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Hudak and Wynne duel over job cuts

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

(TIM PECKHAM, Toronto Sun Graphics)

(TIM PECKHAM, Toronto Sun Graphics)

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PC Leader Tim Hudak and Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne squared off Monday over one of the most contentious election promises of the provincial campaign.

Backed by three rows of public servants, Wynne said Hudak’s pledge to cut 100,000 positions from the broader public sector payroll would devastate services.

“You’re the police officer, the firefighter and the paramedic who look into our frightened eyes and calmly tell us that we’ll be OK,” Wynne said while in North York. “Every day, you keep our communities safe and secure.”

On the same day, the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) launched an election attack ad which accuses Hudak of threatening to rip up its collective agreement.

Meanwhile, Hudak stood in front of a massive Toronto building Monday which he said was filled with the kind of paper-pushing, middle management government bureaucrats that he believes can be eliminated from the payroll without hurting frontline services.

“It is the Taj Mahal of Liberal bureaucracy,” Hudak said of the nine-storey building which was built in an upside down pyramid shape. “It’s squeezed at the bottom and fat on top — just like the Liberal government.”

Hudak said he would roll back the public sector payroll to 2009 levels, partly through attrition and contracting out, but would protect frontline service providers such as special education teachers, personal support workers and nurses.

A PC government would also freeze public sector salaries, including those of MPPs, for two years, he said.

In response to the OPPA advertising campaign, Hudak said that he respects police officers and the work that they do.

“But if you’re asking me if I’m going to give exemptions to anybody from our wage freeze, the answer is no,” Hudak said.

Wynne’s budget plan to elimninate the deficit by 2017-18 also calls for a hold on public sector wages but the Liberal leader said she would not override collective agreements.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who has made pocketbook promises such as a HST break on hydro bills a central plank in her campaign, launched an online calculator that adds up how much money voters could save with an NDP government.

Voters are required to provide identifying information to use the calculator.


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