In every election the economy and job creation seems to find its way to the top of every candidate’s priority list and the current provincial election is no exception — losing about 300,000 manufacturing jobs usually catches politicians’ attention.
Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has called his platform the “One Million Jobs Plan.” His ideas include ratcheting down energy rates, slashing subsidies to programs that have helped businesses and most surprising firing 100,000 civil servants, from water and meat inspectors, to personal support workers to hydro bureaucrats. Of course, part of the plan includes lowering corporate taxes to have “the lowest taxes on job creators in North America.”
The NDP’s Andrea Horwath has offered some thin job-creation gruel to voters that have been mostly hope and compassion and little else. Campaigning without a platform, Horwath introduced a $250-million program that offers tax credits to businesses if they create jobs. Couple that with cutting hydro and hospital CEO salaries, raising corporate taxes and reducing hydro rates and the NDP believes the jobs will flow back to normal.
And the Liberals, in their failed May 1 budget, introduced a $130 billion investment in infrastructure to create about 100,000 jobs each year over the next decade. Their platform also includes a jobs fund and energy rate cuts.
While all this talk about job creation is nice, these job plans are either vague or insufficient job generators containing limited vision, or in some cases counter intuitive that leaves one to wonder if the economy would be hurt more than helped.
The province’s unemployment rate is holding steady at 7.4 per cent, the third consecutive quarter it hasn’t really moved. And the youth unemployment rate remains at a staggering 16 per cent.
Hamilton, for some reason, is defying the economic model. Its unemployment rate is 6.4 per cent as of last month, a jump from 5.8 per cent from March. And while Hamilton has experienced sharp job losses in manufacturing, the Steel City has attempted to mitigate the impact. Despite or due to the lack of other levels of government efforts, Hamilton has been diversifying its economic base, supporting high technology, health-related businesses, the tourist industry and relatively-small manufacturing plants.
Ontario’s economy is tied to the global trade, and private and public money is as important to work together to compete against the other global powerhouses. Jobs, and creating a balanced economy needs to be the goal, rather promising programs that speak more to ideology than to the needs of Ontarians.