Today’s Fall Economic Statement (FES) is a disturbing mix of accounting tricks and political spin designed to support the Ford Conservatives’ electoral ambitions rather than truly support Ontario’s workers and economy, still struggling through the pandemic.

“Anyone who thinks Doug Ford has had a sudden change of heart and will stand up for working people has not been paying attention for the last three years,” said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn. “By every measure, Ontario’s workers, and the public services they rely on, are far worse off under the Ford Conservatives than they were three years ago, and no amount of political or accounting spin will change that.”

In today’s FES, the Ford Conservatives not only falsely claimed Ontario’s economy was recovering well and that their government had supported working people through the COVID-19 pandemic but seems to have now “discovered” billions of extra dollars to spend on election promises to Ford’s friends, like the 413 Highway Project.

“Throughout the pandemic, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO) has been reporting the Ford Conservatives failed to spend billions of dollars to support Ontarians and the public services they’ve rely on through the pandemic,” said Hahn. “Instead, it appears, the Ford Conservatives have been hoarding those critical resources so they can pretend, as an election approaches, that they are a doing a good job managing the pandemic economy. Working people, like CUPE Ontario members, won’t be fooled.”

Using reports from the FAO and other publicly available data, CUPE Ontario has, throughout the pandemic, repeatedly called on the Ford Conservatives to invest in the public services and supports Ontarians needed. Instead, the Ford Conservatives have rewarded wealthy corporations with tax breaks and hydro subsidies even as they denied workers permanent paid sick days, failed to invest in critical public services and have maintained Charter-violating legislation like Bill 124, which has resulted in critical front-line workers in healthcare, education, universities, and social services seeing their wages erode against rising inflation.

“Workers cannot take seriously a government that, at this very moment, is actively suppressing the wages and benefits of healthcare and other public sector workers at the bargaining table with legislation like Bill 124,” said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Candace Rennick. “We evaluate a government by its actions, and this government has consistently failed to invest in our public services or treat the workers who provide those critical services with the respect and dignity they so rightly deserve. This isn’t only a matter of too little, too late. It’s also smoke and mirrors. Workers know the Ford Conservatives are not really on their side and any attempt to make it appear that way is really just about putting on a show in hopes of getting re-elected.”

CUPE Ontario is continuing its call for a pandemic recovery that meaningfully supports working people and properly funds the public services they need. This would include living wage well above the government’s cynically announced $15 minimum wage earlier this week.