The Ontario government’s next budget must reject appeals for asset sales and drastic spending cuts in favour of long-term, strategic economic investments to create and preserve jobs.
“You don’t burn the furniture to warm the house,” said Fred Hahn, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario. “Public sector cuts and asset sales won’t create the jobs that are needed to make the economic recovery real for Ontarians and they won’t address the issue of paying down the deficit either.”
While corporate profits have started to rebound, Ontario’s workers saw their income continue to fall throughout 2009 which, in December, saw a loss of more jobs in both the private and public sector.
“Ontario now has the highest unemployment rate in Canada west of the Maritimes. We need more and better jobs, not fewer,” said Hahn. “There is no better way to fight the deficit than job creation.”
Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned governments around the world that slowing stimulus spending too soon could hamper economic recovery. Hahn told the Committee the next provincial budget needs to invest in public services which deliver the strongest economic stimulus per dollar spent.
“There has been a fundamental change in Ontario’s economy and we need a fundamental re-think about how this government is going deal with it,” said Hahn. “Tired old solutions are not what is needed. The people of Ontario need a budget that strengthens the province’s fiscal capacity, creates jobs in both the broader public sector and the private sector, and maintains critical public assets that are important to communities across the province.”
Hahn urged Ontario to bring forward a “green” budget this spring by investing in energy efficiency, public transit, renewable energy and local procurement.
“These kinds of “green” investments will pay off many times over: in rising employment, an improved environment, and in a stronger and more productive economy by increasing our efficiency and competitiveness,” Hahn said.
Fred Hahn became President of CUPE Ontario in December 2009. The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is Ontario’s largest union with over 220,000 members working in hospitals, municipalities, long-term care facilities, social service agencies, schools and universities.
CUPE Ontario’s pre-budget submission can be viewed at: http://www.cupe.on.ca