Ontario PCs won't support wage freeze bill
Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak says his party will not be voting for the minority Liberals' proposed public sector wage freeze because it doesn't go far enough.
Hudak said Monday the draft legislation is inadequate because it exempts municipalities, police and firefighters, and it fails to impose an immediate pay freeze.
"There's not teeth in there, so we can't support it. If they bring something back that has teeth, I'm willing to talk about it," said Hudak.
The Liberals' bill would freeze the wages of 480,000 unionized workers at hospitals, universities and government ministries for two years after their current contracts expire. Hudak says that's too long to wait.
The Tories would open existing contracts to impose a freeze on all public sector workers and take away bonuses given to 98 per cent of government managers, he said.
"We should act now. We should act boldly and freeze across the board," he said.
Hudak brushed aside concerns that his plan would not survive a court challenge.
"Both the Liberals and NDP are using that as an argument of convenience to allow for more pay increases to the public sector union leaders," he said.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath call's Hudak's approach "ham-fisted."
"Even though it might sound like a good solution right now, it's quite irresponsible," she said.
The New Democrats flatly oppose the legislation, saying they expect it will be struck down by the courts and end up costing taxpayers even more in the long run.
That means the Liberals need at least two PC votes to pass the wage freeze bill, but Hudak says the government must first broaden the scope of the legislation and strengthen proposed changes to the arbitration process.
The government says it needs all civil servants and workers in the broader public sector, including doctors and nurses, to take a wage freeze to help eliminate a deficit of almost $15 billion.
With files from Mike Crawley and The Canadian Press