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Press Release

Austerity budget punishing Ontarians for a deficit they didn't create: ETFO

Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, March 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Ontario's austerity budget is punishing average Ontarians for a deficit they didn't create by reducing the public services available to meet everyday needs, according to the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO).

"Whether you're working or not, or whether you're unionized or not, ordinary Ontarians are being asked to take a hit that many economists say is not necessary," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "It is investments in public infrastructure, communities, and public services that have always helped put this province on the road to economic recovery."

"With spending curtailed to below the rate of inflation, you can be sure that Ontarians will pay more user fees and encounter more eligibility barriers to social and public services than ever before," said Hammond.

"The drop in education funding to 1.7% per year, which will mostly be spent on full day kindergarten, doesn't even keep up with the 2% inflation rate. This will mean cuts to classrooms and services. It's going to compromise special needs children, and jeopardize student safety and school cleanliness. That's not what we want for our schools. "

"The government is saying that for every dollar in revenue, it has found four dollars of savings and cost-containment measures. Those 'savings' are not savings for the people of Ontario. Cuts to vital public services built with our tax dollars are being used to pay for a deficit that working people did not create."

"Given that financial sector speculation, the global recession, and the subsequent bail-out of companies created the deficit, this government has steadfastly refused to address the revenue side of the equation," said Hammond. "Ontario doesn't have a spending problem; it has a revenue problem. Even though the government will freeze further corporate tax cuts in this budget, the province has continued to lose $16 billion in revenue each year because of its failure to reverse the tax cuts of the Harris era."

"Public sector wages have steadily declined since 1981 as a share of provincial spending. And by its own admission, Ontario will continue to spend less per capita overall than any other province," said Hammond. "Yet this budget will unnecessarily cause the loss of thousands of good jobs through cuts and privatization initiatives in infrastructure, health services, and Service Ontario."

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.