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Last chance for Liberals to refocus

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As the Ontario Liberal Party gets ready for its Annual General Meeting Oct. 15-17, one thing is clear: The Liberals are in rough shape.

Something like 70 per cent of Ontarians think the McGuinty government is on the wrong track. It’s not hard to see why. The Premier’s vision of a prosperous Ontario with strong public services is just that – a vision.

On the ground, it’s a very different story.

Hospitals are laying off staff. Children’s aid societies are going bankrupt. Public services are slowly starving in every community.

The Liberals give Ontario nothing to look forward to but seven lean years.

The Liberals axed the special allowance that paid for nutritious food for people on social assistance. In the last budget, they raised social assistance rates by just one per cent – which is actually a cut, after inflation. Poor people are getting poorer.

These days, more and more jobs are part-time, temporary, or agency temp jobs that don’t provide enough hours or income to live. Yet the Liberals’ economic strategy doesn’t even seem to notice. Their only plan is for tax breaks for corporations that already have more money than they know what to do with.

What guarantee do we have that these tax cuts will create jobs, as the Liberals claim? None at all. These tax cuts are no strings attached. McGuinty is telling CEOs: If you want to create jobs, great. If not, that’s fine, too. Just take the money!

Who pays? We do. Corporate tax cuts can only be financed by working people. In the McGuinty plan, public employees get a wage freeze, and every Ontarian gets a cut to the vital public services they depend on.

Ontarians know something is wrong, and they are blaming McGuinty.

People feel like they are paying more and getting less in return. They think government is the problem. But the real problem is not government, it’s the people pulling the strings behind the scenes. When CEOs spend $950 a plate to go to a McGuinty fundraising dinner, they expect favours – big favours – in return. And they’re getting them.

Don’t like the HST? You can blame McGuinty, but he’s just doing what he’s told. The Chamber of Commerce lobbied hard for it, and in return they’ll get close to $4.5 billion in tax cuts a year (see Ontario’s Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth, p.15 for details).

Ontarians can’t depend on corporations to look after our families or our future. If the Liberal party want to remain in government, there’s only one way to do it. They need to focus on the real needs of real people and build our economy, and our public services, from the bottom up. Inflating the bonuses of CEOs through more tax breaks won’t do it.

OPSEU will be at the Liberal AGM, and we’ll be telling the Liberals: Change now. With just one year left to the next election, this is your last chance.

In solidarity,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President

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