News in brief: A look at news, facts and figures shaping the world of payroll professionals

Ontario targets labour costs in bid to cut deficit • Average weekly earnings up 2 per cent from last year: StatsCan • Canada’s stalled jobs market roars back in March • Total payroll, HR admin costs underestimated by 40 per cent • EI recipients up in January: StatsCan
|Canadian Payroll Reporter|Last Updated: 05/07/2012

Ontario targets labour costs in bid to cut deficit

TORONTO (Reuters) —

Ontario’s minority Liberal government put corporate tax cuts on hold and pledged a renewed effort to rein in public sector labour costs in an austerity budget designed to eliminate the deficit in six years and convince rating agencies the province is fiscally sound. The province, which accounts for about 40 per cent of the country’s economy, will run a budget deficit of $15.3 billion in 2011-12 under the budget plan unveiled by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, down $700 million from November’s forecast and below the record $19.3 billion deficit three years ago. The shortfall is seen edging down to $15.2 billion in the coming fiscal year and disappearing by 2017-18. But this requires that the Liberal government, which lost its majority in a hard-fought 2011 election, holds rising health-care costs to just 2.1 per cent annually. This means they must convince powerful public sector unions to accept a wage freeze when contracts with teachers, doctors and other public service workers expire this year. Duncan has faced off against the unions before with only middling success — stymied in part by sympathetic arbitrators. But he pledged this time to rewrite legislation if that is what it takes to control compensation costs that account for over one-half of Ontario’s program spending.