Employment Numbers Generate Political Fireworks

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Queen's Park
Queen's Park building seat of the Ontario Provincial Government. The Ontario Legislative Building which houses the viceregal suite of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and offices for members of the provincial parliament

QUEENS PARK – “Ontario has all the elements to thrive in today’s economy — a balanced budget, a highly skilled workforce, a vibrant innovation ecosystem and a streamlined business climate. Our economy continues to perform extremely well, but we know there is more work to do. We will continue our efforts to make Ontario’s economy more globally competitive and create good jobs,” says Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth.

Ontario’s unemployment rate was 5.8 per cent in April – the lowest it has been since 2001 according to the Ontario Government. The stats released today show that the unemployment rate fell by 0.6 per cent, from 6.4 per cent in March. Compared with a year ago, employment in Ontario is up by 87,000 jobs, or 1.2 per cent.

The seemingly positive numbers are however drawing fire from the Progressive Conservatives and New Democrats.

“Last month, Ontario lost 13,800 full-time jobs while adding just 12,300 part-time jobs. At the same time, the public sector continues to grow, this month adding 11,400 jobs while our vital private sector took another big hit, losing 25,500 good, well-paying jobs,” said McNaughton. “April also saw Ontario’s important manufacturing sector suffer further losses, dropping 4,100 key manufacturing jobs.”

McNaughton pointed to Ontario’s sluggish wage growth as proof that not all is right with the provincial economy. Between 2001 and 2015 Ontario lagged the rest of Canada in wage growth by nearly 5%. A recent report by Bloomberg News cited that, “Ontario is the major source of wage sluggishness, with pay increases of 0.2 per cent year-over-year.”

“When you have such lackluster wage growth like we do here in Ontario, and combine it with the rapidly rising cost of living under the this government, including over $100 million in new fees and government surcharges hidden in the recent budget, it’s no wonder 46,800 decided to leave the workforce and in many cases give up looking for work entirely,” said McNaughton.

Wages are down and Ontario had 13,800 fewer full-time jobs in April compared to just one month earlier, according to the newest labour force survey data from Statistics Canada.

The New Democrats say, with about 12,000 less secure, part-time jobs created, the numbers paint a picture of Ontario being driven into a lower-wage economy at the same time as the cost of living is skyrocketing.

“The cost of living – from hydro to housing and child care – is way up, but the number of good, stable jobs are down,” said the NDP’s critic for employment, Catherine Fife. “For young people trying to break into their career, the search is getting harder and harder. As a result, too many young people are struggling to move out on their own. Couples are even putting off starting their family. People are really reaching their tipping point with Premier Kathleen Wynne continuing to do damage.”

Median weekly wages were down across the board in April. Ontarians earned $16.27 less per week compared to just a month earlier – a hit that’s aggravated by the growing cost of living families are facing.

It was full-time earnings that took the biggest hit, down $24 a week on average compared to just a month earlier, and down more than $31 per week compared to a year ago.

Regions that shed full time jobs included Ottawa (down 3,200 jobs in April); Oshawa (down another 1,000 jobs in April, and down 5,600 jobs for the year); St. Catharines and the Niagara region (lost 1,400 jobs in April, bringing the loss to 4,300 jobs for the year and 2000 jobs since Wynne took office); Windsor (lost 1,400 jobs in April, down 2,800 jobs for the year); and Sudbury (down 800 jobs in April, making the annual loss more than 1,000 jobs).

“Wynne is busy looking out for herself, her political party and her friends in high places,” added Fife. “Ontario needs a premier that prioritizes working people, middle-class families and those struggling to build a good life here. The economy for those families is moving in the wrong direction, and we need a government that will turn things around before it’s too late.”

Over the last three years, Ontario’s real GDP growth has outpaced all G7 countries, supported by the government’s strategic investments. Exports and business investments are increasing and the unemployment rate continues to decline.

As a leader in economic growth, the Province is balancing the budget this year and maintaining a balanced budget for the next two years. A balanced budget means more funding for the programs and services people rely on most.

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