December 10, 2020
A report released by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) on December 8 revealed the Ford government is hoarding $12 billion in unspent contingency funds. This is up $2.7 billion from August 26 when the FAO reported $9.3 billion in the reserves. These funds from the COVID-19 Health Sector Response Fund and the Support for People and Jobs Fund should go towards helping Ontarians through the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, instead they are sitting untouched.
“Ontarians are in the middle of a crisis,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President. “Now is not the time to stockpile funds that are meant to support people in need.” The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of public services in keeping our workplaces and our communities safe and healthy. Instead of ensuring the people of Ontario are taken care of through investments in health care, education and social services, the Ford government has prioritized tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Ontarians and stashed away funds meant to help those who need it most.
This government’s lack of action during the second wave of this pandemic has strained Ontario’s already struggling health care system and left those who have lost work because of the pandemic without adequate financial support. “Instead of making empty promises the Ford government should turn their words into action and spend the funds earmarked to help Ontarians through the second wave,” said Coates.
While $12 billion in COVID-19 relief funding remains unused, the Ontario government adjourned the legislature early without debating important Motions and Bills that could be supported through these unused funds, like the implementation of paid sick days and the urgent investments and support needed in long-term care. Ontarians deserve a government that is willing to implement and fund measures that will protect them in times of crisis. The Ford government needs to step up and invest in keeping workers and their communities healthy and safe.