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Despite the signal that this Ontario budget would focus on poverty, the McGuinty government has missed the mark, said Sid Ryan, the Ontario president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

Corporations are getting a $750 million tax cut while the poor get $167 million, and barely the rate of inflation for social assistance benefits. Minimum wage workers will still need to wait to 2010 to get a hand out of poverty. Guess who won this war?” Added Ryan.

Ontarians previous experience with corporate tax cuts meant gutted social programs like health, education and water. “We’ve seen that movie with Jim Flaherty directing. Ontarians don’t deserve the re-run with a weak-kneed McGuinty giving tax cuts and getting rid of the government regulations that protect us,” said Ryan.

The announcement that there is funding for more than 4500 nurses and personal support workers over three years in long-term care is welcome news. The new funding is a modest improvement, said Ryan, who added that Ontario remains one of the few jurisdictions without a minimum standard of care. “Unless funding is tied to staffing levels and direct personal care, seniors will still be in soiled diapers.”

Seventy-five Ontario hospitals are in deficit. But today’s budget “ignores that reality. Without adequate funding, hospitals will cut both staff and programs. Those who will be hurt directly are the sick and the elderly,” said Ryan. The Liberals have already moved to centralize control of hospitals, “now they are gutting them while taking credit for the smallest improvements after the Flaherty government decimated hospitals.“

With the announcement of millions for skills retraining for laid-off resource and manufacturing workers, it’s clear that this Liberal government “has thrown in the towel along with the Flaherty government on the manufacturing jobs that generations of families relied on and that built Ontario.”

For more information please contact:

Sid Ryan              President, CUPE Ontario      (416) 209-0066
Stella Yeadon      CUPE Legislative Liaison      (416) 578-8774