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March 28, 2018

(TORONTO, ON) – On the heels of the release of the  2018 Ontario Budget: A Plan for Care and Opportunity, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President Chris Buckley is calling on the Liberal government to do more in its budget for Ontario workers and their families.

“With an election on the horizon, this government has squandered its chance to give Ontario workers and their families what’s needed to thrive in this province: strong public services,” said OFL President Chris Buckley. “This budget should have ensured that child care, health care, and other social services are universal, publicly funded, fully inclusive, and affordable.”

For instance, the newly proposed Ontario Drug and Dental Program, which plans to reimburse up to 80 per cent of eligible costs, with a cap, for those without workplace health benefits, is insufficient. Given that one in three workers in Ontario do not have workplace medical or dental benefits, the proposed program is far from the universal pharma care and dental care plan that many working Ontarians have been calling for and need.

“It is simply unacceptable that Ontario workers and their families struggle daily in deciding whether to put food on the table, pay rent, or take care of their health.”

Currently, Ontario’s standard of care for long-term residents places it last in the country and among other developed economies. While the budget does include new funding for long-term care, the Liberal’s promise to increase care levels per resident in long-term care facilities to four hours daily is not reflected in their funding commitment.

“Just last week, the Ontario government prorogued parliament and shut down an act that would have provided much needed minimum care standards for seniors in long-term care,” said Buckley. “Ontarians shouldn’t have to wait until 2022, when the government can take concrete and immediate steps to legislate much needed reforms for our aging population now.”

The OFL does welcome proposed measures to provide more affordable child care to help parents return to the workforce. However, the implementation of free preschool for children aged two‐and‐a‐half until they are eligible for kindergarten, will not start until 2020 and will not help build capacity for the spaces that need to be expanded. The announcement also leaves behind women in low paying precarious jobs who are often forced back to work earlier for financial reasons.

While the increase in social assistance rates is applauded, it fails to reverse Harris’ cuts. This budget, like the many budgets that have come before from this government, does nothing to stop the privatization of public assets and services.

“The selloff of Hydro One will continue to hurt Ontarians. We are calling on this government to reverse its course on privatization and put public services back into public hands,” said Buckley.

Further, the 2018 budget did not allocate funding nor include a proposed strategy for Ontario’s injured workers, who continue to struggle under the WSIB’s changes that benefit employers over workers.

“With an election coming up, the Ontario public expected – and deserved — a better plan,” said Buckley.

The OFL represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For more information, visit www.ofl.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

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For more information, contact:

Ogho Ikhalo, Communications, 416-443-7654

oikhalo@ofl.ca

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