How much do public sector wages contribute to household incomes? How much do they add to the economy?
If you listen to some politicians, you’d think the answer was “not much.” Remember Tim Hudak? The former PC leader told voters he would cut 100,000 public sector jobs in Ontario and we’d all be better off.
Voters didn’t buy it, and here’s one reason why: lots of families depend on public sector wages to live.
Close to 20 per cent of employed people in Ontario work in the public sector. And more than 70 per cent of us make union wages.
That’s a lot of household spending going into our communities.
Yet the 20 per cent number underestimates the value of public sector wages to households. Most people, especially working-age people, live with someone else. It’s true that some public employees make their lives with other public employees. More often, though, public employees share a roof with people working in the private sector.
So I was wondering: how many working Ontarians live in a household with at least one public sector worker? We dug into the numbers from Statistics Canada, and here’s what we found: in 2011, thirty-two per cent either worked in the public sector or lived with someone who did.
Just think about that. Close to one-third of working Ontarians rely to some degree on public sector wages to pay the rent or the mortgage, buy the food, and put clothes on their backs.
It’s a number every politician should know.
Public sector wages support the well-being of people and families on every road and every street in Ontario. So if you’re in bargaining right now, please let your employer know: you can’t afford to take a pay cut.
People at home are counting on you.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union