Hudak: Nine Years of Overspending Threatens Chaos for Start of School
17 August 2012
“We’ve been in tough economic times since 2008, and this government still gave teachers a 12.5 per cent pay hike back then.”
- Christina Blizzard, The Toronto Sun, August 17, 2012
QUEEN’S PARK – With three weeks before the start of school the failure of the government’s approach to reining in nine years of reckless overspending now means parents and children have to pay for its bad decisions, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak said today.
“They have known for months that existing contracts, containing unaffordable salary hikes, would expire at the end of August,” Hudak said. “But now, because the government stalled until the 11th hour, parents face a great deal of uncertainty.
“They’re seeing their kids’ education cast into doubt this fall because of a needless crisis the Liberals have created. The only reason for this legislation is because they have run out of money – and out of room to borrow even more. But at least the Premier is now tentatively stepping toward the path I have urged on him for nearly a year.”
Hudak noted that the real problem is that this government has handed the system over to the unions, not the parents, and that it should never have come to this: “None of us wants to derail the school year – or let the unions off the hook. I want to see our kids in school and learning.”
Yet while the draft OECTA bill just puts a lid on a boiling pot of water, deals with just one part of the public sector and avoids the structural change we need, it does stand as the first acknowledgement by this government that we face a serious fiscal crisis, Hudak added.
“So the task now is to review the draft legislation carefully for loopholes that so often mean this government won’t do what it claims it’s doing,” Hudak said: “For example, we’ve seen stark evidence just this week that the government’s so called ‘wage freeze’ leaks like a sieve – with bonuses being handed out to 98% of managers in the public sector simply for showing up. There may be more such trap doors here. We’ll be looking for them before passing judgment.”
Hudak added that the draft legislation is the kind of rushed action that results when you’ve spent nine years throwing money at everything that moves. “It’s more evidence of how reckless overspending and bad decisions have put the things we value at risk.”
There remains a better way – a mandatory across-the-board wage freeze, Hudak said. “That would have prevented this crisis while helping balance the budget to the tune of $2 billion a year. More important, it would recognize that our highest priority must be to protect our children, their education and their future – in an Ontario that can afford the things they depend on.”