Ontario Budget 2021- Initial Thoughts
Yesterday, the Ford government presented their 2021 budget. Over the last year, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our health, economy and daily life. Now more than ever, Ontarians are looking to their government during this critical time to help manage the stresses and provide much needed support.
I was pleased to see the government will continue to support OneDoor4Care, the new children’s treatment centre at CHEO in Ottawa. This is a project that I was proud to have worked on and advanced during the last parliament. It will do so much to improve the lives of so many children and their families.
I was however, disappointed not to see a mention of the Ford government’s support for the Ottawa Civic Campus project. I urge the government to confirm their commitment to this much needed new hospital.
Of great concern in that budget is that the government is spending $4.8 billion less in our schools next year than they are this year. Investments in postsecondary education have been cut by $200 million because of decreases to OSAP. I will continue to fight for the necessary investments in our kids’ schools, at all levels.
Public health units keep our communities healthy and safe. I was discouraged to see that there was no additional investment or long-term commitment to support the province’s 34 public health units. They have been leading the fight against COVID-19 in every community across Ontario, working tirelessly to keep us safe. I am concerned that the government will leave municipalities, like the City of Ottawa, on the hook for much needed, ongoing community programs.
It is also important that we prepare for additional vaccination campaigns beyond the current program. We need to be ready as the science continues to evolve around COVID-19 so that we can move quickly on any future vaccination or public health campaign.
I was surprised to see that the Ford government has not committed to permanently increase the wages of PSWs working in home care and long-term care. Right now, the Premier has only committed to extending it until June, 2021.
Permanently increasing PSW wages is the right thing to do and stabilizes the workforce in these sectors. While the government has committed to providing 4 hours of daily hands on care to every resident in long-term care over the next 4 years, they won’t be able to retain staff if they don’t protect, respect and pay them.
There is also no mention of creating full-time positions and adding benefits like paid sick days for PSWs. The quality of care in long-term care homes cannot improve unless the staffing challenges are properly addressed.
I would have liked to have seen an increase for hospice palliative care in the budget. Ontarians want to die with dignity at home or in a home-like setting. I will continue to advocate strongly for this.
The government’s $160 million investment over 3 years to support the expansion of community paramedicine to 33 communities, providing seniors care and service at home, is a positive initiative.
My office and I will continue to study the budget over the coming weeks focusing on the programs and services families rely on: great schools, world-class healthcare, a strong economy, a clean environment and support for our most vulnerable.
If you would like to read Ontario’s 2021 Budget, please access it here: https://budget.ontario.ca/2021/index.html
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to my office by phone 613-736-9573 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help.
Please take care and stay healthy,