It’s time for the Ford Conservatives to commit to historic investments in public services with its last budget before the provincial election, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario during consultations.
“There is only one way forward, and that is for Ontario to commit to major and historic investments in public services of all kinds, and to life-changing wage increases for public-sector workers that will make up for years of income loss and shore up a generation of desperately needed workers,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario, today during his presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. “We are asking you to think about what is needed to make sure public services are not only there for us in the future but are thriving and are the envy of the world. This is what our members demand, and it is the least that Ontarians deserve.”
CUPE Ontario’s budget submission as well as Hahn’s presentation highlighted that, while the economy and corporate profits have grown, with the latter continuing to skyrocket through this pandemic, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have enforced real wage cuts and have steadily shrunk the funding of public services.
With inflation skyrocketing, said Hahn, if all broader public sector workers who fell under the wage cap of Bill 124 were subject to it last year, that would amount to wage theft of nearly $3-billion, with the average worker losing $2,304 annually.
The Ford Conservatives have also failed to sufficiently spend on public services, according to CUPE Ontario. Hahn’s presentation noted that the government’s five-year recovery plan forecasts that average program spending will only grow 1.5% annually when the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of Ontario says that we would need a 3% increase to simply match inflation and population growth. That’s an annual reduction in spending of $1,281 per person across Ontario by 2029.
“Workers have borne the brunt of all these cuts, and of trying heroically to deliver vital services in impossible conditions. They are exhausted. They are fed up. They need a lifeline. They need to be compensated and they need to know reinforcements are on the way,” said Hahn. “This is the Ford Conservatives’ last chance before our first election since this unprecedented crisis.”