Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Conservative budget doesn’t deliver for Toronto, Ontario

Published on March 24, 2023

The Conservative’s budget was released yesterday. Overall, the budget increases spending by 1%, far below the rate of inflation, which is at 6.8%. We will be seeing cuts in services in 2023-2024. Here’s the lowdown.

Health care
Funding for health care is essentially the same as last year, even though demand is growing. I fear the healthcare crisis will continue.

The Conservatives are directing more money to for-profit health clinics in this budget. For-profit health care will worsen staff shortages in the public system, lead to more emergency room closures and cost Ontarians more. We are already hearing reports of scheduled cancer surgeries in Ottawa being delayed because the nursing staff was otherwise engaged in “private work”. Nursing staff can earn double at the for-profit orthopedic clinic that rents out operating rooms at the same hospital on Saturdays. This is not how medicare should work. 

We can and should resolve the surgery backlog and provide care quickly to Ontarians by investing in public healthcare, paying healthcare workers higher wages, and staffing up public operating rooms so they can operate on evenings and weekends. 

Mental health
There’s more funding for community mental health care and addictions. My job will be to work with organizations in University–Rosedale to ensure we receive our fair share.

There’s no new funding for transit operations or maintenance, which means the big TTC service cuts in March will remain. In our area, we will see less service on the Line 2 subway line, Queen St and Dufferin St. The province used to match the city’s share to the TTC’s budget. For the sake of transit riders, the health of our city, and our commitment to climate action, the province should resume that responsibility.

The Conservatives earmarked $202M each year for two years to homelessness prevention and Indigenous supportive housing, but don’t think for a second this is new money. Overall, funding to the Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs, which funds the government’s housing initiatives, is being cut by 124M. There is increased funding to ease the backlog at the Landlord and Tenant Board.

To address the housing crisis, Ontario must build 1.5 million new homes in areas zoned for development, end exclusionary zoning, stabilize rent, clamp down on investor speculation, and establish a public builder to construct affordable housing on public land. 

Education and childcare
The Conservatives have been falsely boasting about their historic investment in education, but the entire funding increase is coming from the $2.3B the Federal government gave Ontario for childcare. 

We will not know the full extent of the school cuts for a few months. The TDSB is projecting a $61M shortfall for the coming year, and a loss of 522 staff positions.

There is sufficient funding to continue to provide parents with a 50% reduction in child care fees, with the goal of reaching $10 a day of child care by 2025. Most of this is federal money. 

The issue is there are not enough child care spots available for children. This budget doesn’t allocate any money to increasing wages to stem the exodus of childcare workers and only allocates $226M to help build the 226,000 child care spots that need to be created. 

There is no new money to improve Ontario’s grossly inadequate autism funding programs.

Toronto is getting a seven percent hike in property taxes and a cut in services and infrastructure in 2023 because the Ford government is not providing any new money to cities in this budget. The Conservative’s Bill 23 kneecapped Toronto’s authority to require developers to pay their fair share for new infrastructure and services, such as transit, affordable housing and parks, and it’s you and I that will be making up that funding shortfall.

While social assistance rates are now indexed to inflation, the budget did not increase the base rate for Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Payment. We are calling for a doubling of the social assistance rates because it’s morally the right thing to do, and in the long term it's cheaper. 

There’s no new money for climate action. 

We will continue to push for a government and a budget that puts people first invests in good jobs and public services, makes life affordable, and protects our future.

If you have questions about the budget please contact our office, and we’ll do our best to answer them for you.