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Ontario Budget 2014 -- Election

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If you're not saving for retirement, which is a problem because no outside of the public service and auto sector get a pension, then an OPP isn't going to save you.

I'd imagine, I could find a better way to invest $1,000 or so a year than to give it to the crooks in the Ontario Liberal Party.

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Let's keep in mind the 'tax on the wealthy' was created just two years ago on incomes over $500,000. I think most of us would agree if you're making that much money, you're pretty well-off. Mind you, when I think of 'wealthy' I think of people like the CEOs making ten million a year, or people like Gates or the Waltons. Half a million a year isn't wealthy, it's just barely rich.

Just two years later they've dropped the threashold all the way to $150,000. That isn't wealthy, nor even rich. That's a dentist. Or me. I'm wealthy, it seems. I'm going to have to find room for a limo in my bungalow's garage, which is a prolem since it's a very small garage my Hyndai barely fits into.

And how much further do they drop it? It seems the borders of 'middle class' keep shrinking to these people. You're either poor, and pay no income tax, or you're 'wealthy' and fit to be sheered like a fat sheep.

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More baseless Hudak bashing. I'm assuming you mean Right-to-Work, which he backed off of. Removing Hudak in a minority situation would have given Wynne a perfect opportunity to call a snap election. McGuinty and Harper lost their first elections, not sure why Hudak hasn't been given the same slack.

If you don't believe him regarding Right-to-Work, then I assume you also don't believe Wynne really won't raise the Gas Tax and HST if they do win a majority this time around.

I hope I am not "Hudak Bashing". I am trying to be an objective observer enjoying the shenanigans that go on in politics. I believe that Hudak is as honest and truthful a politician that any politician can be. I believe very little what politicians declare during a campaign.

All politicians maintain the right to "adjust" policies after they are elected, find out the truth behind previous governments finances and "conform" to changing times. It is noteworthy that Horvath is not running against Liberal policy or the budget but that the Liberals cannot be "trusted" to implement their promises. It may work. It did for Harper.

The problem for Hudak is that the Liberal policies have moved to the left, Horvath has moved towards the center and Hudak seems to be all by himself way out on the right. He has finally stopped having photo ops with Mike Harris. Good move.

I am looking forward to hearing the PC agenda and the NDP agenda for the campaign.

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The Liberals moving to the left is a boon to the PC. We talk about this in the Toronto mayoral campaign. Short of Chow, all the major candidates are on the Centre-Right so it's believed Chow will have a cakewalk.

The Liberal budget could easily be an NDP budget so they'll be fighting for the left while PC has the Right and Centre to itself. You'd have to believe centrists that could go either to the Liberals and PC would have to go to the PCs because this Wynne budget speaks to the left and the left alone.

There's nothing in here a conservative could support.

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In preparation for elections, both the left and the right move towards the center in order to get votes. The NDP has moved so far towards the center that this Liberal budget looks like a proposed NDP budget. Hudak, like Tory before him, tied a stone around his neck. Tory had private school funding and Hudak has his "right-to-vote" pledge.

He dumped that one a couple of months ago.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/hudak-abandons-right-to-work-proposal/article17019816/#dashboard/follows/

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HIDDEN AGENDA!!!!

Of course the real Hidden Agenda isn't really hidden at all. Wynne was adamant that we needed new revenue tools for transit. She even convened not one but TWO! committees to tell her how she should raise funds for transit. The two most popular recommendations are an HST hike and an up to 10¢ hike per litre in the gas tax.

Horvath said she wouldn't vote for a budget that had such blatant Middle-class tax hikes like that in it. Wynne backed off because it's obvious political suicide.

If Ontarians are foolish enough to give Wynne a majority, I predict these "revenue tools" will come back to life.

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The Liberals moving to the left is a boon to the PC. We talk about this in the Toronto mayoral campaign. Short of Chow, all the major candidates are on the Centre-Right so it's believed Chow will have a cakewalk.

The Liberal budget could easily be an NDP budget so they'll be fighting for the left while PC has the Right and Centre to itself. You'd have to believe centrists that could go either to the Liberals and PC would have to go to the PCs because this Wynne budget speaks to the left and the left alone.

There's nothing in here a conservative could support.

