Skip to main content

Government: "collective bargaining is achieving results & protecting services"

Yesterday I noted that the Liberal Budget plainly states that they are planning many more years of austerity.  So how does it see collective bargaining with public employees? And, moreover, public sector pensions?  

Collective Bargaining: The government claims that provincial public sector agreements are much lower than other sectors –i.e. private sector settlements, municipal settlements, and federal public sector settlements:

Indeed, the government headlines the claim “Bargaining Is Achieving Results and Protecting Services”.
The government does not say it will try to dictate results in collective bargaining (as the previous McGuinty/Duncan government tried to do), but proposes that compensation settlements should fit "within Ontario's existing fiscal framework" and suggests that productivity improvements could be one way to achieve fiscal and service delivery goals:
Going forward, compensation costs must be addressed within Ontario's existing fiscal framework, which includes no funding for incremental compensation increases for new collective agreements. The government is confident that broader public sector partners can work together to achieve outcomes that remain within the fiscal plan while protecting services. In future rounds of bargaining, the government is willing to work with employers and bargaining agents to look at mechanisms such as productivity improvements as a way to achieve fiscal and service-delivery goals. (My emphasis.)
Aside from wages, the government also claims to have achieved huge reductions in pension expenses for employees in the broader provincial public sector.

The government claims, extraordinarily, that their pension expenses will fall dramatically.

Projected Pension Expense

Current Forecast
2012 Budget Forecast

Difference in Forecast

Drummond Commission
Difference in Forecast
Note: Numbers may not add due to rounding. Source 2013 Budget Table 1.3 and 2012 Budget Table 4.5

That's $500 million savings in 2014-15 over this year’s pension expense and $700 million a year in the following years. At $700 million that is an incredible 22.6% reduction in their pension expense compared with 2013-14. Indeed, compared to the pension expense they forecast in last year’s Budget ($3.6 billion in 2013-14), the annual savings by 2015-16 would be $1.2 billion. That would be a 33% reduction on a $3.6 billion expense.

If the government’s figures are meaningful, even a $700 million savings would mean the government has saved about 1% in compensation costs -- before collective bargaining has even begun.

The Budget document also compares the current forecast with Don Drummond's even higher forecast of pension expense -- this is the same guy who suggested health care expenditures were headed to 70% of spending when it has actually been heading back down to less than 40% for some years. So -- big surprise -- Dummond's figures are way off here 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…