05/15/2014 10:31 EDT | Updated 07/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Ontario Election 2014: Wynne Raises Spectre Of Walkerton Water Tragedy

WALKERTON, Ont. - Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne raised the spectre of the Walkerton water tragedy Thursday, warning that the Progressive Conservatives' plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs would have consequences.

Wynne visited the Clean Water Centre, which was built in Walkerton following the e-coli contamination of the town's water supply in May 2000 that killed seven people and made thousands more ill.

She stopped just short of saying Tory Leader Tim Hudak's planned job cuts would cause another tragedy.

"Standing here in Walkerton, my message to the people of Ontario is as important as it is clear: decisions have consequences, cuts have consequences, safe drinking water is not an optional service," said Wynne.

"We need to learn from, and avoid returning to the mistakes of Ontario's past."

Wynne warned voters that Hudak's plan will reduce the quality of key services and could put people's safety at risk.

"You cannot fire teachers without affecting the quality of education that our children receive," she said.

"You cannot fire hospital support workers without affecting the quality of care that our families receive, and you cannot fire water or food inspectors without affecting the monitoring of the water we drink and the food that we eat."

Hudak accused Wynne of using the tainted water tragedy to score points with voters ahead of the June 12 election.

The Tory leader said closing the Clean Water Centre was not part of his plan to reduce the size of the public sector by about 10 per cent, and rejected suggestions he'd cut water inspectors or put people at risk with his job cuts.

"I don't think anybody would even contemplate that," he said. "All I've seen from (Wynne) in this campaign is pointing her finger at everybody else. I know that's what weak leadership is, you try to find someone else to blame. That's not me."

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