Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), says today’s budget is a huge disappointment.
“After 10 years, we get nothing for our suffering, just more phony progressive rhetoric from a government that talks from the left, but governs from the right. I am profoundly disappointed.”
“This budget, and the pre-election style funding announcements that preceded it, were just an illusion. It’s basically what we saw in the lead-up to the 2014 budget: retail politics with no substance.
“But who will pay for it? Let’s face it – the Liberals are finally promising overdue funding for health care, housing and child care, but it’s not nearly enough to make up for years of austerity. They want to balance the budget, because they think that will be popular. But there is nothing innovative or promising on the revenue side to pay for their promises.”
The budget includes an increase in program spending of almost five per cent, but that increase lasts just one year, when the rate of increase drops back down to 2.5 per cent – about the cost of inflation and the rate the government has maintained for several years. Thomas said, “That barely addresses the rate of inflation, let alone make up for years of starving the system.”
Health care spending will increase by three per cent, but Thomas pointed out that’s basically covering the two per cent cost of inflation, and one per cent increase in population, nothing more. Both the Financial Accountability Officer and the Ontario Hospital Association have already said the system needs increased spending of at least five per cent just to maintain current service delivery levels.
“This budget includes promises for badly-needed increases in program funding in education, health care and social assistance. There’s no doubt this is desperately needed – in fact long overdue and not nearly enough – but let’s face it – today’s announcement is aimed squarely at voters, with a balanced budget (a campaign promise, they’ll remind us for the next year), and no new taxes.
“The Liberal government is counting on us thinking that all sounds great, but I don’t see the substance. This government wants to sound progressive, but this is not a progressive budget that will help move Ontario forward. I’m calling on all progressive forces across Ontario – please, don’t get fooled again.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931