Civil service cuts won't hurt Ontarians: Hudak
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak. (Tony Caldwell/QMI Agency)
Ontarians won’t really miss the government’s he’s vowing to cut, PC Leader Tim Hudak says.
When asked about the impact of his campaign promise to axe 100,000 positions from the broader public service, Hudak said at least one-quarter of those jobs would disappear through natural attrition while others would be contracted out.
There are also large bureaucracies that could be trimmed without impacting public services, he said.
“You would be amazed at how much government you’re never going to miss,” Hudak told the Canadian Club of Toronto Friday.
The PC Leader has been under fire to explain how he can take 100,000 jobs out of the public sector without hurting services, and also how his “Million Jobs” plan could actually deliver that many new private sector positions.
As economists weigh in on his job creation math — Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne dared him to find one expert who agreed with it — Hudak made a point of stressing his own educational background in economics.
Hudak told the business crowd Friday that if the province continues to run up debt at the current rate, currently over $270 billion, then it will face hard decisions like those made in Greece where an economic crisis forced the country to slash its hospital budgets by 25%.
Ontario’s most vulnerable people — those with disabilities or in poverty — will be hurt the most, he argued.
A PC government would change the current claw-back rule that discourages a welfare recipient from seeking work, he said.
“In my Ontario, nobody should have to ask whether she can afford to take a job,” he said.
Hudak said he would cut Drive Clean but keep special needs teachers.
Although the PCs have indicated they will make cuts to the education budget, Hudak said he will protect school funding for special education, including the teachers and assistants who provide the programs to youngsters.
“Shame on Kathleen Wynne for suggesting that,” Hudak said. “Every dollar that’s enveloped, that’s guaranteed for special needs kids to help out with the teachers, with the EAs (educational assistants), I want to make sure every dollar and more can go to special needs.”
Hudak said this issue is “personal” for him, noting his own mother taught special education.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has launched an advertising campaign accusing Hudak of being a threat to children’s’ education.
“The Tim Hudak Conservatives have promised to fire 100,000 public servants, including 19,000 teachers and other school staff,” ETFO says on its website. “If elected, the Conservatives will put cuts and corporate interests first, and citizens and students last.”
Meanwhile, Hudak said he would consider it cheating if a minority PC government was thwarted by a Liberal-NDP coalition.