SARNIA, Ont. — The Liberal government has offered excuses but has no plans for Ontario's struggling manufacturing industry and seems unfazed by ballooning job losses, New Democrat Leader Howard Hampton said Friday.
As Statistics Canada reported that about 11,000 Ontario manufacturing jobs were lost in September, and an American company announced it is closing a Huntsville, Ont., factory and laying off 163 people, Hampton said the Liberals have refused to give the sector any significant help.
''If our plan had been put in place three years ago I think a number of the manufacturing jobs that had been lost could've been avoided,'' Hampton said.
''But Dalton McGuinty simply goes around the province saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I feel your pain but there's nothing I can do,' and that's how Dalton McGuinty continues to let down working people.''
Hampton said there's plenty that could be done to help the struggling sector. He said he would lower industrial hydro rates, bring in a jobs commissioner and introduce legislation to reduce the layoffs.
Speaking in Markham, Ont., McGuinty pointed out that jobs actually increased by about 30,000 overall in September in Ontario, while the unemployment rate decreased by 0.2 per cent to 6.2 per cent.
''I think it's 96 per cent of all the new, full-time jobs we've created pay $19.65 an hour or more — these are good jobs,'' McGuinty said, while admitting there are challenges in the manufacturing sector.
A day after Hampton lashed out at the media for not paying attention to the ''real issues'' of the election, he admitted he didn't actually tune in to the TV news to see how his day on the campaign trail was covered.
''To tell you the truth I don't ever see the media coverage,'' a much calmer Hampton told reporters.
''I don't sit up late at night. I have things to prepare. I have kids to get to bed. I have work to do. So I don't sit in front of the television watching what you guys may or may not have said.''
When asked why he would complain about media coverage he hasn't actually seen, he stammered before saying the general focus of the campaign has been on the debate over funding for faith-based schools, and the media has pushed that issue forward.
''For three weeks the media seems to have been focused on one issue that doesn't effect the majority of people across Ontario, and there are real issues like this issue that I think have been avoided in this campaign.''
Hampton also continued to attack Progressive Conservative John Tory and has ramped up those attacks in recent days.
''John Tory has run a completely ineffective campaign, his campaign has been a disaster,'' Hampton said, adding that he ''doesn't have the right stuff.''