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

Health care funding falls, again

Real provincial government health care funding per-person has fallen again this year in Ontario, the third year in a row.  Since 2009 real funding per-person has fallen 2.6% -- $63 per person. 

Across Canada real per person funding is in its fourth consecutive year of increase. Since 2009, real provincial funding across Canada is up $89 -- 3.6%.
In fact the funding gap between Ontario and Canada as a whole has gown consistently for years (as set out below in current dollars).

Ontario funds health care less than any other province -- indeed, the province that funds health care the second least (B.C.) provides $185 more per person per year, 4.7% more.  
Provincial health care spending in the rest of Canada (excluding Ontario) is now  $574 higher per person annually than in Ontario. 

 Ontario has not always provided lower than average health care funding increases-- but that has been the general pattern since 2005.
Private expenditures on health care have exceeded Ontario government increases …

Ontario long-term care staffing falls far short of other provinces

CUPE and others are campaigning for a legislated minimum average of four worked hours of nursing and personal care per resident per day in long-term care (LTC) facilities.  New research indicates that not only is LTC underfunded in Ontario, it is also understaffed compared to the other provinces. 
LTC staffing falls short:  The latest data published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (and based on a mandatory survey undertaken by Statistics Canada) indicates that staffing at long-term care (LTC) facilities falls far short of other provinces. 
Part of this is driven by a low level of provincial funding for LTC.

Ontario has 0.575 health care full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) per bed staffed and in operation.[1]  The rest of Canada reports 0.665 health care FTEs.[2] The rest of Canada has 15.7% more health care staff per bed staffed and in operation than Ontario.[3] 

No other province reports fewer LTC health care staff per resident (or per bed) than Ontario.[4]

Occupancy r…

More spending on new hospitals and new beds? Nope

Hospital funding:  There is something off about the provincial government's Budget claims on hospital capital funding (funding to build and renovate hospital beds and facilities).   

For what it is worth (which is not that much, given the long time frame the government cites), the province claims it will increase hospital capital spending over the next 10 years from $11 billion to $20 billion – or on average to about $2 billion per year.  But, this is just a notional increase from the previous announcement of future hospital capital spending. 

Moreover, even if we did take this as a serious promise and not just a wisp of smoke, the government's own reports shows they have actually funded hospital infrastructure about $3 billion a year over the 2011/12-2015/16 period.

So this “increase” is really a decrease from past actual spending. Even last year's (2016-17) hospital capital funding increase was reported in this Budget at $2.3 billion - i.e. about 15% more than they have ann…