Tim Hudak Taking Hit Over Vow To Kill 100,000 Public Sector Jobs, Poll Suggests

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Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak delivers a speech while campaigning in Toronto, Ont. on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak delivers a speech while campaigning in Toronto, Ont. on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

Tim Hudak's controversial pledge to cut 100,000 public sector positions could keep the Ontario PC leader from obtaining the job he wants, a new poll suggests.

And, according to a survey released by Forum Research on Wednesday, the numbers for Hudak's party are starting to slide just as Ontarians learn more about his "million jobs plan."

The poll, conducted Monday among 996 Ontarians using interactive voice-response phone calls, found 62 per cent strongly disagree with Hudak's plan to cut public sector roles over four years as part of his strategy to streamline government and create more than one million private-sector jobs in the province by 2022. The survey results have a margin of error of three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Tory leader has said that while nurses and police would be exempt from such cuts, teachers and bureaucrats will be impacted.

"Apparently, promising to fire 100,000 of their neighbours doesn't engender warm feelings of support among the electorate," said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff in a news release.

"Tim Hudak may have forgotten that there's proverbially a teacher in every family in Ontario, and it’s teachers who will bear the brunt of those cuts."

Twenty-six per cent of those surveyed agree with the bold move, while 11 per cent weren't sure.

Forum now has Kathleen Wynne's Ontario Liberals at 38 per cent support (up five percentage points since May 2), with the Tories at 33 per cent (down five points since May 2), New Democrats at 21 per cent and the Greens at five per cent.

"This is a sudden reversal in Tim Hudak's fortunes to have happened in just the space of a few days," said Bozinoff in the release.

In fact, Forum says Wynne could capture a majority with those kinds of numbers.

It seems Ontarians are also having a hard time buying Hudak's signature campaign pledge that he can create more than one million jobs in less than 10 years. Only 26 per cent of those surveyed believe that goal is achievable while two-thirds say it is not.

It appears Hudak has his work cut out for him to convince Ontarians that you can produce jobs by first killing 100,000.

But Hudak said this week that more than 523,000 jobs in his "million jobs plan" would be created anyway if the government simply continued the policies of the last decade of Liberal rule.

He says hundreds of thousands of other jobs can be created by reducing the corporate tax rate to eight per cent, abolishing the College of Trades, eliminating restrictions on the skilled trades and reducing personal income tax by 10 per cent once the budget is balanced.

At his platform launch Wednesday, Hudak detailed a plan to cut program spending by six per cent over the next four years to balance the books and reach a $319-million surplus in 2016-17.

He said the Tories will increase health-care spending but when it comes to education, they'll increase class sizes, change staffing levels in full-day kindergarten classes and kill a 30 per cent tuition grant for post-secondary students.

Last Friday, a poll by Iposos-Reid had Ontario Tories boasting a six-point lead over the Liberals with more Ontarians beginning to see Hudak as a potential premier.

The poll also revealed what Ipsos called a "growing desire for change" in the province with nearly 72 per cent of Ontarians saying it is time for another party to take over.

Ontario voters head to the polls on June 12.

With files from The Canadian Press

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