Sure with the Lib budget being close to the NDP it could simply split the left between the two with much of the center joining the right and voting for Hudak. I believe that is the more common scenario. However, I could see things possibly going the other way too. It seems most people in this province don't seem to be interested in either the right or the left, which is why this completely incompetent (and that is being way too kind to them) group of Liberals stayed in power last election. The current similarity between the Liberals and NDP may result in many people who can't stomach the Liberals again, voting for the NDP as they view that as rejecting the incompetence and corruption of the Liberals, but not rejecting the policy direction.

Of course anything can happen over the next few weeks. I don't see too many people enthused about any of their options. I know long time Conservatives who will not vote for the PCs under Hudak, long time NDP supporters who really, really don't like Horwath, and Liberals who have sympathy for the mess Wynne inherited yet feel that their party must lose power to purge the corrupt elements of it. I think we are headed for another minority (either PCs or Liberals), but I think that people are frustrated enough that there could be a major shift in any direction during the campaign (something which occurred during the election campaigns of both 1990 and 1995 if my memory serves me).

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With those kinds of graphs, I really wish they would superimpose the GDP line onto them. It helps you see when political decisions were made versus the effects of market forces, i.e., the GDP changing and affecting the ratio.

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You'll notice the part where it starts to go down is merely 'projected' somewhere in the future, well after the election...

The last five years are especially alarming. And the projected return to balance seems to be just a guess, a hope that the economy will start booming.

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Here's an issue which speaks to both the budget and the election. How long can Ontario continue to have among the highest paid public servants on planet Earth? This is an issue which is Canada wide, but Ontario is often the trend setter. There might be a few jurisdictions on earth where police and firefighters are paid more than here, but I don't know where they might be. I don't know anywhere bus drivers get paid more. Teachers? Again, perhaps a couple of places in Switzerland? Nurses? They were just given a raise by an arbitrator despite the Liberals' "freeze" on hospital spending.

We're talking about jobs which employ huge numbers of people, all paid by the public. These are jobs which are not the least bit difficult to fill, and always have more applicants than jobs available. Often they don't even require post-secondary education. The majority of nursing work doesn't reqire a ton of training, although some, of course, does. We had to create a new category of nurses to do the routine stuff because we couldn't afford to pay enough RNs to do it any more. The number of police per citizen keeps shrinking because we simply can't afford to pay their huge salaries.

Wanted: Police officer for small, quiet city. Starting salary $45,000, rising to maximum of $60,000

Do you think you'd be lacking quality applicants for such an advertisement? I don't. I think you'd get tons of qualified applicants. So why do we pay police over $90,000? Why do firefighters in London Ontario make so much more than firefighters in London, England? Over 80% of London, Ontario firefighters will make over $100,000 this year. In London England, average firefighter's salaries are around 30,000 pounds, which works out to about $55,000, a little more than half what is earned by firefighters in London, Ontario and everywhere else in Ontario.

http://www.prospects.ac.uk/firefighter_salary.htm

http://www.london.ca/city-hall/interest-arbitration/Pages/Fire-Interest-Arbitration.aspx

I'm not even getting into all the public service jobs which don't require uniforms and are hidden away in buildings. There's a reason to pay reasonable compensation for our public servants, especially those in highly skilled, high demand professions. But the cost of overcompensating them is obvious. Not only are budgets high but we get little for those budgets. We don't have enough nurses, doctors, paramedics, police, etc. because we can't afford those huge salaries. Meanwhile, education costs are going through the roof due to the cost of overpaying teachers, who now earn more, on average, than lawyers. How long can we continue to borrow money to pay these disproportionately high salaries?

This perculates downward and upward. Municipal salaries are even higher than provincial and federal salaries in many cases, but in the case of the 'uniformed' professions, as well as teachers, the pay is set by the province and it's deals with unions and rules on arbitration. Smaller centers have begged the province to do something about this but been utterly ignored because the Liberals are terrified of the unions and eager to cut deals with them.

http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2014/02/21/handcuffed-by-police-costs

So do we go bankrupt like the Greeks or do we do something to get control of exhorbitant public service salaries? Or as Macleans said, should we just resign ourselves to the fact that cops, firefighters and teachers are our new upper class?

http://www.macleans.ca/economy/business/the-new-upper-class/

Edited by Scotty

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Augh. Scotty your post was like a punch to the stomach. No vitriol, no emotion - just a matter-of-fact statement that the province employs many high-priced civil servants and can't afford to do so.

