The Ford Conservatives’ unprecedented Cabinet shuffle, after only one year in office, will not improve their plummeting polling numbers or fix the problem of cuts to public services faced by Ontarians says the President of Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
“People are angry about the massive cuts to public services,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn, “While there have been issues with some of the Ford Conservative Ministers, it’s the decision to cut public services that are making people upset in communities across this province, not their ministerial messengers. It’s about the choices the Ford Conservatives are making to cut billions from vital public services at the same time as they spend billions on tax cuts for wealthy corporations and their failed schemes, like cancelling the Beer Store contract.”
Since being elected one year ago, the Ford Conservatives and Premier Doug Ford have seen their public opinion polling numbers drop, in some cases to historically low levels, as they have implemented severe public service cuts. These have included cuts to services for children with autism, a billion dollars of announced or implemented cuts in both post-secondary education and social services, stagnant health care funding resulting in layoffs of front line workers and cuts to public education funding causing cancelled classes and laid off front-line supports, like educational assistants, for students with special needs.
“We’ve seen an unprecedented mobilizing of people in opposition to the Ford Conservatives’ cuts to public services,” said Hahn. “There’s been historic walk-outs of high school students, seniors’ book clubs sitting in for library services, thousands marching for public healthcare, parents campaigning tirelessly for social services their children need. The resistance to the Ford Conservatives is growing, across Ontario, and that’s because of what the government is doing, not which individuals in that government are doing it. It’s really all about the cuts.”
A poll conducted by Environics for CUPE Ontario and CUPE Local 79 in May found that seven out of ten Ontarians say the cuts to public services make them less likely to vote PC in the next election, including four of ten people who voted Conservative in the last provincial election.
Today’s Cabinet shuffle by Premier Ford also included the addition of a number of new Ministers and Associate Ministers. Changes include naming a separate Minister for Long-Term Care, an Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addiction and an Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.
“If there is one good piece of news coming out of this shuffle it is the recognition that long-term care, mental health and addiction and children and women’s issues are big, important pieces of work that required focused attention,” said Hahn. “For the last year, they’ve been subsumed in super-sized Ministries, meaning desperately needed improvements, like 4 hours of legislated care for seniors in long-term care, have not been addressed. The new Minister and two new Associate Ministers should take this opportunity to ensure Ontarians receive the public services they need to address these critical portfolios.”
CUPE is Ontario’s largest union, with over 270,000 members across the province, delivering public services that Ontarians rely on every day.