Ontario budget pledges progressive investments

Thursday, March 29, 2018 General News
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TORONTO, March 28, 2018 /CNW/ - The Ontario budget's investments in public services show continued momentum towards

social justice and the effectiveness of political activism.

"This budget sets the baseline for the upcoming election. Ontarians need strong public services and investments to address inequality, not the right-wing, backward budget cuts

that the conservatives are threatening," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "The spending announced today shows that the provincial government has heard the calls of Ontario workers who demanded a living wage, labour reform and investments that make public services like child care accessible."

Unifor applauds the increase in hospital funding of 4.6 per cent this year, however in order to address wait times and quality of care, funding must continue to increase. The union is critical of the lack of legislative action to require four hours of direct care per resident and of a delay in addressing the waitlists in long-term care. Currently, 30,000 people are on waitlists for long-term care, but only 5,000 beds are funded in the next four years and the remainder of the 30,000 new beds are not promised until ten years from now.

"The investments pledged in this budget are a step towards improving the health care system for patients and for workers who seek to deliver quality care," said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. "Still, chronic underfunding and understaffing needs to be addressed and Unifor's members will continue to push all parties until funding needs and a minimum standard of four hours of direct care are met."

In its pre-budget recommendations, Unifor called on the provincial government to fix the deep-rooted health care crisis, increase funding for high quality, public child care and introduce pharmacare for all.

New funding for free public, licensed child care for preschool-aged children marks a progressive shift in Ontario's system towards child care as a public service. An expansion in free prescription drug coverage for seniors also takes steps towards universality, but leaves many without access.

"Improving access to child care through a free preschool program will dramatically improve women's participation in the labour market and move to decrease the gender wage gap," continued Rizvi. "However, workers know that without truly universal pharmacare and child care systems, many will be left behind."

Unifor welcomes new funding of $1.2 billion over the next three years for mental health support, with a focus on youth. This funding must be targeted towards those most in need and provide culturally-appropriate care.

To see what Unifor members in Ontario are fighting for in this coming election, visit uniforvotes.ca.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 162,800 workers in Ontario, in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future. 


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