As much as I abhor the tax-cut cries, there are times when the politics and financial realities catch up with this kind of spending.

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I'm not sure what's up with London, ON firefighters, but they seem to be an outlier if these statistics are to be believed. The national average for firefighters salaries in Canada is just under $60,000. You'll notice at that link that it indicates entry level positions are almost 15% lower, while late career firefighters make about 30% higher. This is the median salary figure, which means its the point at which 50% of firefighters make more and 50% of firefighters make less, as opposed to a mean average which may be greater since skewness in the distribution of wages will pull the mean average towards the higher end. I'm not going to go through and look at police and everything else, but let's be clear about what we're looking at if we're going to throw numbers around.

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I'm really curious about London, ON now. I want to know why they're making so much more. Do they have different responsibilities? Do they have a more difficult time recruiting people than other cities? I don't have the time nor do I care enough to actually look into it, but it is curious.

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I'm not sure what's up with London, ON firefighters, but they seem to be an outlier if these statistics are to be believed. The national average for firefighters salaries in Canada is just under $60,000. You'll notice at that link that it indicates entry level positions are almost 15% lower, while late career firefighters make about 30% higher.

I didn't look up Canada wide salaries. However, you might find this interesting. I came across it while looking things up earlier. Its a couple of years old and suggests London firefighters are actually not as well paid as in other Ontario municipalities.

http://metronews.ca/news/london/781086/london-firefighters-among-lowest-paid-in-region/

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I'm really curious about London, ON now. I want to know why they're making so much more. Do they have different responsibilities? Do they have a more difficult time recruiting people than other cities? I don't have the time nor do I care enough to actually look into it, but it is curious.

If you read the Macleans piece, you'll see that police in Windsor Ontario, make more than the chief of police of Detroit, across the river, and about double what Detroit cops make. Salaries for police in the UK are lower than that for UK firefighters, or about half what police earn in Ontario.

http://www.prospects.ac.uk/police_officer_salary.htm

Meanwhile, teaching salaries in the UK are also well behind what teachers in Ontario earn (average $87k as per Macleans).

http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/about-teaching/salary/pay-and-benefits.aspx?sc_lang=en-GB

Also, salaries in Ontario are considerably higher than those of New York state teachers. New York is not a state known to be cheap with its teachers either.

http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/news/upload/ILR_NYS_TeacherSalaryReport-2.pdf

If you check this site you'll see that, unlike Ontario, police salaries vary widely in New York. Police in New York city earn a lot more than police in smaller areas, like Poughkeepsie, for example. But even New York city cops don't make as much as cops in Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor or London, nor even Timmins or Barrie.

Edited by Scotty

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In the past I have done two of the five public service jobs talked about.

I would rank them in terms of best wages compared to least work (and factoring in the expense and years of education needed) in Ontario as: fire, paramedic, police officer, teacher and nurse.

I would say that the first two are definitely overpaid, with the next two as likely overpaid, and nurses as the only one which I feel is likely about right.

Fire requires no education. Most work 24 hour shifts, which they can do because they are not busy. Most of the firefighters I know work separate jobs, in some cases a second full-time job (something you can do when your firefighting job only takes up 7 or 8 days a month).

Paramedics used to be paid crap 15 - 20 years ago, and the job was harder back then (the old #30 stretchers were complete hell on your back). Now it has swung to the opposite extreme. I worked full-time for 10 years. All it requires is 2 years of college.

Police have a harder job than the previous two. Lots of endless paperwork. No education required, but it is difficult to get hired without some.

I have worked as a teacher too, but quickly decided against making it my career. The job requires far more hours (depending on what you are teaching) than people think. Depending on the class the students can be dreadful to deal with (and sometimes the parents can be worse). Still the pay is good, and the benefits are great. Unlike the other four jobs, there is no shift work. But on the other hand you take a lot of work home work with you, and to be a good teacher the planning never ended. The time off is great, but the vacation time, stat time etc as a paramedic was almost as much. Five years of university (soon to be 6) and tons of upgrading.

