Public sector unions are warning Premier Dalton McGuinty not to try forcing their members to bear the brunt of the costs of eliminating Ontario’s record $24.7 billion deficit.

On Thursday, McGuinty suggested the government was looking at unpaid days off for nurses, teachers and other public sector workers to help eliminate the deficit, and said they had been “sheltered” from the worst effects of the global recession so far.

“We don’t agree with that assessment at all,” said Randy Robinson of the Ontario Public Sector Employees Union, which represents 125,000 workers, including 45,000 direct civil servants.

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario also disagreed that nurses had been “sheltered” from the impacts of the global recession, and said the province should consider running a deficit longer than planned rather than cutting public services.

Both suggested increasing income tax.