Ontarians desperate for relief from the cost-of-living crisis and eager for more investment in their public services have been let down again by the Conservatives’ budget.

“This budget sets up ordinary Ontarians for more years of misery,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario, the union that represents 290,000 public sector workers in Ontario.

“Despite spending millions trying to convince us otherwise with their “You already live there” ads, the Ford PCs offer no immediate help to Ontarians struggling with the housing crisis; nothing for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers whose wages were stolen under Bill 124; nothing for families waiting for child care spaces; nothing for those exhausted by massive emergency room waits; next to nothing to deal with the staffing crisis in public services; nothing for those desperate for more support in their kids’ school. 

“Nothing for what Ontarians really need.”

While Conservatives claim “historic” and “record” spending in this budget, CUPE Ontario crunched numbers that show a fall in real per capita spending of more than 10%, when comparing 2020 to 2026.

“This government understands well enough the ways inflation and population growth work. The only thing ‘historic’ they are doing is epically failing to provide the public services that Ontarians need in these historically challenging times,” said Hahn.

These cuts come just when Ontarians are in dire need of real and substantial investment in their public services – hospitals, education at all levels, long-term care, social services, childcare, developmental services and more funding for towns and cities. 

“The Ford government’s gaslighting of Ontarians is exhausting. The PCs call themselves builders, but really, they’re breakers,” noted Hahn. “They have taken our public services to the breaking point, affordability is at an all-time low, Ontarians can’t find housing or a family doctor. And this budget not only makes no serious effort to repair any of that, it tells us openly they plan to make it worse for all of us, in every part of the province.” 

Hahn took the Ford government to task for continuing failed experiments with privatization, now being carried out under the Ontario Infrastructure Bank. Hahn observed, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail – and for this government, that hammer is privatization: of health care, of infrastructure investment, of auto insurance. It’s not working for Ontarians.”

In response to Conservatives’ claims of increased funding for post-secondary education, Hahn said, “They claim they’re throwing universities a lifeline, but it barely qualifies as life support. Fully one-third of universities will still have deficits even with this increase. The funding announced today still leaves Ontario with the lowest levels of funding for universities among all the provinces.” 

Today’s budget references the wages stolen from workers under Bill 124, but there is no plan for actually making every worker who had their wages stolen by the illegal and unconstitutional Bill 124 whole, Hahn pointed out.

“When Bill 124 was declared unconstitutional – twice – the rulings found the government guilty of wage theft to the tune of $6 billion. Workers – especially those in child care, developmental services, shelters, and community agencies – had their wages stolen, but this budget includes no serious effort to make them whole.  It’s shocking that the Ford Conservatives are purposely ignoring demands for justice for these workers.” 

Hahn also criticized the Ford government for missing opportunities – omissions that carry grave implications for Ontario’s future.  

“We all needed to hear from this Conservative government that it has real plans for the looming challenges of the climate crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, the crisis unfolding in the services we all rely on in Ontario.

“We all needed to hear they finally understand that tax increases on corporations and the wealthy are the fair and just way to raise revenue for these needed investments in our collective future. But today, like every day since they were elected in 2018, the Conservative government has failed Ontarians.”