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Ontario needs a jobs budget

In a meeting today between Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and the leaders of Ontario’s fifteen largest private and public sector unions, representing over one million workers, the Ontario labour movement delivered a clear and unified message on behalf of Ontario’s working families: Ontario needs a “jobs budget”.
The pre-budget consultation meeting, which was spearheaded by Ontario Federation of Labour president Sid Ryan, was an important opportunity for leaders of both private and public sector unions to articulate their key priorities for the upcoming provincial budget:
1) support for private sector labour markets by facilitating the creation of good, green jobs;
2) maintenance of the important public sector jobs and services which have provided a bulwark against the recession;
3) providing support for employment through training, retraining and support for child care;
4) avoid exacerbating the deficit by rethinking cuts to the corporate income tax rate; and,
5) providing support for precariously employed workers in their struggle to secure good jobs.
Ryan characterized the meeting as a very productive consultation which provided both labour and government the opportunity for a frank exchange of ideas and concerns around the upcoming budget.
“We are confident that Minister Duncan heard our call for a jobs budget loud and clear. Both public sector and private sector unions were absolutely clear that if jobs created in the private sector are accompanied by public sector job cuts, the net gain for working Ontarians is zero. We will not be pitted against one another.” says Ryan. “And we also found that we had a lot of shared priorities and common ground with the government. I think it’s fair to say that no one at that table today believes that Harris-era public sector slash and burn tactics are the solution to the economic and social woes of Ontario. At the same time, everyone seemed on board with the notion that the best and most productive way to shrink the deficit was through steady creation of good jobs that rebuild the tax base and shrink the need for social assistance to unemployed Ontarions who have exhausted their Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.”
Labour leaders and the provincial government both seized on the opportunity to expand and enrich the dialogue fostered by this meeting and arranged for further consultations on the economy and other matters such as retraining and improvements to workplace health and safety. In addition, it was agreed that all present would commit to regular quarterly meetings to keep the dialogue moving forward.
“As Minister Duncan said, ‘There are no quick fixes here’,” says Ryan. “We’re all in this for the long run. There will undoubtedly be times where we disagree, perhaps sharply, and we’ll deal with those situations as they occur. But for the good of the province, and working families in our communities, we must always find ways to communicate with government. After all, no one understands the realities of labour markets and the terrible impacts of unemployment better than working people themselves.”