THUNDER BAY – Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak says, “It’s not what’s ‘left’ or what’s ‘right’. It’s what works. Ontario can begin digging itself out of a deep hole and climb toward a new era of sustainable front-line programs like health care and education, but first its government must stop dithering about a mandatory, across-the-board wage freeze to rein in its single biggest budget expenditure – public sector compensation”.
Hudak’s comments follow torrent of contradictory statements from the Premier and others on this defining issue in recent days: “They’ve said it’s a bad idea, and the right thing to do,” Hudak noted. “It’s constitutional, and it’s unconstitutional. It respects collective bargaining, and it doesn’t. It will work, and it won’t, it will save money, and it will cost money.
“The Premier must state what he intends to do,” Hudak said, adding he thought that with the teachers’ bill, the government had started to grasp that endless bargaining would never work.
“The real problem is that this government has actually declared that it has no plan: The Premier and others have acknowledged they’ll be pushed where the wind blows them – ‘veering’ both left and right. No wonder Ontarians want them pulled over for reckless governing.”
It’s why the government has been wringing its hands over the issue for more than two years, Hudak said, blustering about wage freezes through successive budgets and three credit downgrades – while constantly caving to its former union allies when its appeal for “voluntary” wage restraint was laughed off the table.
“And now comes MPAC, which last December won an 8.4 per cent wage increase, only to get caught throwing itself a party on the heels of 55,000 private sector job losses last month.
“Our last, best hope for putting a lid on spiralling public sector salaries comes within weeks, in a Fall Economic Statement. We call on the government to commit to a mandatory wage freeze for teachers, firefighters, doctors, MPPs – all of us – by the fall of 2012. Such an approach, as we have said all along, is fair and effective, and will save taxpayers $2 billion annually.