Ontario budget sets an underwhelming path to economic recovery, leaves workers with questions

TORONTO- Ontario budget begins to set the course for economic recovery, but Ontario workers must maintain pressure for a fair and equitable vision.

“Unifor members were wanting to see signs of investment in telecommunications and a made-in-Ontario manufacturing plan,” Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Though we saw some of those steps in today’s budget, we will keep up the pressure until we see economic recovery that benefits all workers.”

In its fall budget submission, Unifor recommended that the Ontario government focus on two simultaneous goals for budget 2020: keep Ontarians protected through the coronavirus pandemic and ensure we build a better Ontario coming out of this crisis.

“It’s encouraging to see the Ford government finally put a pin in cuts and start to make some infrastructure investments that workers have demanded for many years,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “MPPs need to know the gaps in health care are far from filled and new corporate investments like those in auto and infrastructure need strong, enforceable conditions to grow good jobs.”

The union advocates for responsible investments in Ontario’s critical infrastructure, from childcare and health care to telecommunications and manufacturing. In sectors where unions are strong, workers can see greater direct benefits from corporate investments that fuel good jobs, instead of seeing public money funnelled away into corporate profits.

“Missing from this budget was any mention of common-sense policy changes to support the workers who are bravely bringing us through the worst of this pandemic. How will the Time to Care Act be implemented when there is no funding earmarked for more PSWs? When will this government introduce a $15 an hour minimum wage, paid sick leave, smaller class sizes and affordable, public child care?” continued Rizvi.

Ontario government announced its plans to establish an average of four hours of direct care for long-term care residents by 2024-2025 earlier this week.

“Ontario’s long-term care workers were watching this budget closely for a sign that the Ford government is up to the task of implementing a four-hour minimum of care,” said Katha Fortier, Unifor Assistant to the National President. “But with no funding for PSW recruitment or dedicated investments to reach the mandate, public pressure needs to stay on this government to fix the LTC system sooner rather than later.”

Earlier this year, Unifor released its strategy to #BuildBackBetter with the of the union’s comprehensive ‘Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery’. Visit buildbackbetter.unifor.org to read the recommendations and download the Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy, including 168,000 members in Ontario. 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.