Ladies and Gentlemen of Ontario:
We are all being distracted. We are being manipulated. We are not being told what we need to know.
Ontario currently has by-elections underway in Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo that will determine whether or not Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals gain a majority government. But that’s not the major issue.
The major issue is that Ontario is facing a budget crisis, soaring debt, and a plummeting credit rating that will devastate Ontario’s economy and impoverish everyone living in the province. Yet neither Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals, nor Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservatives have plan to cut spending, balance the budget, and end the crisis.
That’s because there is no way to resolve Ontario’s budget crisis without ending Ontario’s health insurance monopoly. It’s the elephant in the room. Health costs are soaring while health service rations get ever smaller. The system is falling apart, and doomed attempts to keep it alive are driving massive deficits that threaten our future. But Dalton McGuinty and Tim Hudak know that it would be political suicide for them to tell us that fact. After all, it was the Progressive Conservatives who set up the monopoly, and the Liberals who have been its biggest cheerleader.
So both Dalton McGuinty and Tim Hudak have decided to divert attention away from the health and budget crises. They have decided to change the channel by making big headlines with cynical and manipulative union bashing.
TIM HUDAK’S ATTACK ON UNIONS: THE “RIGHT-TO-WORK” PLAN
Tim Hudak implicitly is bashing unions with his “right-to-work” proposal, which would put a gun of sorts in the hands of employees:
- Employers would be forced by employees into time-consuming negotiations of separate contracts for every individual who did not want to be a union member.
- Employers also would be exposed to the potential expense of wrongful dismissal lawsuits, each costing tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees alone (unionized employees cannot sue their employers for wrongful dismissal).
- Individual contracts with non-union employees would undermine the seniority system that typically protects unionized employees who want collective agreements that give longer-term unionized employees more job security than union members with less time on the job.
- Unions would lose the advantage of mandatory membership/dues.
At present, Ontario’s labour laws put a gun of sorts into the hands of unions. Employers can be forced to deal with a union instead of individuals. Individuals can be prevented from getting a job if they do not join the union and pay dues. Employer’s lose the freedom to hire individuals. Individuals lose the right to sue their employer for wrongful dismissal.
Mr. Hudak’s right-to-work proposal would replace one flawed and unfair system with another. It would amount to little more than having unions hand the gun over to employees. Such a proposal misses the essential point: guns have no place in labour negotiations. Employers, employees, and unions should be free to negotiate the terms of their employment without the government providing any of them with a coercive advantage.
At the root of Mr. Hudak’s right-to-work proposal is an electoral strategy: blame unions for what ails the province so as to justify talk about getting tough on unions. In short: union bashing.
DALTON McGUINTY’S ATTACK ON UNIONS: DEMONIZING TEACHERS
Having been soft on unions for the last nine years, it should come as no surprise that Mr. McGuinty has decided to adopt Mr. Hudak’s strategy. In short: teacher bashing.
Mr. McGuinty has timed voting day in Ontario’s Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan by-elections such that it occurs during the week that children return to school. With advance polls opening this Saturday, August 25th, Mr. McGuinty has called upon MPPs to return to Queens Park on August 27th to vote on legislation that will freeze teacher salaries and prevent teachers from striking. This mid-election emergency is arguably smoke and mirrors: the teachers unions have not threatened to go on strike.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BALL: THE BUDGET DEFICIT AND HEALTH CARE COSTS
It’s not about the unions. It’s about party leaders who lack the will or competence to balance the budget as health care costs continue to consume tax revenues.
Union bashing will not fix the problem of skyrocketing health care expenditures. Union bashing will not balance the budget. Union bashing is a deliberate distraction from the fact that neither the Liberals nor the Progressive Conservatives are willing even to talk about what needs to be done to balance the budget.
The Liberals and Progressive Conservatives owe us all an explanation of exactly what they will cut – and by how much – in order to balance the budget now. Saying that they expect revenues to increase sometime in the future is not a credible or acceptable answer. It is a cop-out that serves the electoral interests of the Liberals and PCs, at the cost of driving the province into insolvency and economic peril.
Freedom Party of Ontario has a credible plan to balance the budget and ensure the ongoing quality of health care. You can read Freedom Party’s 2012 Opposition Budget by clicking here: http://www.freedomparty.on.ca/budget . Here are some highlights:
- Take health care expenditures off-budget by transferring responsibility for OHIP to a Crown Corporation that competes with other companies in the sale of health insurance.
- Reduce taxes on income to ensure that no budget surplus results from taking health care expenditures off-budget.
- Implement these changes within a one-year period so as to stop running annual deficits.
We need to address the budget crisis now. Voters in the Vaughan and Kitchener-Waterloo by-elections have an opportunity to start the process by voting for their Freedom Party candidates: David Driver (Kitchener-Waterloo) and Erin Goodwin (Vaughan). As your MPPs, they will demand that the health care and budget crises be dealt with now, not evaded.
Leader, Freedom Party of Ontario
For further details, contact:
Paul McKeever, B.Sc.(Hons), M.A., LL.B.
Leader – Freedom Party of Ontario