New Democrats Claim Premier Ford’s Government Held Back $5.6 Billion in COVID Funds

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QUEEN’S PARK – POLITICS – Ontario New Democrats say that Premier Doug Ford withheld $5.6 billion that should have been used to protect Ontario families from COVID, put more nurses and PSWs into health care and make schools and daycares safer. The comments come from NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh and NDP Finance critic Catherine Fife.

The NDP say that newly released 2020-21 Public Accounts of Ontario show the Ford Conservatives massively underspent its own budget for critical services, including withholding $3.5 billion budgeted for health care.

“He had the money. He didn’t want to spend it on people,” said Singh. “This is a gut punch to parents who are sending their children to schools and daycares that Doug Ford should have and could have made safer. It’s a blow to workers who don’t have enough paid sick days. It’s demoralizing for front line health care heroes who are understaffed, feeling disrespected, and burnt out. And it’s infuriating for small businesses and their staff — who have taken hit after hit because of Ford’s choices.”

This public accounts update comes just after the independent Financial Accountability Officer showed that Doug Ford has not spent one dime yet in of the $2.7 billion dollars in funding set aside for COVID response in the 2021 budget.

“The public accounts report shows that Doug Ford could have blunted the third wave. He chose not to,” said Fife. “And every time Doug Ford refuses to spend money on services families count on, it’s real families like ours that pay the price. From seniors living and dying in horrifying conditions, to small businesses condemned to closing their doors forever, to our loved ones waiting in pain for a procedure or surgery backlogged during the pandemic, Ford could have helped, and he didn’t.

“What would the NDP do differently? We’d hire people in health care and long-term care urgently. We’d invest in a safe schools plan for our children. We’d beef up public health units instead of cutting them, as Ford is doing. We’d help small businesses, workers and the tourism sector. And we’d be there for municipalities now struggling with shortfalls, because they’ve been doing everything they can to pick up Ford’s slack.”

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