QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says Ontario’s 2021 budget was an opportunity to give people help to make it through the pandemic and hope for the future, but it didn’t do that.
“The pandemic’s not over. The pain continues for people and families. This budget was an opportunity to give people the help they need to get to the other side, and to give folks a future with hope. This budget doesn’t do that,” said Horwath.
“If this were our budget, the NDP would invest urgently to get more help to the survivors in long-term care. But this budget maintains the disastrous status quo. We would hire more teachers and education workers to help students through this rocky time. Instead, the government is taking those caring adults away from them. We would tackle the backlog of surgeries like the urgent crisis it is, but underfunding has dimmed the hope for a quick surgery date for people waiting in pain. And we would focus on jobs, equity and the she-covery. Despite the ongoing need to save local businesses and recover all the jobs we’ve lost, Doug Ford is sticking with the same failed programs and neglect that allowed countless entrepreneurs to lose their businesses in the first and second waves.”
The Ford government’s 2021 budget does not add any new supports for long-term care residents, sticking with a timeline that doesn’t add PSWs or achieve four hours of hands on care for another four years or more. It also slashes $790 million from schools, compared to spending during the pandemic year — taking Ontario back to 2019 spending levels, when the Ford government was cutting 10,000 teachers and education workers and hiking class sizes. Knowing that well over $700 million is necessary to tackle the still-growing surgical backlog, the budget allocates only $300 million.
Horwath says, “Missing from the budget are paid sick days, and paid time off for people to get vaccines. Also missing is a new hospital for Brampton, and the emergency room that Peel Memorial needs. Scarborough families are also denied any more hospital capacity”.
Overall, the budget cuts $4.8 billion from program spending. Most of that is due to the end of pandemic funds — while the pandemic isn’t over.
“Now is the time to invest in people. Ontarians deserved a budget that gave them help getting to the other side of the pandemic, and hope for a future they can look forward to,” said Horwath. “They’re still counting on us, and New Democrats will keep fighting for investments to help people make it to the other side, and build a better future.”