Hamilton Liberal candidates are blasting the Progressive Conservatives's public service job cut proposals and say city's like Hamilton will be left to do the Tories' "dirty work."
The candidates pointed to new research that suggests more than 10,000 local residents could be handed pink slips sending the unemployment rate soaring to nine per cent.
According to the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), Hamilton will be the third hardest hit municipality behind Toronto and Ottawa and push the city beyond the provincial unemployment average.
Local Liberal candidates gathered out front of the Woodward Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant on Friday calling Hudak's job cuts plan "deja-vu economics," in reference to the thousands of jobs slashed by former PC premier Mike Harris.
"In order to protect vital services city council would be faced with some necessary but very unpleasant decision to make," said Ted McMeekin, Liberal candidate for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale (ADFW).
"Hudak is very clear he's going to download these cuts onto municipalities...so that they can do the dirty work for him," he said.
The provincial government has invested $38-million in the treatment plant in recent years making it one of the largest infrastructure investments in Ontario. The funds dedicated to the facility upgrades were also matched by the federal government.
"We now have one of the best water and wastewater treatment plants in the world," McMeekin said. "With infrastructure you need people to run it, you need people to make sure it functions, maintain it, improve it."
'Paychecks are going to bounce'
PC Leader Tim Hudak announced in the early days of the campaign that his party would cut 100,000 jobs from the public service, some of those at the municipal level.
"Those are the very people we shouldn't be trying to race to the bottom by handing pink them slips to," McKeekin said, adding that the city is now on a "positive upswing" and such cuts could lay the seeds for recession.
PC candidate in the ADFW riding Donna Skelly said she disagreed with the numbers being put forward by the OFL.
She said 50 per cent of the job cuts would come through attrition over the next four years as the party proposes scaling back the public service to 2009 job levels.
'What we have to get through to people is if this province doesn't start living within its means, if we don't start reigning in spending, public sector paychecks are going to bounce.' - Donna Skelly, PC candidate
"What we have to get through to people is if this province doesn't start living within its means, if we don't start reigning in spending, public sector paychecks are going to bounce," Skelly said.
The Liberals cited concerns that cuts might have for staff at the treatment plant and the resulting affect on services.
"We need competent people here doing the job that Hamiltonians count on them doing and that's providing clean, drinkable water," McKeekin said.
Skelly disagreed with suggestion that job cuts would hit Hamilton specifically if the PC's were to form the government after the June 12th election.
"We do not control what happens within the municipalities - what happens there, happens there," Skelly said. "We're not targeting anything. We are saying we're going to find waste, we are going to identify waste..."