If Ontario wants to avoid a recession, the government must invest in—not cut back on—public services, AMAPCEO advised on the release of the province’s fall economic statement on Monday.
In his fall economic update, Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy claimed “now is the time for governments to show restraint, to act cautiously and responsibly” to mitigate the impacts of an economic downturn.
That’s the wrong approach, said AMAPCEO, the union representing 15,000 of Ontario’s public service professionals.
“Austerity is self-defeating,” AMAPCEO President Dave Bulmer said. “It only leads to higher unemployment, lower tax revenues, and weakened public services.”
“It would worsen Ontario’s financial future,” Bulmer warned.
Instead, the union encouraged the government to invest in public services—especially health care and education—to help mitigate the negative impacts of inflation on its citizens and steer Ontario out of its economic slump.
The union pointed to recent studies, including one by Quebec independent research institute IRIS, which found that investing in the public sector fights the effects of inflation and yields “a greater economic impact on GDP and jobs than investment in other industries.”
Stronger public services would help make Ontario a more attractive province for out-of-province business, as well, Bulmer said.
“If you’re looking to expand your business, are you going to feel confident setting up shop in a place where you face long lines at the emergency room and your kids are stuffed into crumbling classrooms?” Bulmer said. “The threadbare state of public services in this province does not exactly signal that we’re ‘open for business.’”
In addition to investments in public health care and education, the union said the government can also restore confidence in the province’s future by treating working people with more respect.
Bulmer said he hoped the chaos of the last few weeks, caused by the government’s attempt to ban education workers’ right to strike, taught the government a couple important lessons.
“First, that workers’ power should never be underestimated, and second, that it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Bulmer said. “With Bill 28 behind us, let’s work on fairer deals for public servants, repealing Bill 124, and guaranteeing paid sick days for all.”
It’s people that make up this province – so an investment in strong public services and fairer working conditions for the people of Ontario is an investment in Ontario’s future.