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TORONTO, ON – The last provincial budget left 2 million Ontarians on wait lists for vital public services, or living in poverty as a result of criminally low social assistance and stagnant minimum wage rates. Ontario’s next budget must address this growing inequality by generating revenue and re-investing to stimulate growth, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn told the provincial finance committee in pre-budget consultations tonight.
“Last year’s budget left two million people on waitlists for crucial public services like long-term care, child care and affordable housing; trapped in a cycle of poverty with social assistance rates lower than they were before Mike Harris, with growing ranks of working poor stuck with a stagnant minimum wage,” said Hahn. “Austerity has failed Ontarians. If Premier Wynne truly wants to make Ontario number one for growth, she must chart a new course; invest in public services and social infrastructure.”
The Ontarians waiting for positive change in the budget include:
23,000 families waiting for developmental services
32,000 seniors waiting for long-term care beds
10,000 seniors waiting for home care
21,000 children waiting for child care in Toronto alone
156,000 people waiting for affordable housing
465,000 Ontario Works recipients waiting for non-poverty rates
425,000 ODSP recipients waiting to be lifted out of poverty
631,000 minimum-wage workers waiting for a raise above the poverty line
There are also thousands more families across Ontario searching for licensed child care, First Nations waiting for liveable housing and safe water, women and racialized Ontarians waiting for pay and employment equity, commuters waiting for public transit. And this isn’t new. Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians have been waiting for years to see positive change for them and their families.
A sharp contrast to how quickly the top one percent of income earners can generate what it takes the rest of us to earn in a year – done in 17 days. And it only took Dwight Duncan, previous Minister of Finance 22 days to land himself a job on Bay St. after leaving Queen’s Park.
“The Liberals were quick to cut taxes for corporations, but have been very slow to tackle poverty and inequality,” said Hahn. “If continued, the last government’s austerity agenda will cut the GDP by 3%, pull $20 billion out of the economy and cost Ontarians 100,000 jobs. That’s bad for everyone.”
CUPE Ontario’s pre-budget submission contains concrete recommendations on fair taxation; poverty; health care; child care and children’s services; infrastructure; public, transparent use of public money; and promoting labour peace.
To download a copy of the pre-budget submission, follow this link: https://cupe.on.ca/a5561/Pre-Budget-Submission-Final.pdf.
For a summary, follow this link: http://www.cupe.on.ca/a5560/2013%20March%2021%20Pre-Budget%20summary%20page%20FINAL.pdf
For more information, please contact:
Craig Saunders, CUPE Communications, 416-576-7316