TORONTO – Today, Ontario’s Doug Ford government introduced a budget that puts private profits and private interests over people, fair pay and public services.
The budget arrives in the wake of a shocking report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) revealing that the Ford government will be short $21 billion to cover its commitments to expand hospitals, long-term care and home care. Without real investments a shortage of frontline workers will continue.
“This budget takes credit for ‘savings’ achieved by not paying workers fairly, withholding raises, and poorly staffing public services,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President JP Hornick. “Lots of goodies for Doug Ford’s insiders and the wealthiest, with no relief for the workers on the ground who are left struggling with wage constraints, understaffing and layoffs.
“This budget is about manufacturing a crisis, not fixing it,” added Hornick.
Last week, Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston announced the layoffs of over a dozen nurses. In Hamilton, the Elizabeth Fry Society announced they will be closing their doors next week after more than 50 years providing support to women. This follows similar social services closure announcements due to financial and staffing issues.
While the Ford government’s Bill 124 was declared unconstitutional by the Ontario Superior Court, the budget did not include a commitment to repeal the bill. The Ford government has launched a costly appeal of the decision.
“People are struggling with a cost-of-living crisis while this government takes workers to court to continue an agenda of wage suppression that hurts all workers, and especially racialized workers, women and the most vulnerable,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Laurie Nancekivell.
The budget included a massive $780-million tax cut to corporations, yet it cancelled paid sick days and failed to include any minimum wage enhancements, or increases for people who rely on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program. Funding for public services — like healthcare, education, post-secondary education and social services — is lower in this budget than the government’s own projections from last fall.
“The economy in Ontario is sound and the way to support our economy is by investing in the people, workers and public services responsible for building it,” said Hornick.