April 2, 2021 - No. 24
Ontario Government's 2021 Budget
Urgent Need Is for a Pro-Social
Direction for the Economy
Unions Denounce 2021 Budget
• Ontario Federation of Labour
• Service Employees International Union -- Health Care
• Ontario Nurses' Association
• Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario
• CUPE Ontario's University Workers' Chair
• Joint Statement of Unions Representing Education Workers
Ontario Government's 2021 Budget
The Ontario government presented a budget on March 24 that refuses
to address the pressing need for increased investments in social
programs. Working people through their unions are denouncing the budget
and pursuing a public campaign for respect and security. They are
demanding budgets from both the Ontario and federal governments
that increase investments in social programs and stop paying the rich.
The pandemic has exposed the dire consequences arising from the
refusal of the ruling elite to change the direction of the economy away
from the incessant demands of the rich for maximum private profit.
Working people want respect, security and the right to live and work in
can residents in long-term care homes, patients in hospitals, others
requiring medical assistance, and students in elementary, high school
and post-secondary institutions be guaranteed their needs will be met
if governments refuse to meet and guarantee the needs and rights of the
workers delivering those necessary social services? Respect
and security for people of all ages needing social services begins with
respect and security for the people delivering the services!
- Widespread deaths of the elderly in long-term care homes
have occurred from the refusal of governments to invest in their care,
and from enterprises that view the care of seniors as an opportunity to
make big profits.
- The Ontario budget does not include any provision for paid sick
days, which is a widespread demand of Ontario workers, that has the
support of doctors and other public health experts.
- Over twenty thousand Ontario health care workers have been infected with COVID-19, resulting in twenty deaths.
- Governments have so starved Laurentian University in
Sudbury of needed investment that private creditors have forced it into
bankruptcy protection and possible collapse.
- The Ontario budget even fails to keep education spending in
line with the rate of inflation and enrolment growth, which highlights
the socially irresponsible refusal of governments to guarantee the
right to education for all and to allow education workers to organize a
safe learning environment.
facts cover the Ontario and federal governments with shame. They are an
indictment of the neglect and refusal of the ruling elite to do their
duty to increase investments in social programs and stop paying the
rich. Those in control are proving themselves in practice as
nation-wreckers not nation-builders.
The facts expose the oligarchs in control of blocking the people
from organizing a human-centred direction for the economy. They point
to the necessity for working people to organize themselves into an
unstoppable force that demands and brings into being a new direction
for the economy and political affairs that serves the people and meets
their needs and that of society.
The sweet words and policy objectives of cartel political parties
are not enough! They do not bring respect, dignity and security to
working people nor meet the needs of the people and society. Deeds are
Stop Paying the Rich!
Increase Investments in Social Programs Now!
Unions Denounce 2021 Budget
2019. Queen's Park rally for health care
2021 Ontario Budget misses the mark on leading Ontarians out of this
year-long public health crisis and towards a just recovery. The Budget
lacks meaningful investments into the public services that people rely
on. Budget 2021 is missing paid sick day provisions for Ontario workers
and there is no commitment to
wage increases for PSWs and care sector workers beyond June 30, 2021.
There is no commitment to reinstate comprehensive Resident Quality
Inspections in long-term care homes and no commitment to phase out "for
profit" long-term care. Budget 2021 also fails to ensure safe schools
across Ontario, leaving education workers, children and families at
continued and unnecessary risk.
"The COVID-19 pandemic exposed what happens when public services are
chronically underfunded," said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of
Labour President, "public health crises hit harder, and the province is
less prepared to keep people healthy and safe. Now is the time to fix
those mistakes, equip Ontario to recover, and prepare for the
future -- this budget does not deliver."
The Budget fails to even keep education spending in line with the rate of inflation. [...]
Today's childcare tax credit announcement ignores what is needed
most: universally accessible, affordable, and publicly funded childcare
across the province.
"Ontario needs sustainable solutions that address years of
chronically underfunded public services," said Coates. Workers are
reiterating the need to urgently fix staffing levels in long-term care,
implement guaranteed paid sick days, raise wages for health care
workers, ensure access to sufficient and reliable PPE, reduce class
sizes, address the
impacts of inaccessible childcare, and invest in post-secondary
Budget Fails Healthcare Workers and the Vulnerable Residents
Patients They Serve
women and men serving on the frontline of our health care system are
experiencing an economic and emotional depression, yet today's budget
fails to deliver the supports required to stabilize the workforce.
