PC leader Tim Hudak has wrapped himself in the persona of being the jobs candidate. He claims that his government would create a million jobs in Ontario – a 15 per cent increase to the existing 6.9 million jobs (full-time, part-time, casual) that existed in 2013. Jobs are important, especially in the context of the social determinants of health, but the PC party platform would need to create closer to 1.2 million jobs to offset those it would first kill through cuts to the public sector and its subsequent spin-off impact on the private sector.
There have been many economists who have found the million jobs promise more than just a stretch. Just because you say something doesn’t make it true. The PCs believe if you say it a lot, it will make it so. Unifor economist Jim Stanford, writing this week in the Progressive Economics Forum, says to meet that challenge the economy would have to “significantly accelerate” real growth in excess of 3 per cent annually. There are times when we have done that – most recently in 2003, 2007 and 2011, but that isn’t sustained and consecutive growth.
Stanford notes eliminating the provincial deficit would negatively impact the economy by 2.4 per cent, which is a big hole to dig out of, especially if you plan on rushing that objective. What would a 2.4 per cent reduction in GDP mean for jobs? According to Stanford, en route to his million jobs promise Hudak would start by eliminating about 165,000 jobs in the province.
Economist “Jimbo” Stanford speaking Sunday morning at the Ontario Health Coalition conference.
Somebody suggested that the CBC would be a far more interesting place if the Lang-O’Leary Exchange morphed into the Lang-Jimbo Reality Show.
Now that’s a CBC we might be inclined to fight a little harder to protect.
There are not many economists who would take on the moniker of “Jimbo,” but Jim Stanford doesn’t shy away from it. Speaking at the Ontario Health Coalition weekend conference at the Toronto Sheraton Centre, the Unifor economist and founder of the Progressive Economics Forum was in high spirits.
“An economist is someone who is good with numbers but hasn’t the personality to be an accountant,” he told the crowd with a big wide grin. Don’t be fooled, “Jimbo” has personality to spare.
With a Master’s degree from Cambridge and a Phd from New York’s New School for Social Research, Stanford doesn’t come across as pedantic. Early Sunday morning he finds ways to convey complex economic principles clearly to a mixed community audience of under-caffeinated seniors, labour and young people interested in health care advocacy.
Stanford has been doing this for much of his career, including writing Economics for Everyone: A short guide to the economics of capitalism. That textbook has become a staple for those who wish to know more about how economics work in order to take on the issues of the day.
“Health care (costs) are going up because we are aging and we are willing to pay more,” he said this weekend. Stanford explained that it’s rational that Canadians would want to take advantage of new technologies that would extend their lives or improve the quality of life.
Officially Ontario ended its recession in 2009, but the effects still linger in 2013.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates the “great recession” of 2008-09 and the slow recovery has taken the Ontario economy $70 billion off course. That means $12.4 billion in lost annual revenues to government – or more than our current deficit.
Austerity has not been successful in other jurisdictions, yet the Wynne government has so far said it will stay the course, impacting public services including health care.
The United Kingdom has now endured a triple-dip recession as a result of deep cuts in public spending by the Cameron government. Could more austerity by the federal, provincial and municipal governments send our own economy into negative territory, impacting both private and public sectors?
Traditional thinking has been you stimulate during lean years and grow out of your deficits in more flush times. In 2003 the Conservative government left Ontario a surprise deficit of $5.5 billion. Despite significant reinvestment in the public sector – including health – the province was able to quickly grow out of the deficit and run three years of balanced budgets.
CAW economist Jim Stanford and Algoma University professor Dr. Gayle Broad speak at the last two Ontario Health Coalition forums this week.
Broad speaks tonight in Sudbury as part of a panel with SEIU VP Cathy Carroll and OHC Director Natalie Mehra at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76, 1553 Weller Street.
Tomorrow night Stanford speaks in Windsor with Mehra at the CAW 195/2458 Union Hall at 3400 Somme Avenue.
Both forums begin at 7 pm.