Skip to main content

Liberal threat to broader public sector remains vague

Last week Dalton McGuinty hinted that he would bring in legislation affecting collective bargaining across the public sector and now the Globe and Mail reports the government "plans to introduce legislation that would freeze wages for all workers who bargain collectively in the public sector."

The government has been reasonably clear that it will legislate if its goals are not met in a given round of collective bargaining, but now they are edging into the idea that the legislation will be across the broader public sector, not just legislation for specific bargaining groups.  

“My sense is we’ll be talking about something that is more holistic in nature, more across the board,” McGuinty said. 

Broader based legislation attacking collective bargaining has long been advocated by Tim Hudak and the PCs.  But up until now, the Liberals have shied away from this, possibly out of concern that such legislation will fall afoul of the constitution.  The advantage of broader based legislation for the Liberals and the PCs is that it will allow them to move pass this ugly period more quickly and give workers fewer opportunities to organize and fight back.

McGuinty however is not yet ruling out more negotiations. 

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan added, "the government will not attempt to re-open any agreements, but employees may be forced to forego future wage increases... If somebody in an agreement didn’t follow the government’s instructions in my July letter, we may not make it retroactive but we may make it apply to the next round of bargaining.”

“We have to be fair,” Mr. Duncan said. “We have to treat people equally across the broader public sectors."

It's not clear if the government will try to impose concessions comparable to those imposed on school board workers, or if it will look to other freely negotiated provincial settlements.  

(The government has tried to label the contract concessions it is imposing on school board workers a 'wage freeze' and the business-owned media has often gone along with that framing of the concessions, so a Liberal / PC 'wage freeze' may well mean concessions.)

For her part, NDP leader Andrea Horwath told the Globe, “Mere weeks ago the government denounced a Conservative plan for an ‘unconstitutional wage scheme’ that would ‘cost families billions
’.  I just want to know when the Premier changed his mind."

The PCs have joined with the Liberals in imposing legislation on teachers and school board workers, so they may well come together for future legislation as well.  


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…