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Candidates square off on job-creation plans

In Issues
May 15th, 2014

By Frank Matys  Orillia Today

A plan by Tim Hudak’s Conservatives to slash 100,000 public sector jobs would prove “devastating” for the local economy, Simcoe North Liberal candidate Fred Larsen warns.

Within Midland and Pentanguishene alone “you are talking about 300 to 400 jobs probably being cut,” said Larsen, adding close to a quarter of jobs in the riding are public sector. “What that would do to the area is devastate it, frankly.”

Hudak’s proposal to eliminate 10 per cent of the civil service to balance Ontario’s budget, while cutting corporate taxes by 30 per cent, is no road to job creation, adds NDP candidate Doris Middleton.

“Services will change and the economy of Simcoe North will dramatically change,” she said. “The majority of our manufacturing here is small. Some of it is very precarious. Who can afford to buy a home if you don’t know if you have a job in six months?”

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop defends the proposed cuts as necessary to address what he claims is a bloated bureaucracy.

“There are too many regulations,” Dunlop said. “We see it over and over again, projects that don’t go ahead because there is too much bureaucracy and red tape. We want to streamline that.”

Dunlop maintains programs and services would be unaffected by the mass layoffs, adding that, “a large portion (of the losses) would be bureaucracy.”

But there is no evidence to suggest legions of unemployed civil servants would be scooped up by corporations benefiting from new tax cuts, says Green Party candidate Peter Stubbins.

“What are the chances of getting those 100,000 jobs back in the corporate sector?” he added. “There is nothing to say corporations are going to hire more people.”

The Green Party would bring small tax hikes to pay for, among other initiatives, a doubling of the payroll health-tax exemption for small businesses, Stubbins said.

Streamlining government will act as a catalyst for investment in Ontario, Dunlop argues.

“That’s where the jobs will be,” he added. “You cut 10 per cent of the bureaucracy and you create a million jobs over eight years in the private sector.”

Larsen doesn’t believe it.

“I don’t think there’s any kind of economic model that shows that equation is a valid one,” he said. “I think the experience in the last 20 years around the world is actually quite different.

“Unless you slash wages entirely and make it a low-income, low-wage place that will bring in businesses that are looking just for that.

“The Liberal government doesn’t believe in doing that.”

The province must invest in training while working to retain and attract well-paying jobs, Larsen said.

“We can’t compete with some of those countries around the world that are paying 10 per cent of Ontario’s average wage,” he added. “To try to head that direction, I kind of shudder to think what kind of country we’d be left with.”

Larsen said the Liberal government’s investments in infrastructure of about $10 billion annually are “keeping people working.

“But it has also been preparing the province even better for the future when the U.S. economy is back to where it was 10 years ago and when we have trade with Europe heating up, that we will be able to have what it takes for companies to be here,” he added.

The NDP will support the corporate sector through tax credits that reward job creation, but with “strings attached,” Middleton added.

“For every good sustainable job, they could receive up to 10 per cent of the salary as a credit, at a max of $5,000,” Middleton said.

Another tax credit would assist with buildings, machinery and equipment.

“The conservatives’ (approach) is kind of a laissez faire, ‘Here’s your money, I know you’ll create jobs’,” Middleton said. “Well, guess what? That hasn’t been happening.”

Incremental increases to the minimum wage and a cut to small-business taxes are among the NDP’s proposals.

The Green Party would bring small tax increases to pay for, among other initiatives, a doubling of the payroll health-tax exemption for small businesses. “You wouldn’t have to pay the health tax until you have a payroll of $900,000,” Stubbins said.

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