From a release
QUEEN’S PARK – Today, Ernie Hardeman, Oxford MPP and PC Critic for Agriculture and Food, questioned the Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food, Kathleen Wynne, on why her Ministry increased wages and benefits by more than 4% despite telling farmers there was no more money for priority programs.
“Because your government spent Ontario into a fiscal mess, you said you needed to put a cap on the Risk Management Program – the insurance program that our farmers depend on,” said Ernie Hardeman. “How do you explain to those farmers that there was no more money to help them, but you were able to find enough money to increase salaries and benefits at OMAFRA by more than 4%?”
Estimates for 2013-2014 show that the budget items for salaries and wages are increasing by $3.63 million, an increase of more than 4% compared to 2012-2013 Public Accounts. The budget for the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is reported with the Ministry of Rural Affairs.
In the 2012 budget, the government reiterated its commitment to freezing compensation, estimating this would save $6 billion over three years.
“You claim you have a wage freeze but the Ministry under your direct control is increasing wages and benefits by more than $3.6 million. To me a wage freeze doesn’t mean a 4% increase in salaries,” said Hardeman.
During the question, Hardeman asked Wynne to table a real plan for Ontario’s finances as part of the Fall Economic Update which is scheduled for November 7.
“We need to get Ontario’s finances back on track so that we can afford to provide the services Ontarians rely on – health care, education and for our farmers – insurance programs,” said Hardeman. “On November 7 will you commit to table a real plan to address Ontario’s finances, including a real wage freeze?”