|Look out: Premier Dalton McGuinty now says he's got his eye on wage freezes for the broader public sector.
In addition to his well-publicized salary squabbles with doctors and teachers, Premier Dalton McGuinty now says he’s got his eye on wage freezes for the broader public sector.
“We’re coming,” the premier warned the sector during a visit to the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo Friday, less than a week before byelections Thursday that could put his government in majority territory.
His tough-sounding message drew a rebuke from the Association of Management, Administrative and Professional Crown Employees of Ontario (AMAPCEO) representing 12,000 professional and supervisory public servants mainly in the Ontario Public Service.
“The Premier’s threats are most concerning to AMAPCEO as they come during a critical stage of our bargaining process,” a statement says, claiming the association has offered a wage freeze but the government is demanding a 2-3% cut.
McGuinty’s government is also trying to impose wage freezes on the majority of teachers and school staff in the province whose contracts ended Friday at midnight.
Opposition parties say the McGuinty government is really aiming its message at voters in Kitchener-Waterloo and Vaughan, attacking public sector perks to gain support in the key byelections.
Shurman said the minority McGuinty government has orchestrated byelections to regain the power it enjoyed in two previous mandates, and is now pretending that it is taking action rather than taking effective steps to control spending that is spiralling out of control.
“I think it’s backfired on them,” Tory MPP Peter Shurman said. “I think people see this for what it is - it is a show - a freak show - actually in a very badly organized circus.”
McGuinty said he recognizes the significance of this byelection and is running on his government’s record.
“This one’s unusual in that the majority, minority thing hangs in the balance... but it’s in the hands of the voters,” he said.
NDP House Leader Gilles Bisson said the Liberals are clearly hoping for a majority although Kitchener-Waterloo was Conservative under former PC MPP Elizabeth Witmer and the NDP have attracted a competitive candidate to that riding.
“They could very well last three years by winning this byelection,” Bisson said.
Vaughan was held by Liberal MPP Greg Sorbara.
McGuinty wouldn’t win a clear majority even if the takes both seats - his government and opposition parties would be at a standoff with the Liberal Speaker casting the deciding vote, usually according to precedent, Bisson said.
“So essentially a tied House would be the worst possible scenario because you would not be able to get anything through if, let’s say, there was a deadlock,” he said.
Bisson speculated the Liberals might try to pressure the Speaker, Liberal MPP Dave Levac, to take steps that would solidify their majority such as resigning his position.