TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 25, 2013) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) released a discussion paper today calling for a change in the conversation on austerity and an Ontario Budget that focuses on economic growth and help for struggling families.
The OFL also announced the launch of an unprecedented, province-wide community consultation on the next provincial budget. The People's Budget campaign is visiting nine cities across the province and inviting Ontarians to share their ideas for a new approach to addressing our economic, social, and fiscal challenges in person or online at www.thepeoplesbudget.ca.
"The evidence is clear, austerity budgets do not support job creation and only leads to greater income inequality," said Sid Ryan, President of the OFL. "The next provincial budget presents an opportunity for Ontario to choose a new path, one that will focus on good jobs, sustainable public services, and a fairer society."
The People's Budget campaign has already attracted prominent support. Alex Himelfarb, the Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs and a former Clerk of the Privy Council has been highly critical of a public policy focus so confined to the limits of austerity. He sees the People's Budget campaign has a potential turning point.
"Ontarians and Canadians have been told by their governments that austerity is the only option," said Mr. Himelfarb. "That is just not true. The current drive for austerity is based on false assumptions. Unless a new course is chosen, this agenda will continue to have devastating consequences for economies and citizens. The OFL is offering a chance for citizens to chart a different course."
The OFL's green paper, Toward a People's Budget, challenges several myths, including:
- the government can no longer afford to deliver the same level of services to Ontarians
- cutting the deficit will grow the economy
- the experts are never wrong
- everyone is being asked to do their share to reduce the deficit
In reality, as the paper points out, Ontario provides less funding for public programs and services than any other province in Canada; our poverty rates are rising faster than almost every other province; the government has forgone $15 billion in tax revenues that have benefited wealthy Ontarians and corporations the most with little evidence such largesse has delivered on their promise of growth and jobs; and deep cuts in the 2012 Budget have made life more difficult for many hard working Ontarians, including those most in need. The evidence makes clear that austerity budgets only worsen social conditions while seriously undermining the economy, contributing to the very deficit problem the agenda purports to resolve.
Nor is the OFL alone in questioning the wisdom of austerity agendas being pursued with much vigour by governments across the western world. Recently, the International Monetary Fund issued an unprecedented mea culpa, admitting that the negative impact of austerity on economic growth is much greater than what they anticipated.
The paper goes on to consider the possibilities that arise once governments move beyond austerity, including specific ideas to spur growth and job creation, address income inequality, preserve public services, and restore fair taxation.
Further exploration of these ideas, along with feedback from OFL's community and online consultation, will inform a white paper to be developed and shared with the Ontario Government prior to the introduction of a new provincial budget.
"We invite anyone with an interest in the provincial budget and wants to see things done differently to participate in the People's Budget campaign," said Mr. Ryan. "It is time for a budget that reflects the ideas and hopes of hard working Ontarians, a budget that puts people first."
Schedule of community consultations
- Brampton - Century Gardens Arena, 340 Vodden St. E.; February 25, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
- Ottawa - Champlain Room, Ottawa City Hall, 111 Laurier Ave. E.; February 26, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
- Sudbury - St. Andrews Place, 4th Floor, 111 Larch St.; March 6, 6:30 to 9:00 pm
- Thunder Bay - Thunder Bay 55 Plus Centre, 700 River St.; March 7, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
- Kitchener-Waterloo - Kitchener City Hall, 200 King St. W.; March 11, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
- London - Tolpuddle Co-operative, 380 Adelaide St. N.; March 19, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
- Toronto - TBD; March 20, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
- Hamilton - TBD; March 26, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
- Windsor - Giovanni Caboto Club, 2175 Parent Ave.; March 28, 7:00 to 9:00 pm
About the Ontario Federation of Labour
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour and follow OFL President Sid Ryan at @SidRyan_OFL.