The following chronology sets out the various
measures leading up to the current budget situation at the Ontario
Legislature. This brief but accurate chronology is helpful in
guiding us through the various news stories and headlines.
In the coming days we will continue to update the
chronology. The result of this process has a huge impact on all OPSEU
June 21, 2012
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas addressed
issues concerning the new Ontario Budget on CTV News shortly
after it was passed on June 20, 2012.
The Ontario Budget Bill 55 clears the
Legislature, but not without changes forced by NDP Leader Andrea
Horwath and the caucus.
Her grueling two-month battle to make the
legislation less damaging for workers yielded significant gains,
particularly around privatization, arbitration, and
deregulation, as described in June 14, 18, and 19 entries.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas and First
Vice-President Eddy Almeida are at the Legislature to
congratulate New Democrats on holding the Liberals accountable.
Eyes now turn to the Kitchener-Waterloo
byelection. OPSEU members well understand the importance of
making sure the seat doesn’t go to the Liberals.
They will have to introduce new legislation in
the Fall to do what they tried to do in defeated portions of
their budget bill. These affect the sell-off of ServiceOntario,
and would be certain to pass into law if the Liberals were to
gain a majority.
Legislation also passes that, as Horwath
demanded, imposes a two-per-cent surtax on Ontarians who earn
more than $500,000.
The NDP and Tory members of the committee
vote down Schedule 30 containing changes to the Hospital
Labour Disputes Arbitration Act
which covers health care workers who do not have the right to
Changes proposed by the government to this
Act would have imposed unreasonable time frames on the
parties and Arbitrators as well as weighted the presentation and
consideration of evidence in favour
of Employers. The changes would have resulted in higher costs,
more litigation and greater uncertainty.
In fact, all schedules pertaining to
interest arbitration were defeated in this process,
The Standing Committee on Finance and
Economic Affairs passes Bill 55 with many amendments. Bill 55
goes back to the Legislature on Wednesday, June 20.
June 18, 2012
The Tories vote with the Liberals to pass
Schedule 28 with a tightened scope so that it applies mostly to
Liberals and Tories defeat NDP amendments
that would have delayed the ServiceOntario
sell-off until impact studies were done by
Auditor General, Privacy Commissioner, and Ombudsman.
NDP amendment for whistleblowers protection
Because the Tories voted with them, the
Liberals now have the power to sell the agency off, but
obstacles remain. The Liberals ask the Committee to go back and
revisit schedules 6, 7, and 13. For this to occur, unanimous
support is required. While the PCs agreed, the NDP did not.
This meant the schedules remain defeated
The Liberals will have to introduce new
legislation specific to ServiceOntario
to do what Schedules 6, 7, and 13 would have done.
This would have to happen in the Fall
The Tories support the NDP’s significant
amendments to Schedule 16, rendering it nearly unworkable. It
would have allowed for deregulation through the expansion of
Delegated Administrative Authorities. This could have threatened
jobs of thousands of OPS members in inspection, investigation,
and enforcement roles.
June 14, 2012
The Standing Committee on Finance and
Economic Affairs begins discussion and votes on amendments of
The NDP and Tory members vote to delete
Schedules 6, 7, and 13, which relate to privatization of
government services. Liberals are most unhappy about losing
them. This may be an obstacle to the
The NDP and Tory members defeated Schedule
1, which relates to interest arbitration for ambulance workers.
Changes proposed by the government to the Ambulance Services
Collective Bargaining Act would have imposed unreasonable
time frames on parties required to go to interest arbitration
for the resolution of their contract, as well as weighted the
evidence in favour of employers.
The changes would have resulted in higher
costs, more litigation and greater uncertainty.
June 11, 2012
Ontario Ombudsman raises concerns that Bill
55 will remove oversight and accountability requirements for
services, once privatized.
June 6, 2012
President Thomas appears before the
hearings. He tells the all-party legislative committee its
budget is harmful to workers and the Ontario economy.
He says it must delete Schedule 28, the
Bill 55 section that will allow the privatization of
ServiceOntario. He expresses deep
concerns about turning personal information collected to issue
birth certificates and drivers’ licences
over to private corporations.
He is joined by
prominent Toronto lawyer Paul Cavalluzzo
who confirms the risk to private information if
ServiceOntario goes to a U.S.
company or its subsidiary.
Three hours after the warnings from Thomas
and Cavalluzzo, the government
announces they’ve had to shut down
kiosks because of a security breach that day.
June 5, 2012
argument to send Bill 55 to public hearings and keep Legislature
open for longer this session.
April, May, June
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is
in frequent contact with Horwath
about the budget, its impact on OPSEU members and all Ontarians,
and the best means of holding the Liberals accountable.
In the Legislature,
Horwath grills the Premier and Finance Minister about the
government’s plan to privatize
ServiceOntario. OPSEU’s campaign against the ServiceOntario sell-off and
legislative pressure provokes intense discussion among MPPs.
May 7, 2012
OPSEU’s research staff meets with Ministry
of Labour staff to discuss concerns
over Schedules 1 and 30, which relate to arbitration.
April 24, 2012
The 17 NDP MPPs abstain from the budget
vote. This allows it to pass, but there are problems that need
to be addressed.
April 23, 2012
Premier Dalton McGuinty to agree to
some of her conditions.
Most notably, Ontario will impose a surtax
on incomes over $500,000, freeze corporate tax cuts, and spend
more for childcare, northern hospitals, welfare and disability
March 27, 2012
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan tables the
Ontario Budget. OPSEU calls it a “shameful disaster”. Bill 55
Privatization of government services,
Changes to arbitration for health care
and emergency services;
Increased deregulation of public
services, such as highway safety.
Concentration of power at Cabinet
level. It removes accountability and oversight of public
services by the Legislature, Privacy Commissioner,
Ombudsman, and Auditor General.
With a minority government, the Liberals
need support from Tories or NDP to get the Budget through the
Tories say no.
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath enters discussions with
Premier Dalton McGuinty to force
improvements to the budget without sending Ontarians to the
polls only six months after the last election.