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Ontario government fails to accelerate long-term care fixes in 2021 budget

The Ontario Legislative Building at Queen's Park.
March 24, 2021 - 12:00 AM

March 24, 2021

TORONTO – Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy’s 2021 provincial budget fails to address Ontario’s crisis in long-term care, and leaves questions about the direction and strength of the province’s economic recovery says Unifor.

“To put it bluntly, Ontario families need more. This budget could have put the province back on track, but instead the government tabled a tepid plan that does not match the task at hand,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We should have seen a pandemic budget that provides support for workers who need it today, but that’s not what was delivered.”  

Instead of fixing the long-term care crisis now, this budget invests only 10% of the announced funding, or $0.5 billion, in 2021-22 to address the mandate of four hours of direct care.

“This virus is not slowing down, and we need to speed up our response. The provincial government is delaying implementation of this basic standard that will improve safety and working conditions across our broken long-term care sector,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.

The Union’s pre-budget submission recommended that the Ontario government focus on two simultaneous goals for budget 2021: keep Ontarians protected through the coronavirus pandemic and ensure we build a better Ontario coming out of this crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis quickly exposed how inequality influences the ability of many communities to be able to withstand this pandemic. In the spring of 2020, Unifor added its voice behind the need for race-based data collection on the virus, and at that same time advocated for changes to labour laws that would protect workers from contracting COVID-19 on the job.

“We have said this for more than a year now, that paid sick days are a matter of public health, and are required to protect the most precarious and vulnerable workers from this virus,” said Rizvi. ”The government’s current refusal to introduce this measure speaks volumes, but workers’ voices will be louder still.”

Unifor is encouraged by the government’s significant investments in broadband services across the province. While investment to examine the needs of passenger rail service between Toronto, North Bay, Timmins and Cochrane is also promising, residents and workers need a speedy reintroduction of Ontario Northland rail service.

In the summer of 2020, Unifor released its ‘Road Map for a Fair, Inclusive and Resilient Economic Recovery’ with comprehensive recommendations to #BuildBackBetter.

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.

To arrange Skype, FaceTime, or telephone interviews contact, contact Sarah McCue, Unifor National Communications Representative at 416-458-3307 (cell) or sarah.mccue@unifor.org.