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TORONTO – Ontarians are worried about the economy, but a majority would not support the Liberal government’s plans to make deep cuts to public services in order to reduce the deficit, according to a poll released today by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. Instead, the public overwhelmingly support increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Voters aren’t buying into it when Liberals say cutting public services is necessary to get Ontario’s books in order. People want alternatives that will let them keep the services they rely on,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, at a press conference this morning in Toronto’s financial district. “But they know we have to pay for services, and that’s why they support targeted new tax measures to raise revenue.”

According to the poll, 90% of Ontarians support a new tax on individuals earning over $500,000 annually, 83% support increasing taxes on banks and the financial industry, 81% support increased corporate taxes, and a plurality of 47% support a new “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions.

I was surprised by the strength of the results,” said Hahn. “I expected these ideas to be popular, but really didn’t expect some of the results to be nearly unanimous. They certainly support the ideas we presented to the Drummond Commission yesterday.” 

Hahn met on Thursday with Don Drummond and his fellow commissioners, members of the commission to review public services and recommend areas to make cuts to programs and spending. The CUPE Ontario President said the commission should push beyond its mandate and look for ways to increase revenues, an idea supported by two-thirds of Ontarians according to the poll. In its submission to the Drummond Commission, CUPE Ontario made four suggestions to increase revenue:

  1. 82% of respondents (86% of Liberal voters) support creating new tax brackets for incomes over $300,000, and 90% (92% of Liberal voters) supported it for incomes over $500,000. We support increasing taxes on these very wealthy groups.
  2. 47% support a “Robin Hood” tax on sales of stocks and bonds. Even at a fraction of one per cent, this would generate significant revenue.
  3. 83% support a tax increase on the banking and financial industry (89% among Liberals). Ontario needs to restore the capital tax on financial institutions.
  4. Altogether, these changes would increase revenue by more than $4 billion a year. That alone would reduce the current provincial deficit by 25%. CUPE Ontario also submitted pages of suggestions that would improve efficientdelivery of public services.

It is a myth that the public sector created our fiscal crises,” said CUPE Economist Toby Sanger. “With household debt at record levels and corporations not investing their profits, we need strong public spending to keep the economy growing.”

Other key findings from the “Saving the Economy Poll”

  • 71% want the government to maintain (47%) or increase (24%) spending on public services and social programs
  • 64% believe corporate tax cuts mean less money for public services or deficit reduction. Only 21% think they stimulate growth
  • 82% support (48% strongly support) a new 10% income surcharge on individuals earning more than $300,000 a year
  • 90% support (78% strongly support) the surcharge for people making over $500,000 a year
  • 69% agree with the central message of the Occupy movement that a small elite hold too much power and money at the expense of “the 99%” majority

The poll of 2000 Ontarians was conducted December 7-9 by Angus Reid Public Opinion and is accurate to within 2.2%, 19 times out of 20.

What Ontario needs is a government that will steer the province toward fiscal recovery. Cutting thousands of jobs will not create that recovery. Billions of dollars in corporate tax cuts certainly didn’t create jobs. Investing in key areas of the public sector, on the other hand, will support families through these tough times and will stimulate the economy,” said Hahn. “Everyone else knows this isn’t the time to make cuts. Now we just need Dalton McGuinty to come to the same realization.”

CUPE Ontario is the province’s largest union, representing more than 230,000 workers in five main sectors: health care, municipalities, school boards, social services and post-secondary education.

For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders
CUPE Communications

  • A media kit with more poll details is available at cupe.on.ca