TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 1, 2014) - Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Sid Ryan acknowledges gains for working people in the most progressive budget this province has seen in recent years, but warns that a course correction is still needed away from austerity.
"Ontarians are frustrated with a government that, in the face of stagnating wages, high unemployment and lackluster economic growth, has failed to make the decisions needed to lift all workers, advance equality and spur economic growth," said Ryan. "What this budget shows is that the Liberal government is beginning to hear these frustrations."
Some advances in today's budget include wage increases for personal support and childcare workers - some of the lowest paid public sector workers. While inadequate to address the lack of investment in childcare and homecare, it is an important step towards valuing work done predominantly by women in these crucial sectors. Additionally, over 10 years, this budget commits $130 billion for public infrastructure, including $29 billion for public transit, and a $2.5 billion fund to help attract jobs to Ontario, which could be effective if awarded with the right strings attached.
In a bold move, the Liberal government has also responded to labour's long-time demands for retirement security by stepping in to fill the void created by the federal government's refusal to expand the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). The mandatory Ontario Retirement Pension Plan builds on key features of the CPP and would be a historic gain for millions of Ontarians without a workplace pension. Continued consultation with the labour movement regarding implementation details will be essential.
Further, after austerity has bestowed years of tax cuts on corporations, this budget still does not force corporations to pony up and pay their fair share, but it does take a positive step towards fair taxation by putting in place an income tax increase for Ontarians earning $150,000 and up.
"We know from recent polls that the majority of Ontarians do not want an election. If the writ is dropped, we are likely to come out in a similar minority government situation, or worse - we could be facing a Hudak government," said Sid Ryan. "What's the rush? We have an opportunity here to make real social and economic gains for all Ontarians."
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.