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Politics

Doug Ford’s government and NDP opposition battle over Ontario’s job numbers

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks in the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, on Monday, October 28, 2019. .
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks in the Ontario Legislature in Toronto, on Monday, October 28, 2019. . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The Ontario government and the NDP opposition are battling over jobs numbers in the province, with each side releasing information Friday to support its own narrative.

Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade, said since the PC government’s election in June of 2018, employment numbers in Ontario have risen by 256,200.

READ MORE: Ontario government’s fiscal update shows deficit now down to $9B

“The government has a plan to create an environment that attracts investment and encourages entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and create high-paying, good quality jobs in Ontario, and we are seeing the results of that,” Fedeli said in a statement released Friday.

Shortly after Fedeli’s statement, Catherine Fife, the NDP’s economic growth and job creation critic, released one of her own, citing last month’s Labour Force Survey, which shows Ontario shed 24,200 full-time jobs in October.

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“Ontario’s manufacturing sector lost 17,500 jobs last month,” Fife said. “Those are good, mortgage-paying jobs you can raise a family on. In Thunder Bay alone, 200 Bombardier jobs will be lost today. That means tens of thousands of families are hurting right now, worrying about how they’re going to keep the heat on and put food on the table.”

Ontario finance minister says province will beat projected deficit by $1.3 billion
Ontario finance minister says province will beat projected deficit by $1.3 billion

On Wednesday, the provincial government released its fall economic statement, which included a proposal to reduce the small business tax rate by 8.7 per cent starting next year.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips says the move would help 275,000 businesses in the province and help stimulate job growth. Phillips also claims his party’s legislation is moving the province in the right direction.

“Solving these challenges has not been about grand gestures, but rather the practical and meaningful actions that help make life easier and more affordable for people, like reducing taxes, investing in health care and education, and building modern transit and roads,” said Phillips.

READ MORE: Ontario government passes bill to cap public sector wage increases at 1 per cent

However, Fife says the PC government’s policies thus far are actually taking the province backwards when it comes to the economy. She says in health care alone, thousands of jobs have been lost.

“Under the Liberals, Ontario lost 300,000 manufacturing jobs, and health care was left hanging by a thread. Instead of fixing those problems, it looks like Doug Ford is putting Ontario on the path from bad to worse,” Fife said.

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On Friday Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner weighed in, saying “The Premier cannot have it both ways, claiming credit for solid economic numbers while repeating a false narrative that pollution pricing is causing a recession.” Schreiner referred to Premier Doug Ford’s continued battle against a federal carbon tax “It’s not pollution pricing that will kill jobs. It will be the Premier’s regressive economic plan that is completely silent on $26 trillion global clean economy.”

According to Statistics Canada, most of the job growth across the country in September was concentrated in Ontario, where 41,100 jobs were created and the unemployment rate was down to 5.3 percent.