Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

February 16, 2012 17:13 ET

McGuinty government using Drummond "shock doctrine" as cover for historic service cuts

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 16, 2012) - Average Ontarians will pay the price for Don Drummond's radical austerity agenda if the McGuinty government implements his recommendations in next month's budget, says Fred Hahn, President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

"It is hard to believe the McGuinty government takes the vast majority of these recommendations seriously," said Hahn. "If they do, they are clearly deviating from their campaign platform, and are going to make average Ontarians pay for a banker's ideas with drastic cuts to public services and a host of new user fees."

The Drummond Report seems to exist to create fear and prepare the public for deeper cuts than Ontario saw under the Mike Harris government.

"It exists to provide cover for a McGuinty austerity agenda that will do nothing to create jobs or grow Ontario's economy," says Hahn.

Yesterday's release of the Report by the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services, headed by former TD Bank economist Don Drummond, sent shockwaves across the province. Built on an intentionally pessimistic economic outlook, it contains more than 360 recommendations for radical cuts and privatization of public services.

"We saw a very similar report in Toronto last year," said Hahn. "It was a strategy of fear-mongering to achieve an ideological agenda. It seems McGuinty is taking a page from Ford's playbook. And that's too bad, because what Ontario really needs is a plan for jobs, economic growth and a sensible look at revenue generation that doesn't target people's already stretched household budgets."

Drummond told CUPE Ontario in December that McGuinty's mandate for the commission precluded any examination of sensible and widely supported ideas for revenue generation, such as rolling back corporate and bank tax breaks. Despite that restriction, yesterday's report does recommend hiking hydro rates, water rates and even user fees for school buses.

"If Drummond couldn't consider ideas like taxing corporations and banks, why does his report include taking more money from the pockets of average Ontarians through more user fees?" asked Hahn. "It seems like the whole report is an ironic call by one of Canada's top bankers to make everyone but the rich pay."

CUPE Ontario is the province's largest union. It represents more than 230,000 workers in five main sectors: health care, school boards, municipalities, social services and universities.

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