TORONTO – In pursuit of a balanced budget, the Liberal government has abandoned those Ontarians who rely on social services and the workers who deliver them.
Commenting on yesterday’s provincial budget announcement, representatives from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) charged that, despite the Liberal government’s claim to progressiveness and fairness, its budget offered only warmed-over expenditures from last year and overall budgetary freezes
“It’s no more than a continuation of past years of austerity funding for Ontario’s social services,” said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of CUPE Ontario’s Social Services Workers’ Coordinating Committee. “Premier Wynne is sacrificing families, children, and vulnerable Ontarians to balance the budget.”
Poole-Cotnam noted that expenditures on children and social services will increase by less than one third of the rate of inflation. There was also very little additional funding for Ontario’s social services, meaning that agencies delivering vital support to Ontario’s families will face another year of zero increases to base funding.
The Liberals’ poverty reduction strategy receives a token acknowledgment in the budget, with social assistance benefits increased by 1 per cent – less than the rate of inflation.
“Adjusted for inflation, social assistance benefits are lower than they were at the end of the Harris era,” said Poole-Cotnam.
One positive announcement was the continuation of the mitigation funding for child care, which had been planned to end; the funding increases stability for child care across the province.
Overall, the lack of support for Ontario’s social services makes a mockery of Premier Wynne’s directive to end the gender wage gap in the province, said Poole-Cotnam.
“If the Premier is not willing to provide adequate funding for social services, she is admitting that the injustices of the gender pay gap – of paying women less than the value of their work – are perfectly fine with her,” she concluded.
For more information, contact: