TORONTO -- Approximately 2,400 Ontario public service employees are taking voluntary buyouts from the Progressive Conservative government as it tackles a multibillion-dollar deficit.

Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy says the departures will bring an immediate cost of $190 million.

But he says the buyouts will eventually bring $215 million in annual savings by 2021-22.

The packages were offered for approximately three months starting last December, and employees have until the end of this year to leave their positions.

Bethlenfalvy says more than 3,300 workers applied for the buyouts but not all were accepted in order to maintain government service levels.

He says the program will help the government deal with an $11.7-million deficit.

"Our clear objective has been to manage the overall size of the Ontario Public Service, which is a key element in our plan to restore sustainability to the province's finances," he said.

Bethlenfalvy says the province currently spends about $72 billion a year on compensation for the broader public sector.

"We are making progress in managing compensation in a way that will continue to ensure that the vital services citizens rely upon are not compromised, while avoiding involuntary job losses," he said.

The province recently announced legislation to limit wage increases for broader public sector workers, including teachers and nurses. The bill would cap wage increases to an average of one per cent a year for three years.