QUEEN’S PARK — NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Doug Ford’s 2020 budget is waving a white flag in the battle against COVID-19, and telling people: you’re on your own.
With Ontario on the brink of a health and economic disaster, Doug Ford’s budget doesn’t take any new actions to make everyday families safer or healthier. In fact, as the second wave of COVID-19 rises, Ford’s 2020-21 budget contains a nearly $100 million cut to planned spending on long-term care compared to the March fiscal plan for 2020-21. There is also nothing in the budget to make schools safer by capping class sizes, even after the government’s own data showed schools were a source of COVID-19 outbreaks, and there are no new investments in public health, despite rationed testing and contact tracing.
“Doug Ford is telling seniors in dangerously understaffed long-term care homes that more staff won’t come in this year – they’re on their own,” said Horwath. “He’s leaving more than 30 kids packed into classrooms. He’s chosen to give no new money to public health, leaving families at grave risk. Mr. Ford’s budget has no help for the jobs and small businesses at risk of disappearing. Workers aren’t even getting the paid sick days they need to stay home and stop the spread.
“He’s throwing in the towel on the fight against COVID-19, and telling people, families and businesses that no help is coming.”
Ford’s first budget in 2019 included cutting thousands of teachers and education workers, cutting supports for children with autism, and making cuts to long-term care. Those cuts and others were not reversed in this budget.
Ahead of Thursday’s budget, Horwath and the NDP called for:
- Immediate funding relief for the hospital sector and sustainable, timely ongoing funding
- Hiring an army of public health staff to bolster testing, contact tracing and labs
- Funding to immediately hire a minimum of 10,000 PSWs and raise their pay by at least $5 an hour
- Fund a class size cap of 15 for the pandemic, and ongoing funding for class size reduction after the pandemic
- Direct and meaningful financial supports for small businesses and their workers facing lost income
- Paid sick days for all workers
“Investing in people and businesses now will save us so much — it will save lives, it will save jobs, and it will save us the anguish and much greater expense of a longer and deeper struggle with COVID-19.”