Job Losses Likely; All options are on the table: Finance Minister
The gathering storm could engulf Ontario’s 1.2 million public-sector employees as municipalities, hospitals, school boards, colleges and universities brace for provincial cuts that could trigger local austerity measures, and set workers on a collision course with their employers.
Ontario’s 24 community colleges are now in a tug-of-war with the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which has rejected a three-year, 5.9 per cent pay increase. About 9,000 college teachers and ancillary workers have given OPSEU a strike mandate, and the teachers could hit the picket lines next month.
In the early 1990s when Jean Chretien’s Liberals faced a large deficit, they cut programs and reduced the federal public service by about 55,000 employees, many through attrition.
About the same time in Ontario, Mr. Rae forced public-sector workers to take 12 days of unpaid time off to avoid cutting 40,000 jobs.
His party suffered and he still carries the scars, even though he is now a federal Liberal MP.
His Tory successor Mike Harris’ approach, which was met with a rash of strikes, was no-holds-barred funding cuts to everything from education to welfare, transit and municipal transfers.