OPSEU Points Out Not All Members Are Making Top Dollar

The president of the Treasury Board of Ontario says he will be looking at how to reduce the $72-billion a year the province spends on public sector wages.

Peter Bethlenfalvy said Thursday that the province has sent a letter to public sector employers and bargaining agents, saying it's considering legislating hard caps on allowable pay increases.

Bethlenfalvy says public sectors workers have earned what he describes as their ``generous'' pay but says the government must ensure the sustainability of programs and services.

President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Warren 'Smokey' Thomas wants people to know that they have many members who are professional but not making top dollar.

He points out that many could make more money in the private sector, but work in the public sector, because they believe in what they do.

Speaking on AM800's The Lynn Martin Show,Thomas says he's glad the Treasury Board president said that existing contracts won't be opened.

"That's good because {Dalton} McGuinty and {Kathleen} Wynne tried that and lost, it's a legally binding contract," he says.  "But his notion here, our generous wages in the public sector and increases need to be modest, well most public sector workers took at least two or three-years worth of zeros, many years of half a percent."

He admits there are OPSEU members who are paid well, and some are not.

"I believe they're fairly paid, some are underpaid," he says.  "Our correction officers and nurses in corrections facilities could do better out, a nurse could go work in a nursing home and make more money and not have all the headaches. So I would ask people to kind of think about when generalized statements are made that you know 'well maybe there's more to this story' it is a complicated story, there's no doubt about that."

Any measures could impact teachers, professors, nurses, Crown attorneys, provincial police officers, power workers and thousands of other public-sector staff.