The Government of Ontario is falling far short when it comes to financially supporting people and public services, says CUPE Ontario, drawing on a new report by the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO).

The report reveals that the provincial government’s share of direct support measures compared to the federal government is only three per cent. Additionally, out of two funds to support COVID-19 response measures, a Health Sector Response Fund and a Support for People and Jobs Fund, the majority ($6.7 billion) remains unused. This is also the case for the majority of the Safe Restart Fund, $3.1 billion, and half of the Safe Return to School Fund.

“Doug Ford keeps telling Ontarians that he’s willing to do anything to support our communities and keep us safe,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, representing 280,000 public sector workers. “But this report is exposing that spin. Providing a mere three per cent of our already-inadequate support measures, and sitting on billions upon billions of dollars that should be supporting the public services and front-line workers we rely on, is unacceptable.”

CUPE Ontario is calling on the government to increase spending and release the unused funds immediately.

“We can’t allow the Ford Conservatives to pass the buck and offer so little to Ontarians who are struggling so much,” said Hahn. “Now, when a second wave is on the horizon, when kids are going back to school, and the staffing crisis in health care continues, it’s time for Ford to put our money where his mouth is.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario’s per capita spending on public services was more than $2000 below the average for the rest of Canada according to a 2019 FAO report.

“Our communities, and all the public services that support our communities, desperately need critical investments,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “That was true before the pandemic, became even more pressing during the pandemic, and will be essential to ensuring a real recovery from the pandemic. Now is not the time for the Ford Conservatives to hold back investments that are meant to support critical public services like healthcare, social services and education.”