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Ontario public sector employment shrinks

Public sector employment falls in ratio to private sector in Canada

Tim Hudak's Progressive Conservatives like to say that there is "a bloated public sector" in Ontario. "We will need to make do with fewer government employees" they proclaim.

In fact, we already are. The Ontario broader public sector has shrunk by 47,000 workers over the last year, a 3.5% decline. Comparing the first half of last year with the first four months of this year, we are down just under 48,000.

Update: Public Sector Employment July 2015 - Click Here.

The public sector has, it is true, grown a total of 1.7% (22,100 workers), over the last six years.  That however falls well short of both population growth and the growth of the working age population. 



1976
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Canadian population 18-64
14,017,709
21,757,146
22,020,729
22,264,899
22,451,338
22,655,895
22,851,645
23,070,545
Ontario population 18-64
5,077,310
8,392,109
8,470,216
8,564,103
8,642,714
8,722,513
8,783,387
8,861,643
Ontario Employment
March







Public Sector Employment
823,100
1,292,700
1,255,200
1,284,600
1,330,200
1,314,600
1,361,800
1,314,800
Percent of working age population
16.21%
15.40%
14.82%
15.00%
15.39%
15.07%
15.50%
14.84%
Percent of private sector
32.71%
29.58%
29.49%
30.15%
30.64%
29.63%
30.84%
29.05%
Private Sector Employment
2,516,300
4,370,000
4,255,700
4,260,700
4,341,100
4,436,800
4,416,400
4,525,400
Canadian employment
March







Public Sector Employment
2,301,400
3,401,500
3,383,200
3,481,700
3,559,200
3,586,700
3,621,300
3,625,600
Percent of working age population
16.42%
15.63%
15.36%
15.64%
15.85%
15.83%
15.85%
15.72%
Percent of private sector
36.90%
30.77%
31.42%
32.34%
32.35%
32.02%
32.06%
31.52%
Private Sector Employment
6,236,300
11,054,700
10,769,000
10,767,400
11,002,500
11,200,000
11,296,900
11,502,900
 Source: Statistics Canada  CANSIM charts 051-0001 and 282-0089.  Note: 2014 population estimates based on five year average increase.

Across Canada, public sector employment has done better, increasing 6.6% over the six years, almost matching population growth and increasing from 15.63% of the working age population to 15.72%.

In contrast, in Ontario public sector employment has dropped sharply from 15.40% to 14.84% of the working age population. We are now a fair ways back of the Canadian average. 

If Ontario had the same percentage of the working age population employed in the public sector as Canada has, there would be an additional 78,250 people employed in the public sector in Ontario.


With the relentless attack on public services over the last several decades, the public sector has shrunk very significantly as a percentage of the working age population.  If Ontario matched its 1976 percentage, we would have another 121,672 public sector jobs.  

Indeed, if public sector employment in Ontario matched its percentage of private sector employment in 1976, we would have an additional 165,458 public sector jobs. 

Likewise, public sector employment in Ontario has fallen as a percentage of total employment: from 22.08% in  March 1976 to 19.41% in March 2008 and now 19.05% in March 2014.  If we had kept at the 1976 level, we would have 209,228 extra public sector jobs.

All of this makes a nonsense of the claim by Tim Hudak's PCs that the public sector in Ontario is "bloated". In fact public services are being provided with relatively less human resources than in the past or than in other provinces.  Indeed, given that Ottawa, the Canadian capital, is located in Ontario, one would expect that Ontario would have more than the Canadian average.  


Instead the opposite is true: Ontario public sector employment has long lagged behind the rest of Canada -- and it is falling further behind.
  

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