Skip to main content

Liberal problems come from their turn to the right

As two Liberals on the (presumed) left of the party declare their intention to run for the leadership, it bears recalling that almost all of the major problems the Liberals have faced in the last few years have come from attempts to re-position the party to the right.

First, Premier McGuinty (and  departing Finance Minister Dwight Duncan) supported moves to privatize public services. This led to a series of failures and scandals that angered the public:
Mississauga gas plant
  • Overpaid private contractors at eHealth; 
  • Scandalous, hidden extra costs at the Brampton "public private partnership" (P3) hospital; 
  • Bloated salaries, highly dubious corporate payments, and limited public oversight enabled at ORNGE by privatization;  and
  • A massive corporate payout after the Liberals opened up energy production to for-profit corporations
Indeed, the Globe reports that the corporation that won the  now infamous Mississauga gas plant project (cancelled at great expense during the last election) was actually in the process of suing Ontario Hydro when it won the bid. The corporation eventually took $10 million from the government for this lawsuit. (But what's that between friends?)

Moreover this corporation paid an incredible 14% interest for construction cost loans for the plant. Capital costs are a major expense in construction projects and this is much, much more than the cost of capital for a public project (over the summer the government was able to borrow at a rate of 1.65% for seven year bonds).  While P3 capital costs are always very pricey, this is a whole new level.

Luckily (for the corporation, not the public) the government kindly agreed to boost their guaranteed revenue by 50%!

At that rate, perhaps it was a bargain to pay hundreds of millions to kill the deal.

It was also a turn to the right when McGuinty and Duncan attacked free collective bargaining in August.  The Liberals were, in effect, tearing up their brand as the party of social consensus.

Notably, this was immediately followed by a sharp fall in the polls for the Liberals as teachers and other labour groups began to return fire over the loss of a core civil right won over decades of struggle.  Shortly, the exit of McGuinty and Duncan followed too.

Will we see any re-thinking by the Liberal leadership candidates of this right wing direction?  There is little sign of it yet.  But time will tell.

Comments

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…