Skip to main content

Why the PCs think Mike Harris is a big-government union-lover
















Many used to contrast the hard right policies of the former Mike Harris Progressive Conservative government with the milder PC policies of Bill Davis and the Big Blue Machine.  But Tim Hudak's PCs go much further.  Here's three examples.

[1] The PCs say they will cut spending on programs by $7.6 billion to $111.8 billion.  The Mike Harris PC government increased public sector spending in its first term  -- by their own account 6.2%. In their second go round, the Harris / Eves government increased funding much more  -- 14%.  

But Hudak's latest policies contrast even with the Hudak PC plan rolled out in the last election campaign in 2011. Then, Hudak and the PCs planned to increase program spending from $113.8 billion to $117.5 billion. That's a very modest increase of 3.25% over four years.  But it's quite different from their new proposal to cut spending sharply and to reduce provincial spending to $111.8 billion.    

This radical shift in PC policy occurred despite the fact that budget deficits shrank much more quickly than planned in 2011. Here's the plan from the 2011 Budget, not long before the 2011 election:
Ontario Budget
Source: 2011 Provincial Budget
Now we know that in 2011/12 the deficit was actually $3.3 billion less than planned, in 2012/13 it was $6 billion less than planned, and in 2013/14 the deficit was $2 billion less.  

So over just three years, the deficits were $11.3 billion less than planned. 

One might think that $11.3 billion might encourage the PCs to at least keep their previous funding promise.  But, instead, the PCs have decided that not only do they have to renege on their former funding plan but that they actually have to cut spending sharply. 

If we imagine for a moment that this new policy shift is correct, we then also have to conclude that Hudak and Co. got it very, very wrong in their last set of election promises. That doesn't exactly raise confidence in Hudak's judgement.

Another explanation might be that Hudak and the PCs are just bouncing from one funding policy to another, without much reason or even rhyme.

Policy Contagion to the Liberals? The PCs say the $7.6 billion cut they propose is a 6% reduction in program spending. In fact, here as elsewhere, their math is a little off -- it is really a 6.4% cut. Moreover, given the PC claim they will protect certain areas from cuts, the other non-protected areas will have to be cut proportionately more than 6.4% to make up the difference.

As you might expect from a pre-election Budget, the Liberal's proposed to increase funding this year a little more quickly than they had in the immediate past: a 2.5% increase  in program spending compared to a 1.1% increase in their previous Budget.  Neither increase will offset population growth and inflation.

But the story gets much worse in the years ahead, according to the Liberal Budget. For 2015/16 public spending would increase only 0.6% , and the year after that, less than 0.1%.  For 2017/18, they plan an absolute cut in program spending of 0.7% , to bring program spending back to this year’s proposed level ($119.4 B).  While this is $7.6 billion more than the PCs now promise, it is not much more than the PC plan in the last election.

Ontario already has the lowest per capita public spending of any province. These plans are going to put Ontario further behind.
   
[2] Another radical step from the PC platform concerns their claim on interest arbitration, the system used to settle collective bargaining disputes for public sector essential service workers, like hospital workers: 
"The public shouldn’t have to pay a premium for every government job, though the arbitration rules we have now pretty much guarantee it." 
In fact the previous PC government of Mike Harris (which was, in fact, renown for its anti-worker policies) re-wrote the interest arbitration rules to favour employers. But, if you took their policy platform seriously,  Hudak and the PCs now must see Mike Harris PC government as a faithful tool of the unions that guaranteed premium wages for public sector workers!

[3] The Hudak PCs also promise to impose their wage bargaining demand on public sector workers -- And if the unions don't get on board with this, the PCs will impose it by legislation.  The PCs simply set aside free collective bargaining and dismiss worker rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mike Harris was a hard bargainer, and he did fight unions.  But he did not over-ride free collective bargaining for all public sector workers.  Hudak is planning to attack the very core of trade union rights.

Comments

Post a Comment

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…