For nursing it depends on what you end up doing. Some jobs are very tough, some are pretty simple. 4 years of university. Of the five it is the last one I would choose as a career (but it is the only one with a decent job market at the moment, and for the foreseeable future).

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Fire requires no education.

That hasn't been true for a very long time. As for paramedics, most ambulances in big cities have at least one ICP on board, and that means more than 2 years of education.

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That hasn't been true for a very long time. As for paramedics, most ambulances in big cities have at least one ICP on board, and that means more than 2 years of education.

I guess I will have to tell a friend of mine who was just hired this year in an Ontario city as a firefighter that he was not actually hired.

QUALIFICATIONS:
Education/Experience:
 Secondary school graduation; or
 Equivalent combination of education, training and experience;
 Must be at least 18 years of age;
 Must possess or be able to obtain Standard First Aid, CPR certification and defibrillation certification

The recruitment and selection process consists of six stages: Written Aptitude Test; Health and Medical Fitness Evaluation; Job Related Physical Fitness Test; Resume/Application Review; Reference Checks.

As for ACPs, sure, I have that certification myself. I consider it on the job training, as I know few people who did it without 1) having the service pay for the training 2) getting paid to do the training and 3) receiving time off from work to do it as well.

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I guess I will have to tell a friend of mine who was just hired this year in an Ontario city as a firefighter that he was not actually hired.

QUALIFICATIONS:
Education/Experience:
 Secondary school graduation; or
 Equivalent combination of education, training and experience;
 Must be at least 18 years of age;
 Must possess or be able to obtain Standard First Aid, CPR certification and defibrillation certification

And then once hired, you start working on your provincial, level 1, level 2, and further certifications, some of that before you ever see any action. Not all education takes place before hiring, as is the case for corrections officers, police officers, and in some cases, fire fighters (you can take the certifications on your own, and many departments will not hire without them). Those certifications represent hundreds of hours of training that must be completed.

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If you read the Macleans piece, you'll see that police in Windsor Ontario, make more than the chief of police of Detroit, across the river, and about double what Detroit cops make. Salaries for police in the UK are lower than that for UK firefighters, or about half what police earn in Ontario.

http://www.prospects.ac.uk/police_officer_salary.htm

Detroit is a really bad comparison for a lot of reasons. Windsor Police, I used to live there, have a lot to deal with on the weekends with the bars. A lot of officers take extra hours guarding bars and hotels. They also have additional support on Friday and Saturday nights in the Ouellette Ave corridor. Sometimes requiring overtime when a club has an event. Regardless, these specific examples don't really mean much for the province as a whole. We should look at the median wages province wide. Windsor, being on the border and considered the "Tijuana of the North" has a lot of considerations that a place like Amherstburg or Chatham doesn't.

Meanwhile, teaching salaries in the UK are also well behind what teachers in Ontario earn (average $87k as per Macleans).

http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/about-teaching/salary/pay-and-benefits.aspx?sc_lang=en-GB

Also, salaries in Ontario are considerably higher than those of New York state teachers. New York is not a state known to be cheap with its teachers either.

http://www.ilr.cornell.edu/news/upload/ILR_NYS_TeacherSalaryReport-2.pdf

Again, why the international comparison? Is this not a discussion about why Ontario is having problems versus the rest of the country? What kind of differences are there in the education systems between Canada and the UK? If you're going to take a national average in one country, why not take a national average in our country? I'm not disputing that there might be a problem, I'm just disputing your choice of comparisons and how you're using these numbers.

If you check this site you'll see that, unlike Ontario, police salaries vary widely in New York. Police in New York city earn a lot more than police in smaller areas, like Poughkeepsie, for example. But even New York city cops don't make as much as cops in Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor or London, nor even Timmins or Barrie.

And look at the mess that the New York Police Department has found itself in recently. I don't think anyone would hold them up as a shining example of what police work should be everywhere. Regardless, we're talking again about comparing apples and oranges. Policing in NY is not generalizable to policing in Ontario or even Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, or whatever other city you want to compare it to. Market forces in NY might make recruitment and retention easier for officers in NY than it is to get officers in Timmins and Ottawa (who are probably mostly bilingual) or Windsor (which has other considerations being on the border).

I think you probably have a good point. Maybe Ontario's costs are very high compared to its revenues. I just don't think you're making the best comparisons to support your argument.

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