Ford’s Budget sounds death knell for public services in Ontario, says OFL | The Ontario Federation of Labour

Ford’s Budget sounds death knell for public services in Ontario, says OFL

TORONTO, Mar. 26, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Doug Ford’s obsession with tax cuts and tax credits in today’s provincial Budget sounds the death knell for Ontario’s languishing public services, says the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). The devastating result will be the loss of nearly $8 billion in revenue in 2023-24, which is urgently needed to restore public services like health care and education.

“This Budget will make life harder and more expensive for the people of Ontario,” said Laura Walton, OFL President. “When you don’t fund the services people need, it forces them to pay out of pocket– and that makes the cost-of-living crisis worse for workers and their families.”

“Ford is essentially telling workers: ‘We don’t care that you’re hurting, we’re going to make you pay more.’”

According to Statistics Canada, Ontario’s 2022 program spending per capita was nearly $4,000 less than in other provinces– the lowest program spending per person anywhere in Canada. 

“The decision to starve our public services is not just incompetence,” added Walton. “Ford is hell-bent on privatizing these services, especially health care, and letting the private sector make huge profits off the things Ontarians need.”

Recent reports show dire staffing shortages in Ontario hospitals, long-term care homes, and schools. Nearly $1 billion was spent last year to fill shifts with nurses and personal support workers from private staffing agencies, while more than a quarter of schools experience daily teacher shortages and nearly half have daily shortages of education support workers.

“Workers are exiting these sectors in droves, as a result of this totally unnecessary staffing crisis,” said Walton. “Meanwhile, the estimated wages Ford owes to workers affected by Bill 124 is approaching $14 billion.”

As Ontario’s public health care system continues to crumble, ads for private health care options– to the tune of $450 per person per annually– are popping up on public transit in Toronto.

Other sectors, such as Ontario’s universities and colleges, are also at a breaking point, as decades of underfunding, coupled with rising enrolment, stretch the post-secondary education system to its limit.

“Ford may try to distract us from this crisis by pointing to targeted investments in infrastructure,” noted Walton. “But we’ve heard these promises before– remember the Greenbelt scandal? Ontarians need real investments that benefit regular working people, not Ford’s developer and donor buddies.”

According to the Financial Accountability Office, Ford’s government directed nearly five per cent less of last year’s infrastructure budget to health care, education, transit, and municipal projects– underspending nearly $6.5 billion for those services, despite the urgent need for funds.

Based on its Enough Is Enough campaign, and in consultation with workers across all sectors in Ontario, the OFL prepared a comprehensive suite of public policy solutions in its pre-Budget submission, none of which appear in this Budget.

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. It is the largest provincial labour federation in Canada. Visit OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

This statement is also available at GlobeNewswire.

For more information, please contact: 

Jenny Sellathurai

Interim Director of Communications

Ontario Federation of Labour

jsellathruai@ofl.ca | 416-894-3456

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