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NORTH BAY AND TORONTO, ON – Today’s budget is an attack on the North, says Henri Giroux, vice-president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“It is increasingly obvious the Liberals simply don’t care about Northern Ontario,” said Giroux. “Dalton McGuinty ignored us during the election, he took train maintenance jobs away from North Bay, and now he’s axing Ontario Northland and is going to sell off Northern Ontario’s broadband wireless service.”

The government’s proposals hit public services that Northern communities rely on. These include selling off Ontario Northland rail assets and privatizing its bus services, and privatizing Ontera’s high-speed internet, a system built with public money as an investment in the North.

“The Liberals are hitting the North with old Tory ideas that even the Conservatives themselves have now backed away from,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn following the budget’s release at Queen’s Park. “This austerity budget won’t fix the deficit. It will pull billions out of the economy, throw thousands out of work and cut the services that our communities rely on.”

“Balancing the books on the back of a child care worker who makes $28,000 a year or a school secretary who makes $35,000 a year while corporations are enjoying the benefit of huge tax cuts and refusing to create jobs is an outrage.” he said.

Decisions in this budget, such as freezing social assistance rates, cutting public services, [freezing wages] and holding back the Ontario child benefit ultimately punish communities and make the poor and working people pay for unproductive corporate tax cuts.

“The worst part of this budget is that it shows the Premier and Finance Minister have lost hope. They believe Ontario’s economy will never recover,” said Hahn. “We believe the knowledge and skills of Ontarians can rebuild the economy and build a better province.” This budget will be particularly hard on communities in Northern Ontario, and in Southern communities with high unemployment, such as Windsor, London and Brantford. Sagging economies and manufacturing job losses have made many communities more reliant on the very public services which the Liberals are cutting today.

“Ontarians will not sit idly by while our province is damaged,” said Hahn. “There will be people on the lawn of Queen’s Park. There will be people at constituency offices. And there will be people knocking on doors in the next election.”

Leading economists have shown the deficit can be eliminated through a combination of fair tax measures, strategic investments to create good jobs and grow the economy, and investing in quality public services.

“Instead of building, the Liberals have chosen to tear down,” said Hahn. “People need good jobs, not pink slips. Businesses need good public infrastructure to grow. Families need safe, affordable childcare and housing. Our elders need to be able to live out their retirement in dignity. Dalton McGuinty and the Liberals need to remember they were elected to protect Ontarians, not to give money to banks.”


For more information, please contact:

Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316