Healthcare workers have been calling on Premier Ford to make the
initial $4 per hour 'pandemic pay' available to all frontline
heroes fighting COVID and to make it permanent, yet his budget ignores
their demand for respect and economic security.
Sixty-seven per cent of our union members report a decline in their take
home pay, yet Premier Ford's budget fails to provide low-wage workers,
like personal support workers, a living wage of at least $25 per hour.
Precariously employed health care workers deserve paid sick leave so
they are not forced to make the untenable choice between putting food
on the table or going to work sick, yet Premier Ford's budget denies
them this basic protection.
Good, full-time jobs with fair pay and benefits are essential to
the retention of health care workers, yet Premier Ford's budget is
absent funding to reverse the trend of part-time work.
Ontario's long-term care homes will be unable to deliver four-hours
of care per resident per day without the people required to deliver
that care, and because Doug Ford's budget failed to deliver for
healthcare workers our most vulnerable seniors will go without the
dignified care they deserve.
Provincial Budget Disappoints Nurses Desperate for Hope and
Improvements in the Short-Term
The provincial budget has fallen short in providing hope and the
short-term relief that Ontario nurses dearly needed to see, says the
Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA).
ONA President Vicki McKenna, RN, says, "(The) 3.4 per cent funding
increase falls short of what is needed for the system to catch up on
the backlog of surgeries when the pandemic ends. The budget does not
overcome the cuts to public health that this government made just
months before the worst public health crisis in a century, nor does
it commit to fast-track RN staffing levels in long-term care facilities
or improving the quality and frequency of inspections of these homes."
notes, "Every Ontarian needs and deserves paid sick leave, which would
ensure that those who cannot work from home can stay home when ill. We
know that Ontario needs to stabilize nurse staffing in our health-care
facilities, and the budget is silent on specific measures to do that.
And despite receiving federal funds for COVID-19
relief, the government continues to spread that contingency funding
over multiple years, when it could be used now to cover the immediate
costs of rebuilding capacity in our health-care system."
"There is very little in this budget that provides the immediate
relief that our dedicated registered nurses and health-care
professionals need," she says. "ONA would like to see more funding
going to not-for-profit health care, rather than to for-profit
facilities that have proved to be so troubled during COVID-19.
Announced funding for more
nurses for retirement homes does not address long-term care RN staffing."
"If ever there was a lesson to be learned from COVID-19, it is that
starving our health-care system and public health units of funding and
staff has real consequences," she says. "Ontarians, our nurses and
frontline health care professionals have paid dearly for this during
the pandemic. Our home care system has suffered and could have been
used to shore up services for seniors. We should have learned the
lessons of the past, from SARS, yet there is nothing about implementing
the precautionary principle to keep staff or patients, residents and
clients safe. There is nothing about hiring more registered nurses to
close the gap between Ontario and RN staffing levels compared to the
of the country. For a budget focused on the health of people, the
budget is short on details about caring for nurses who care for
"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
"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. We can't allow
investments to merely trickle down while impacts pool across our
"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. Repeating these
mistakes will only accelerate the financial pressures on our public
services and deepen inequities." [...]
"We've heard countless announcements for long-term care," said
Candace Rennick, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE Ontario. "What we need now
is action. We need an expedited timeline for four hours of care, a
comprehensive recruitment and training strategy, and the stabilization
of the workforce to help retain current workers. We need permanent
$4 per hour pandemic pay for everyone, full-time jobs, and paid sick
"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."
For a University sector in crisis, Ford Conservatives' 2021 budget a
'shocking dereliction of responsibility'
The Provincial budget tabled yesterday by Finance Minister Peter
Bethlenfalvy represents a "shocking dereliction of
responsibility" to Ontario's university sector by the Ford Conservative
government, according to David Simao, Chair of the Ontario University
Workers' Coordinating Committee (OUWCC) which speaks on behalf of more
30,000 university workers represented by CUPE across the province.
"Even in a normal year, this budget's complete disdain and
indifference towards post-secondary education would have stood out, but
in the midst of a once-in-a-century global pandemic that has exposed so
many critical needs in every sector of the economy across Ontario, this
is a shocking dereliction of responsibility by the Minister
responsible for Universities and the entire Ford Conservative caucus,"
budget tabled yesterday continues the trend of ongoing cuts in real
dollars for Ontario's universities. The base operating grant of $3.6
billion proposed for Ontario's 21 publicly-funded universities in
yesterday's budget document fails to even keep up with inflation,
effectively reducing the amount Ontario spends per student has fallen
every single year of the Ford Conservative government.
