StanCan dropped more tough economic news on Ontario Friday. June marks the 66th consecutive month that we’ve lagged Canada in job creation. Then again, bad economic news around our region is routine now: Energex Tube, Siemens, Henniges Automotive, John Deere… Together these closures account for the loss of nearly 1, 800 jobs since 2008 – among the nearly 300, 000 good, middle-class manufacturing jobs lost in Ontario since this government was first elected.
We need a new path a positive, pro-growth plan to get our fiscal house in order and get the economic fundamentals right. Things like lower taxes on job creators , affordable energy and more flexible and responsive regulation.
Among the regulatory basics are this province’s outdated workplace rules. Parts of this system date back to the 1940s. They need to be hauled into the 21st century just as Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. have done recognizing that today’s workers are very different from past generations – better educated and trained, more mobile and tech-savvy, and with greater time pressures and a need for more flexible work arrangements. Our ability to develop a truly modern economy depends on meeting their needs.
These new ideas are contained in the second of our Paths to Prosperity white papers, entitled Flexible Labour Markets. The paper recognizes that the world has changed, and that our economy has changed with it – but that the rules governing the workplace, and the way unions are run, have not.
For starters, we need to reexamine the system of “closed tendering” used by public institutions and municipalities. Closed tendering allows only contractors with collective agreements with unions to bid on provincial or municipal projects. Opening our public sector tendering to competition will ensure more roads get built and new buildings opened on time and on budget – while creating more jobs from the resulting increase in economic activity. It would also prevent the abuses we’ve seen recently over grossly inflated work costs. That now notorious $143 bill to screw a pencil sharpener to a Toronto classroom shelf comes to mind.
As well, our Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and the Ontario Labour Relations Board need reforms that will encourage job creation.
Then there’s the issue of the tremendous power given to unions over the years. No one should be fired from their job, or not hired for a job for which they are the best candidate, simply because they aren’t a union member. We need to make it easier for employees to make this basic choice, based on what works for them. Nor should members have to learn, often from the news media, of what their leadership is up to with their hard-earned dues – funding things like anti-Israel boycotts, Quebec student demonstrators and campaigns against bottled water, to name just three recent examples. Our call for reform includes bringing transparency to the ways union leaders spend this money, along with union finances as a whole.
Ontario can lead Canada again in competitiveness an job creation, but only by getting our economic fundamentals right. Let’s open up economic opportunities for individual workers – not union bosses. That’s what Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets is all about.
Please visit www.timhudakmpp.com to read more about our bold new ideas in Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets.