Ontario caps public sector wage increases at 1%

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The Ontario’s government has introduced legislation called the Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act in order to cap public sector wage increases at an average of one per cent annually for the next three years.

The new wage cap will affect teachers and staff at post-secondary institutions and hospitals as well as both unionized and non-unionized workers.

If passed, the bill will “ensure that increases in public sector compensation reflect the fiscal situation of the province,” he told the legislature earlier Wednesday.

The PCs expect to launch a website and host consultations about the plan over the summer.

The legislation comes after the government hinted at the possibility of a wage freeze earlier this spring.

The Tories, under Premier Doug Ford, have said that limiting raises will help the province lower its estimated $13.5 billion deficit.

Ontario currently spends around $72 billion annually on public sector compensation.

The PCs have already frozen the salaries of public sector executives who earn more than $100,000.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the wage freeze is the latest in a series of damaging policies to emerge from Ford’s office. She highlighted the government’s recent cuts to health, childcare and ambulance services.

The government’s legislation comes after the province recently started the bargaining process with the largest teachers’ unions ahead of an August 31 contract expiry.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario filed its notice to bargain just two days prior, and said the government is using the legislation to bully its members into a certain outcome.

Recent public sector wage increases have averaged 1.6 per cent a year and the average employee makes $64,000, government officials said.

The legislation would apply for three years upon the expiration of a collective agreement and doesn’t affect current agreements.

The bill would exclude merit-based raises, or increases for years of service or if an employee completes a program or other professional certification. -CINEWS

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