgeries, procedures and diagnostic tests to private clinics. CUPE began campaigning in earnest against this possibility in the spring of 2007 with a tour of the province by former British Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, who talked about the disastrous British experience with private surgical clinics.

The door opened years ago with the introduction of fee-for-service hospital funding (sometimes called Quality Based Funding). Then in the fall of 2013 the government announced regulatory changes to facilitate this privatization. The government announced Request for Proposals for the summer of 2014 to expand the role of "Independent Health Facilities" (IHFs). 

With mass campaigns to stop the private clinic expansion by the Ontario Health Coalition the process slowed.  

But it seems the provincial Liberal government continues to push the idea.  Following a recent second OCHU tour wi…

Hospital worker sick leave: too much or too little?

Ontario hospital workers are muchless absent due to illness or disability than hospital workers Canada-wide.  In 2014, Ontario hospital workers were absent 10.2 days due to illness or disability, 2.9 days less than the Canada wide average – i.e. 22% less.  In fact, Ontario hospital workers have had consistently fewer sick days for years.

This is also true if absences due to family or personal responsibilities are included.
Statistics Canada data for the last fifteen years for Canada and Ontario are reported in the chart below, showing Ontario hospital workers are consistently off work less.
Assuming, Ontario accounts for about 38% of the Canada-wide hospital workforce, these figures suggest that the days lost due to illness of injury in Canada excluding Ontario are about 13.6 days per year ([13.6 x 0.68] + [10.2 x 0.38] = 13.1).

In other words, hospital workers in the rest of Canada are absent from work due to illness or disability 1/3 more than Ontario hospital workers. 

In fact, Canad…