TORONTO – Ontario’s governing Liberals will unveil a plan today to force restraint in public sector compensation.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is expected to provide details on legislation to rein in the salaries of public sector workers across the province to battle Ontario’s $15-billion deficit.
Premier Dalton McGuinty has repeatedly warned since last spring that the Liberals are prepared to legislate a wage freeze if they can’t get it through collective bargaining.
He suggested two weeks ago that his government may introduce a single bill to impose an across-the-board wage freeze.
After Duncan outlines how the government will move ahead with the legislation, several unions will lay out their plans to fight back.
The Ontario Federation of Labour is holding an emergency meeting with other union leaders to talk about how they can mobilize province-wide to challenge the cuts.
They say McGuinty is “aggressively interfering” in bargaining and violating the constitutional rights of workers.
The minority Liberals have already cut fees to doctors and outraged many teachers with a new anti-strike law that’s been condemned by unions and civil liberties activists.
It gives the government the power over the next two years to ban strikes and lockouts, as well as rein in wages and cut benefits.
Several unions representing most of Ontario’s teachers say they’ll challenge the legislation all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
But the Liberals say they’re confident that the teachers’ bill will withstand a court challenge, as will any other wage-freeze legislation they introduce.
Duncan has said the minority Liberals won’t rip up existing collective agreements, but they won’t fund wage hikes either.