Additionally, $700 million in funds announced to expand the
province's ranks of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) to support
Ontarians receiving home care or living in Long-Term Care (LTC)
facilities is not new money; rather the Ford Conservatives have
diverted funds intended for the Ontario Student Assistance Plan (OSAP)
provides financial support for Ontario students pursuing post-secondary
"Minister Bethlenfalvy's budget speech yesterday ran for nearly
6,000 words, but two words were conspicuously absent. At no point in
the Minister's speech did he utter the words ‘university' or
‘universities'," said CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn.
as if a vital pillar of any major industrialized nation's economic and
social development doesn't exist in the eyes of the Ford Conservative
government's most senior officials. Where does the Cabinet think the
doctors, nurses, researchers, scientists, public health experts, and
countless other disciplines directly tasked with combating
pandemics like COVID-19 are taught and trained?" he added.
Since assuming office early in the summer of 2018, the Ford
Conservatives have presided over millions of dollars in cuts to the
university sector. Last February, Laurentian University in Sudbury was
forced to seek protection from its creditors while the Ford
Conservatives stood by and did nothing to keep the Northern Ontario
"A government that can't even say the word ‘university' in
their budget speech has nothing to offer a sector of the economy that
ought to be at the forefront of helping Ontario emerge stronger from
this pandemic," said Hahn, who urged "every Ontarian who cares about
quality, public post-secondary education to organize and make sure this
government understands how you feel."
Simao echoed Hahn's sentiment, saying, "This budget does nothing to
help Laurentian, nothing to help students, academic workers, or support
staff at Ontario's campuses. It can't even be bothered to offer empty
platitudes, so the hard work of advocating on behalf of universities
before this government pushes the sector even further into crisis
falls to all of us."
As the province enters the third wave of the
pandemic, the Ford government is delivering a budget that fails to even
keep education spending in line with the rate of inflation and
enrolment growth. Obviously, education is not a priority for this
The pandemic has had a profound impact on students, education
workers and our communities. In addition to health and safety concerns,
regular disruptions have resulted in considerable learning loss and
widening achievement gaps. With this budget, the Ford government had an
opportunity to provide students with the supports they will need
in the months and years ahead. Instead, they continue to exaggerate
their investments while actually shortchanging Ontario's students and
The government's ongoing refusal to invest in measures that would
keep schools safe has led to deeply concerning health and well-being
impacts for education workers, including hospitalization. Their erratic
and inconsistent vaccination plan continues to generate confusion and
chaos across the province. And their overall failure to respond to
the pandemic has extended the crisis and continues to create
To date, the province has refused to make critical investments in
publicly funded education, putting students, education workers and
families at risk. The government has disregarded advice from medical
experts, refused to enhance safety measures, and looked away as safety
concerns and self-isolation requirements result in unprecedented
staffing shortages across Ontario.
The education unions call on the Ford government to invest in:
- lower class sizes to keep students safe and to address learning loss incurred during the pandemic;
- enhanced safety measures to ensure infection control;
- mental health supports for students and education workers; and
- supports for students with special
It's high time Premier Ford and Minister Lecce begin listening to
education workers. The Conservative government's abandonment of
publicly funded education is callous, and they must be held to account.Association des enseignantes et des enseignants
Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario
Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario
Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association
Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation
Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy's 2021
provincial budget fails to address Ontario's crisis in long-term care,
and leaves questions about the direction and strength of the province's
economic recovery says Unifor. [...]
Instead of fixing the long-term care crisis now, this budget
invests only 10 per cent of the announced funding, or $0.5 billion, in
2021-22 to address the mandate of four hours of direct care.
This virus is not slowing down, and we need to speed up our
response. The provincial government is delaying implementation of this
basic standard that will improve safety and working conditions across
our broken long-term care sector," said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario
Regional Director. [...]
The COVID-19 crisis quickly exposed how inequality influences the
ability of many communities to be able to withstand this pandemic. [...]
We have said this for more than a year now, that paid sick days are
a matter of public health, and are required to protect the most
precarious and vulnerable workers from this virus," said Rizvi. "The
government's current refusal to introduce this measure speaks volumes,
but workers' voices will be louder still.
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