We mark the beginning of 2018 with historic changes to Ontario’s labour laws, including the implementation of a $14 minimum wage and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 which both became reality on January 1.
We fought hard for these victories and I want to thank everyone who made the effort to participate in hearings, attend rallies, and send emails or tweets, as together our voices made a difference.
Now we continue our efforts to make Ontario a better place to work and live as we look ahead to the upcoming provincial budget. Next week Unifor will submit 2018 budget recommendations to the government that focus on policy priorities that will strengthen Ontario’s health care infrastructure, improve the quality of life for families, promote gender equality, create and maintain good jobs and help Canada meet its international climate commitments. These include:
Unifor calls on the government to stop the P3-privatization of Ontario’s hospitals and for guaranteed annual spending increases of five percent to Ontario’s hospitals. Our health care system requires stable multi-year hospital funding that will keep pace with inflation, utilization rates, and population growth and ageing.
The Government should pass Bill 33 (An Act to Amend the Long-Term Care Homes Act) and implement the Aging with Confidence action plan for Ontario’s seniors, so that staff level reporting is transparent and the standard of care, including 4 hours of care per patient per day, is enforceable.
Unifor urges the government to make its pharmacare program, currently available to those under 25, universally accessible to all Ontarians.
Extend the boundaries of child care ‘transformation framework’ by widening accessibility, increasing flexibility, and reducing cost while defending and enhancing educational quality.
Carbon Pricing (Bill 172)
The Climate Change Action Plan should be strengthened by applying a carbon border adjustment to commodities entering from jurisdictions without a carbon price. The Green Fund should also be used to finance Just Transition measures.
Those in the Ottawa region are encouraged to share their budget priorities with Premier Wynne in person at a town hall to be held tonight, January 18 at 7 p.m. at The Chamber at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa.
The government is also seeking input from Ontarians on initiatives that will receive up to $5 million in funding in the budget. You can vote on suggestions to develop programs to support child care, seniors, mental health, aboriginal youth, and people with autism among others. Visit Ontario.ca/Budgettalks to support your three favourite ideas before 5 p.m., January 26, 2018.
The spring budget is a key opportunity as we head towards the provincial election deadline of June 7, 2018. Now, more than ever, we must continue to push for progressive change and send a clear message that we will not go backwards!
Ontario Regional Director