Ontario budget must address health care crisis and build support for workers and critical industries, says Unifor
The Ontario government's 2023 budget must reinvest in public health care and support workers and critical industries to make better use of recent windfalls, says Unifor.
"The Government of Ontario needs to think big about the goods and products we can build here in Ontario and can be beneficial to all Ontarians," said Lana Payne, Unifor National President. "Unifor members in the province are ready to build the transit, transportation and manufacturing products of today and tomorrow, but leadership, support and investment like the government has shown in the auto sector is required."
Unifor's analysis of recent Ontario government spending reveals a government that is squandering windfall tax revenue and, according to the Financial Accountability Office, not spending enough to meet the government's own health care programming goals.
"We are watching this budget carefully because we need substantial new provincial funds – not just the federal funding that was recently secured – to be dedicated to public health care," said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. "Families are hurting, workers are being stretched to their limits. It's time to see real investment in public services and infrastructure in Ontario."
Unifor proposed a series of investments and targets to the Ontario government during pre-budget consultations. In addition to calls for investment in health care, including long-term care, the union also demanded a full repeal of the recently struck-down wage-suppressing Bill 124 and introduce true permanent paid sick days to replace the government's expiring WSIB-funded program. Unifor is also calling for made in Canada investment in transit vehicles of the future.
Unifor also recommends:
- Re-invigorating public services and address staffing crises.
- Support the transition to electric vehicle manufacturing.
- Further expand funding for apprenticeship and skilled trades programs.
- Maintain and expand public transit service and infrastructure.
- Expand public, not for profit $10-a-day child care with improved wage scales and benefits for all child care workers.
- Implement a provincial pharmacare program.
- More direct support for workers through raising the minimum wage, introducing 10 paid sick days, and making it simpler for workers to unionize with legislation that enables card-based union certification.
These and other recommendations are outlined in Unifor's pre-budget submission.
Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. 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.