CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn is urging the Ford government to stop deliberately starving public programs and invest more in public services in its next budget, declaring that “Ontarians elect their government to make life better, not to run things into the ground.”

Hahn is in Kingston today, appearing at a public hearing that is part of the government’s province-wide pre-budget consultation on the expectations of “workers, families, business owners and communities” from the 2023 budget.

In his presentation, Hahn shares facts and figures that provide ample evidence to show that, instead of serving Ontarians, the Ford government decided to “starve itself, cutting off choices and the ability to react to the ongoing economic challenges.”

“The people of Kingston live with the devastating effects of this government’s decisions. Just last month, city council declared a mental health and addictions crisis. The city is grappling with a housing shortage. Thousands are without a family doctor and wait times to be admitted to hospital in Kingston have skyrocketed. These are all problems tied directly to the underfunding of our public services,” said Hahn.

“Yet instead of giving communities the funding they need, this government consistently understates revenues and overstates expenses. Doug Ford thinks that way he can dupe Ontarians into believing that he has no choice but to privatize our health care and our transit, no choice but to have millions using food banks. That nothing can be done to help the thousands who will lose their homes and jobs to inflation, or to help those whose university tuition has left them with crushing debt.

“We say budgets are about choices. They are our opportunity to tackle this misery, to address the 380,000 unfilled jobs in Ontario, to invest in education and social services, to make life better for Ontarians. And this government has the resources to do it.”

Hahn pointed out that Ontario’s economic outlook has improved dramatically: the Financial Accountability Office reported today that Ontario will have a budget surplus of $1 billion in 2023, with future surpluses scheduled to grow to a budget surplus of $7.6 billion by 2026-27.

“Ontario also finds itself in a period of enormous corporate wealth and profits; last year, corporate profits went up 14.8%; the year before, 24.2%. If Ontario raised its corporate tax rate just 1%, it would raise $3.7 billion annually to invest in public services. And it would still leave Ontario’s rates lower than the average in the rest of Canada,” said Hahn.

CUPE Ontario wants to see the province move from last place among the provinces for per-capita program spending. If Ontario spent the rest of Canada’s average of $14,086 per capita for program spending, that would have amounted to an additional $27.4 billion last year – enough to make a significant difference to the lives of millions of Ontarians.

“Every indicator says this is the time to invest in public services,” said Hahn. “This government must use the coming budget to change direction, to stop privatization and to invest in public services, the people who use them and the people who provide them.”