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Ontario at bottom for good jobs, social spending: Report

Posted: November 19, 2015

(November 19, 2015)

By: Sara Mojtehedzadeh, Work and Wealth Reporter

While Ontario’s rich are getting richer, the province now has the highest proportion of minimum wage workers in the country — while social spending is now the lowest in Canada, according to a new report.

General Motors, in Oshawa, has shed hundreds of jobs as some production shifted to the U.S. Ontario has lost almost 318,000 manufacturing jobs since 2000.

Job seekers beware: if you’re looking for work in Ontario, hunker down for a long wait. And if you’re lucky enough to snag something, get ready to work for the bare minimum.

Ontario now boasts the highest proportion of minimum wage workers in Canada and one of the worst rates of long-term unemployment in the country, according to a new report by an anti-poverty coalition representing 90 community and labour organizations across the province.

“Today, Ontario has slid to the bottom of the country, or near it, on key labour force measures,” says the study by the Ontario Common Front.

At the same time, decades of cutbacks on social programs have left Ontarians with little insulation against an increasingly precarious job market — and left the province with the lowest levels of public service spending per capita in the entire country, the report finds.

The report shows that Ontarians now pay more for health-care expenses than any other province. Funding per student for post-secondary education is the lowest in the country. Wait times for affordable housing and long-term care are the longest nationwide, and child-care costs are the highest.

Natalie Mehra, the study’s author and director of the Ontario Health Coalition, said the rollbacks have “body checked” Ontarians at a time when changes to the economy and job market are leaving more people in need of social support.

“It’s terrible policy and it’s devastating,” she said.

Drawing on Statistics Canada data, the report is one of the few comprehensive studies of employment, income equality, and social spending over the past several decades. It paints a picture of declining job quality, stagnating incomes, and squeezed public services in Ontario.

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