TORONTO – Today’s budget deal raises taxes on the wealthy but does nothing for average Ontarians, said Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
“Multiple polls said the same thing: Ontarians support a tax on high-earners if it means preserving and enhancing public services. No one said revenue from increased taxes for the wealthy should focus on the deficit while public services face massive cuts,” said Hahn.
The budget amendments include a 2 per cent surtax for people making more than $500,000.00 a year. But instead of using that revenue to prevent cuts to hospitals, schools and other public services, the Liberals are only using the money to pay down the deficit.
Amendments include moving money from school board budgets to fund child care, and creating a $20 million “transition” fund for rural and Northern hospitals, which will bear the brunt of service cuts and impending closures in Ontario’s health care system.
“What sort of ‘transition’ will $20 million mean in a multi-billion dollar health system? Maybe buy bus tickets so people can transition to Toronto?” asked Hahn.
The budget also uses genericdrug savings to pay for a 1 per cent increase to Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program at a time when inflation is running at 2.2 per cent.
“We’re disappointed that the NDP didn’t go further to push their proposals for this budget. No party campaigned on hurting communities by gutting public services,” said Hahn. “These massive budget cuts should have gone to the polls.”
“What Dalton McGuinty did today helps no one — it distorts the public’s will in a bizarre way that means we have more revenue for government but fewer public services for people,” he said.
CUPE Ontario has repeatedly called on government to increase taxes on profitable corporations and those most able to pay, in order to safeguard public services for everyone. More than 15,000 people participated in a mass demonstration against budget cuts on Saturday, at Queen’s Park.
“This is not the end. It’s just the beginning. Dalton McGuinty has reignited a mass movement that will take root in every city and town across Ontario to fight for fair taxes, strong public services, and good jobs. That’s what Ontarians want and deserve, and it’s what we’ll keep fighting for together,” said Hahn.
CUPE Ontario is the province’s largest union representing workers in schools, universities, hospitals, long term care, municipalities and social services.
For more information, please contact:
Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316