“After all the people of Ontario have been through this last year, this budget is just classic trickle-down economics and it’s the last thing communities need,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “They’ll spin this, but the reality is the budget promises a gush of massive tax cuts and subsidies for big businesses and the wealthiest Ontarians, with just a trickle going to the chronically underfunded public services that have proven to protect our lives and livelihoods.”
Hahn calls this budget a re-hashing of measures that haven’t gone far enough to protect people and which have only extended the burden put on marginalized communities.
“There’s no recovery plan that does not ensure paid sick days for all, declare anti-Black racism a public health crisis and back that up with a fully funded plan, and fund a vaccination rollout plan that’s accessible to those in our hardest-hit communities,” said Hahn. “We can’t allow investments to merely trickle down while impacts pool across our communities.”
“Now is the time for bold action and ideas, not a re-hash of the same old tired strategies that saw us entering this global pandemic in a weakened position to deal with its challenges,” added Hahn. “Repeating these mistakes will only accelerate the financial pressures on our public services and deepen inequities.”
Following decades of underfunding the public sector, CUPE Ontario expected a budget that would correct course by increasing revenue. Instead, according to Hahn, the budget extends tax cuts and subsidies directed at the wealthiest.
Since the Ford Conservatives were elected, tax cuts and subsidies to corporations that have stayed profitable during the pandemic have grown to staggering amounts – resulting in a loss of revenue of $6.6-billion.
Meanwhile, funding for the broader public sector has either dropped significantly when factoring in inflation and population growth – or has flatlined, in the case of health care, the program area that sees the most support.
Last week, for instance, the Ford government announced additional funding to support universities, nearly $400-million short of what the Council of Ontario Universities has said was needed. And a report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that emergency relief funds for education – most of which came from the federal government and school boards – only led to an average of an additional 1.5 staff members per school.
“The budget took a step in the right direction when it came to four-hours of care, but it’s time to put the announcements aside,” said Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. “We need real actions for long-term care: more staff, a comprehensive recruitment strategy, and proper measures to retain existing staff.”
“We’re a year into this pandemic and Ontarians have only gotten clearer about what we need to stay safe and to recover post-COVID-19,” said Hahn. “Massive benefits for those at the top and little more than a trickle of investments for the rest of us won’t cut it anymore.”