An editorial in today’s Waterloo Region Record (Mar. 3, 2012), A public sector’s gathering storm, perturbs me. The focus of the editorial is the McGuinty government’s plan to freeze the salaries of Ontario teachers for two years in order to help eliminate the huge financial deficit in the province.
I agree that Ontario’s Teacher’s Unions will begin to whine like never before. One Union President is already calling any suggestion that his members take some cuts “offensive”. What a cry-baby!
Now, let me be clear, I’m not picking exclusively on, or “bashing” the teachers. Much of what I have to say applies equally to other public sector unions. And, my wrath is not necessarily focused on individual union members.
Members of Ontario public sector unions have had it wonderful during these past few years of gloom and doom for many in the private sector. While many have faced job losses or cuts in wages (auto workers for example), public sector workers have received raises. Not necessarily huge raises – but a raise just the same. Combine that with the fact that their purchasing power has increased (look at what has happened to car prices) – the net effect is that public sector workers have done quite handsomely. Oh, sorry, the poor babies lost some money on their investments – something many of Ontario’s less privileged can only dream of.
I hold absolutely no hope that McGuinty will balance the books in Ontario. He will buckle – he will eventually cave into the union’s demands. McGuinty has not the spine to straighten out the mess that he largely helped create.
I wish I could resurrect Ronnie Reagan to come in and straighten things out. I’d like to see him treat the unions precisely as he did the U.S. Air Traffic Controllers many years ago. At the first sign of a work stoppage, he would tell them to get back to work, or they’re all fired. And, he would stick to his word. Even if it meant a lost year for students. Ontario’s financial situation is that desperate.
I expect a little backlash to what I am saying. So, here is the challenge. Given that there is no doubt we in Ontario are in deep doo-doo, I want to hear more than how wrong I am. I want to hear how all those out there who are all wise and all-knowing would handle the crisis we are in. How would you balance the books?
Perhaps a huge income tax increase is in order for Ontario’s well off? That might help in part. But it would still not be enough.
I predict the future in Ontario – and Canada is very gloomy indeed.