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Ont. labour groups to protest proposed budget cuts

More than 90 labour groups and other organizations plan to protest the minority Liberals’ proposed budget at a rally at Queen’s Park on Saturday.

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) launched a campaign called “We Are Ontario” on Friday. It’s calling on the Liberals to rethink budget cuts that it says will affect poor and middle-class families.

Saturday’s rally starts at 3 p.m. and will end with a march through the Yorkville shopping district.

Premier Dalton McGuinty’s budget faces a crucial vote on Tuesday. The Liberals need the support of at least two opposition members for their financial plan to pass.

The Progressive Conservatives have already said they’ll vote against the plan.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has called on the Liberals to make changes, including implementing a job creation tax for businesses and a tax increase on people who earn more than $500,000 a year, in exchange for her party’s support.

OFL president Sid Ryan wants the Liberals to force corporations to take on some of the burden as the province struggles to rein in a $15.3-billion budget deficit. The labour organization claims the proposed service and job cuts are the biggest since the Mike Harris-era.

“This is the unfairness of this budget … We’re going to freeze [rates for people on] ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). We’re going to go after the working poor. We’re going to say to unions we’re going to suspend your charitable rights,” Ryan said at Queen’s Park on Friday.

“And yet to corporations we’re saying … we will not give you the extra billions we promised you that we would give you next year.”

The Liberals are asking for a public sector wage freeze. They’re also asking for freezes on welfare rates and a delay on Ontario Child Benefit increases.