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Budget or Platform?

Publish date: Thursday, April 28, 2022 update

Photo of Queen's Park

TORONTO, ON -- The 2022 provincial Budget promises much, but what it will ultimately deliver is unclear as the document is essentially a campaign platform, says AMAPCEO, a union representing 15,000 professionals in the Ontario Public Service and throughout the broader public sector.

As the Progressive Conservatives kick off their election campaign with a plethora of promises, what stands out most starkly is what is missing.

“The government has missed another opportunity to repeal the unconstitutional wage-capping Bill 124 before the end of their term in office,” AMAPCEO President Dave Bulmer said. “With inflation running at levels not seen in decades, the ramifications of this government’s attack on free and fair collective bargaining worsen by the day.”

Positive promise on hybrid work

Among the many promises the Progressive Conservatives put forward, AMAPCEO pointed to some positive ideas – particularly the budget’s commitment to hybrid work in the OPS. “AMAPCEO has long been at the forefront in promoting hybrid work arrangements. One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that Ontario’s public servants can perform their work anywhere,” said Bulmer. “We are delighted to see a commitment to more hybrid workspaces and touchdown spaces.”

The need for new revenue

The budget promises a tax reduction for those earning a lower income. “More disposable income for those earning less is a good thing,” said Bulmer. “But we would all be better served by policies that ensure a living wage at work. Our collective goal must be a province where everyone can afford the necessities of life and is able to contribute to funding the vital programs that we all rely upon.”

The proposed budget does nothing to address the primary difficulty with Ontario’s public finances: insufficient revenue. Rather than address this long-term problem, the Progressive Conservatives are promising to worsen it if re-elected.

“We see the government squandering important revenue on needless tax breaks, like the licence plate sticker refund,” said Bulmer. “Ontario’s next government must show leadership and begin planning for Ontario’s future with new, progressive tax tools which will make the Budget—and necessary public services—more sustainable.”

Continuing along a budgetary path of ignoring the necessity of increasing revenue, the union warns, risks a return to austerity after the next election, no matter which party forms the government.

“Continued wage restraint and program spending that lags inflation will hinder, not help, the creation of the prosperous Ontario of the future that we all want,” Bulmer said.

The coming election

With the election only weeks away, and with the government having no intent to pass the Budget before the writ drops, AMAPCEO will not be engaging with the Budget in our typical in-depth fashion. 

“As with any election platform, the promises in this Budget must be taken with a grain of salt,” said Bulmer.

The union has identified four key priorities for the 2022 Election:

  • Repealing Bill 124
  • Stopping outsourcing
  • Ending the hiring freeze in the public service
  • Fair and flexible hybrid work

In the coming weeks, AMAPCEO will be canvassing each of the major parties for their positions on these issues and sharing results with its membership to inform their vote. Likewise, the union will be asking its members to consider which candidate in their riding and/or which party will best serve the interests of dedicated public servants and valuable public services.

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).