Public sector unions are gearing up for a protest Friday outside the Collingwood resort where the governing Liberals will gather for a weekend conference ahead of the next provincial election.

While politicians hunker down at the “Imagine Ontario’s Future” thinkers’ conference, dozens of demonstrators plan to remind them that they’re punishing low-income families by demanding wage freezes from public sector workers.

“It’s really an attack on the working poor in Ontario,” said Mike Grimaldi of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents 125,000 workers.

More than one million Ontario public sector workers are affected by the freeze on wages and benefits announced in the March budget, a move the government claims will save $750 million as it struggles to rein in $110 billion in red ink over eight years.

Some 750,000 unionized employees will see their compensation packages capped for two years once their contracts expire. The government vowed to immediately freeze salaries for about 310,000 non-unionized workers, but senior managers will still receive performance pay.

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