By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne used the Stoney Creek campus of Mohawk College to ridicule Progressive Conservative Tim Hudak’s idea to slash 100,000 government jobs, arguing it would plunge the province back into a recession.
“It does not make any sense to us,” said Wynne, as area Liberal candidates stood alongside her during a media conference May 12. “(His) pink slip pledge will slow the economy. It will undercut the economic growth that is taking hold.”
But Hudak didn’t back down while opening his campaign office in Grimsby about an hour earlier, and a few miles away from Wynne’s campaign. He said the province is in a “mess,” that Ontario is bleeding jobs and the interest on Ontario’s debt could instead be used to prop up needed programs such as home care for the elderly.
Hudak did announce earlier he will fire 100,000 government employees over a two-year span if his party forms the next government, but will spare police, doctors and nurses, returning provincial government back to 2009 levels.
In addition, he announced in Smithville earlier in the day the elimination of the province’s feed-in-tariff program that has been unpopular among the rural population. It will mean, he said, saving about $20 billion, and creating 40,000 new jobs in the private sector. He said hydro bureaucrats will be part of the 100,000 government employees who will get pink slips.
His proposals, contained in his million dollar jobs plan, include spending within the government’s means, balancing the budget within two years and lower taxes on businesses that create jobs.
“Lower taxes will bring those jobs (that Niagara and Hamilton have lost) back,” he said.
Both Hudak and Wynne didn’t forget about NDP leader Andrea Horwath who was campaigning in Thunder Bay.
The Tory leader blamed Horwath for adding half of the $630 increase people are now paying for hydro.
“They are great pretenders,” said Hudak. “They say they care about hydro bills, but they voted each and every time for the big subsidies for the big wind farms to drive up your bill.”
Hudak also didn’t forget to add that the $1 billion gas plant scandal also jacked up the average homeowner’s hydro bill.
Wynne said both Hudak and Horwath are offering programs that will only slow down the economy, dragging it down to recession levels.
Horwath fired back, blaming the Liberals on the many scandals that have gripped the Liberals, and issuing voters to decide who they trust with their money.
Horwath also announced the NDP would eliminate the provincial portion of the HST from hydro bills which could slice about $120 per year per household. That savings would be over and above a previously announced NDP initiative to offer 100 rebates to hydro customers. She also reiterated other NDP ideas including merging different electricity agencies, and cap CEO salaries in the electricity sector.
Wynne said the type of economic ideas Hudak is presenting, including balancing the budget in 2017 a year ahead of what the Liberals want to do, will damage the fragile economy.
“We are not going to do that,” she said. “That will slow down the economy. It will push us back into recession. It is irresponsible.”
The Liberals have proposed a $2.5 billion jobs fund spread out over a decade to jump start the economy.
Wynne said her government is committed to helping to fund the skill trades, such as the truck mechanics apprentice program at Mohawk College that has about 4,000 students enrolled. She said a Hudak government will put at risk those students’ future careers.
She said firing personal service workers, teachers, meat and water inspectors, which would happened under a Hudak government, will somehow benefit Ontario will do the opposite, she said.
“He is dead wrong,” said Wynne. “It will put the people of this province at risk. We can’t afford to step back into recession. And that is exactly what Tim Hudak will take us.”