Ontario 2020 budget fails to address the needs of people

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November 6, 2020

The Ontario 2020  budget focuses on business and fails address the needs of people.

UFCW OPC Submission for fall budget 2020

Following the Ontario government’s announcement of its 2020 budget for the province, it’s evident that the budget fails to address the needs of people in Ontario, particularly given the ongoing pandemic.

There’s not enough in this budget to addresses the real, pressing needs of the people of Ontario. Our healthcare system is struggling, particularly in elder care environments with no immediate plan to act.  Frontline workers continue to show up with no plan in place to support them.  The priorities expressed in this budget are not for the people, but instead focus on giving breaks to businesses.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 had made submissions and recommendations to the government ahead of the budget which included:

  • Provide ten permanent paid sick days to all workers, so no one has to choose between their health and their livelihoods. Currently, Ontario workers have zero paid sick days under employment standards; workers don’t only get sick during pandemics.
  • Substantially increase the minimum wage to that of a living wage, with indexing to follow inflation on a go forward basis and ensure the wage rates maintain living wage status.
  • Implement a “pandemic pay premium” for workers now and any future period in which public health organizations declare a public health emergency and workers continue to report to work.
  • Implement an across the board wage increase for all workers in healthcare, particularly in long-term care and retirement settings.
  • Implement a four-hour minimum direct care standard for residents in long-term care.
  • Ensure staff recruitment and retention by incentivizing new hires to the industry by providing good employment conditions including full-time work and appropriate broad compensation.

Out of all of these practical suggestions to protect and support people, only the four-hour minimum standard appears in the budget.  However, even that has no direct funding details and is targeted to be implemented over a four-year period. That’s far too long when the crisis in long-term care is happening today.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that people expect their government to provide support to them. This budget does little to provide those supports to the people who need them, the frontline workers in this province.  We continue to call on the government to focus on what should matter most, the people of Ontario.

Last week the Local Union sent a letter to the Premier and the Prime Minster  to emphasize to both parties the absolute need for support of workers during the COVID-19 health crisis. You can read those letters here: https://ufcw175.com/2020/10/29/open-letter-to-the-prime-minister-and-premier-re-pandemic-support/ 

Additionally the Ontario Provincial council made a submission to the Ontario government prior to the budget with recommendations and you can read the full submission here: https://ufcw175.com/2020/10/16/ufcw-canada-opc-submission-to-ontario-ministry-of-finance/