Politics 2.0 – Sarah Campbell, “Budget Falls Short”

Queen's Park Report Sarah Campbell

KENORA – POLITICS – Sarah Campbell, MPP for Kenora-Rainy River shares, “Northerners are struggling with the high costs, poor access to services and long wait times that has become part of everyday day life in our area. They have told me that they were looking to the provincial government to provide health care that works for us in the north: home care when and where we need it, better access to health treatments closer to home in Ontario and Manitoba, a Northern Health Travel Grant program that covers the true costs of accessing medical care, and dedicated long-term care beds in Sioux Lookout to address the growing needs in our region. This budget fails to offer relief in any of these health-related areas, nor does it offer any commitment to four-lane the Trans-Canada highway west of Thunder Bay, or any much-needed relief on our hydro bills by offering reductions to the costs of electricity.

“While this budget pledges to make changes to drug and dental coverage, it falls short of creating meaningful change: the $50 per year that the plan allocates for children’s dental, won’t cover a single checkup, let alone a filling. The mandatory 20% copay and reimbursement structure which requires payment upfront does little to help individuals and families who are already struggling to afford services.

“One of the most encouraging components of the budget is that which commits to offering free pre-school childcare for children aged 2.5-4 years old. While this commitment does not, as the Liberals suggest, “get parents back to work,” as it leaves significant gaps for infant and toddler care, it helps to alleviate some of the tremendous financial burden from parents, but allowing them to return to work sooner. As a mother of young children, I can personally attest to the outrageous cost of daycare, with a single child costing up to $1,000 a month. For parents with more than one young child, it is totally cost prohibitive to enroll your children in daycare and return to work. More needs to be done to make childcare affordable in Ontario, and this move—while it leaves out children younger than 2.5—is a step in the right direction. What is most concerning about this announcement, though, is the Liberals’ “choice” language, which is potentially signaling a move towards increased corporatization and privatization of the sector.

“Overall, aside from a couple shiny baubles, this budget falls flat in terms of providing some of the relief and support that northerners are desperately seeking. The Liberals have had 15 years to make meaningful progress in the areas of importance to us, such as in the areas of health, hydro and transportation, but after this long reign they have little to show us.”