Liberals Continue to Do Nothing to Confront Jobs and Spending Crisis
(March 18, 2013) It’s been four weeks since the Legislature has been back in session and not a single Liberal Bill has been introduced to confront the fiscal challenges we face. In fact, on the contrary, the Wynne Liberals have repealed the only cost saving wage freeze legislation that their government tabled in over nine years. With the Liberals refusing to take the lead to address our fiscal challenges, Ontario Progressive Conservatives have been working hard to introduce legislation that will strengthen our economy and steer our province onto safer ground.
One course of action is the introduction of legislation to make hydro bills more affordable. Energy prices have gone from being an economic strength for this province to the highest rates in North America and driving away jobs. My colleague, Lisa Thompson, will soon table legislation to repeal the Feed-In Tariff Program that is responsible for increases to hydro bills by awarding often foreign wind and solar energy developers up to fifteen times the average price of hydro.
Another important measure that we aim to address is the modernization the journeymen to apprentice ratio. Despite Ontario’s job crisis, we actually have a skilled labour shortage in the province that is being perpetuated by businesses having to employ three, four or even five journeymen to train a single apprentice. My colleague, Garfield Dunlop, will soon introduce legislation to change the journeymen to apprentice ratio to one-to-one. This simple reform will create over 200,000 new skilled trades jobs in our struggling economy.
We are also pushing to stop unsustainable growth in spending on public sector salaries that currently consume half of Ontario’s entire $120 billion budget. Peter Shurman’s bill, Broader Public Sector Wage Freeze Act, 2013 has passed second reading and once enacted will institute an across the board public sector wage freeze that will instantly save Ontario $2 billion every year.
We also have put forward a bill that will put an end to public sector benefits that don’t exist in the private sector. John O’Toole‘s legislation, Sick Days Are For Sick People Act will stop new employees from banking sick days to receive lump sum payments when they retire. These sick days are costing Ontarians a pretty penny and with a $12 billion deficit this is something that we can’t afford.
Fixing the broken arbitration system is also a must. The current mechanism handcuffs municipal councils and costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in excessive wage settlements. Forcing arbitrators to consider the ability of the taxpayer to pay would be a significant step in the right direction. My new bill, Capacity to Pay Act will ensure that salary and benefit awards are reflective of local economic circumstances.
Another measure we think is imperative is to make the government more accountable and to lead by example when it comes to fiscal responsibility. Rob Leone’s new legislation, Living Within Your Means Act will limit future government spending to growth in the economy. If there is a deficit after 2017-2018, salaries of government Cabinet members will be reduced by 25 percent in the first year and 50 percent in the second year. We believe if cabinet members don’t do their job they shouldn’t be compensated for it.
These are some of the many balanced, responsible and effective ways the Ontario PC Party plans to get Ontario back on a sustainable track. With the biggest jobs and spending crisis of our lifetimes in front of us, it’s obvious that the time for action to restore a sense of confidence in our economy is well overdue.
Constituents who have their own ideas to address the jobs crisis or the state of the economy are encouraged to contact me through my website at www.jimwilsonmpp.com . I welcome your input.