Ontario has a serious financial problem. It spends much more than it takes in. But which side is to blame? The spending or the revenue?
Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives argue that Ontario's government bureaucracy is bloated and inefficient. The PC leader has pledged to cut 100,000 public sector jobs over four years if he becomes premier. Hudak says cutting the public fat will help kickstart the rest of the economy.
The only problem is that, compared to other provinces, Ontario's public service doesn't seem that bloated.
If Hudak gets his cuts, Ontario will have the lowest percentage of population employed in the public sector in all of Canada. If you remove federal workers from the equation, the numbers are even lower.
The calculations above are for the entire public sector, much of which Hudak won't be able to touch. They include numbers for public administration at the federal, provincial, municipal and First Nations levels, as well as Crown corporations, liquor control boards, schools (including universities), hospitals and public libraries. Hudak has signaled that teachers in particular will be a major target of his cuts.
However, while Ontario's public sector may not be bloated in size, its pay is another matter.
Ontario ranks second in the country in weekly public sector wages. But Ontario also has a comparatively high cost of living. It has the second-highest home prices in Canada, behind British Columbia, and had the second-highest average household expenditure in 2012 behind Alberta.
Of course, comparisons between provinces are never apples to apples. More rural provinces have different needs than more urban provinces and some provinces outsource more services than others.
Nevertheless, the numbers present a telling look at whether Ontario's public sector really is the bloated behemoth that Hudak claims. And they certainly say more about the state of the economy than the sort of graphics you'll get from the Hudak campaign.
This is actually a graph on the Ontario PCs' website. Very informative pic.twitter.com/ybjKlY07j2— Michael Bolen (@MichaelBolen) May 20, 2014
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