This week, Tim Hudak released details of his plan to drastically cut public sector jobs in Ontario. A study conducted by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives suggests that of the 1,331,000 public sector employees in Ontario, approximately 650,000 would be eligible for cuts according to the PC plan, most of whom are employed in the education and health sectors. This includes the public school system, universities, colleges, trade schools and health services.
While the province does not have control over hiring and budgetary processes at universities, a PC government could force lay-offs through spending cuts. Loss of faculty and staff, coupled with deep cuts, would have a crippling effect on the quality of education at Ontario’s universities.
Cuts to higher education funding would require a huge increase in tuition fees for Ontario students who already pay the highest amount in Canada. The cuts would also increase class sizes for students who already have learn under the worst student-to-faculty ration in Canada.
Cuts elsewhere would be similarly destructive, Privatization of the LCBO and OLG would eliminate 40,000 jobs while 2,000 jobs would likely be cut from the LHINS as Hudak has previously suggested doing. This means just under 60,000 job cuts will most likely occur in the education and health sectors. The average annual salary across the education and health sectors is approximately $77,000 which would equate to $4.6 billion dollars in lost funding if the positions were eliminated. The official Tory platform notes that nearly 10,000 non-teacher positions would be cut in the schools, and average class sizes would increase.
It is worth noting that Mike Harris’ job cuts totaled 44,000 positions. Hudak is proposing to cut twice as many jobs. As the Globe and Mail reported, “this will have an impact, and not just on those whose jobs will be eliminated.” Services, communities, and the economy will suffer.
Universities promote economic growth, not hinder it. The City of Toronto estimates that the University of Toronto has an economic impact of $5.4 billion dollars. The University of Toronto alone creates more revenue than Hudak’s proposed $4.6 billion of job cuts. Cutting public sector spending to higher education will not increase job opportunities or revenue- instead, it will destroy the economic multiplier effect of universities, devastate the next generation of university students, and cripple the research and innovation economy in Ontario.