This is a message from Local 793 Business Manager Mike Gallagher regarding the provincial and federal budgets released recently.
The federal and provincial governments tabled their budgets this past week.
The Ontario government stepped up to the plate big time by reaffirming that it’s going ahead with its plan to invest $130 billion in public infrastructure over 10 years, despite the fact it is under fiscal pressure.
It is also increasing funds dedicated for its Moving Ontario Forward plan by $2.6 billion, bringing funds for the initiative to a total of $31.5 billion over 10 years.
About $16 billion of the funds will be spent on transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) while $15 billion is earmarked for transportation and other priority infrastructure projects outside the GTHA.
This will mean jobs for the construction industry.
However, there were some negatives in the provincial budget.
Public service jobs may be impacted by the sale of Hydro One. While the government is going to limit any shareholder to 10 per cent so no one entity will control the company, there is uncertainty over jobs.
Current Hydro One chair Sandra Pupatello will soon be succeeded by David Denison, former president and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. It will be Denison’s job to get the utility primed for sale, and there’s the threat that could mean cutting jobs.
The budget also continues with the government’s policy of “net zero” wage increases for public sector employees, while the projected inflation rate is two per cent, so this is actually a pay reduction.
Unions are frustrated at the bargaining table. Already, we’ve seen strikes by high school teachers in Durham Region and more are threatening to hit the picket lines as a result of the wage freeze.
The wage freeze could have been avoided if the government had increased the corporate tax rate back to 14 per cent from 11.5 per cent.
As for beer sales in grocery stores, I don’t see it as a big deal. I would be disappointed, though, if it led to job reductions.
The federal budget, meanwhile, fell short on a number of fronts.
It was clearly an election budget, as it targeted niche sectors like seniors who traditionally come out to vote in high numbers and typically vote for Conservatives.
The government continued to reward businesses, promising to reduce the federal small-business tax rate to nine per cent from 11 per cent by 2019.
While the feds are projecting a surplus it’s being done because the government has reduced its contingency fund and sold its shares in General Motors and some government buildings.
As well, most of the new spending in the federal budget will not come into effect until 2017 or later, long after the election is over.