Fiscal update has zero dollars for schools, a pittance spent on long-term care’s COVID-19 battle
Ford’s priorities lead to penny pinching in all the wrong places: NDP
QUEEN’S PARK — The Doug Ford government’s first-quarter fiscal update shows that $0 has been added to the education budget, and that since April, the government spent a mere $218 million more on long-term care — nowhere near enough to buy the iron ring nursing homes needed.
“Parents, teachers, education workers, students and school boards are imploring the government to fund smaller, safer classes — and the cost of failing to do that is unthinkable,” said NDP Finance critic Sandy Shaw. The Ford government previously announced about $300 million – a completely inadequate amount — for their bargain basement back-to-school scheme, but that money doesn’t appear in the update released Wednesday.
“The government is pinching pennies on the backs of our children, and that choice is so risky for our children’s health and wellbeing. We should be spending what it takes to get all kids into smaller, safer classes — to keep them safe, and to protect our progress in the fight against COVID-19.”
Shaw said it’s devastating to learn that not only did Ford underspend his health and long-term care budget by $466 million, but he spent just $218 million in the raging battle against COVID-19 in long-term care homes.
“More than 1,845 seniors and frontline health care workers tragically died in long-term care homes. It’s abundantly, heart-breakingly clear that $218 million was nowhere near enough to fund the iron-ring around nursing homes that was needed,” said NDP finance critic Sandy Shaw.
“Doug Ford spent nearly two years making deep cuts to public health, to schools and to long-term care, and it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has not changed his priorities,” said Shaw. “If the NDP was in charge of the budget right now, we’d be doing whatever it takes to make classes smaller and safer, and to make sure they have proper ventilation. We’d be sparing no expense in long-term care. We’d be funding public health units. We’re urging Doug Ford to go back to the drawing board, and invest in what really matters to Ontario families.”
- After the 2019-20 budget made deep cuts, Doug Ford stripped even more out of things like long-term care by underspending. According to an FAO report, the government spent $466 million less than it promised to in the 2019-20 budget, including:
- $49 million less for public health programs
- $65 million less for hospitals, long-term care homes and community programs
- $314 million less for hospital infrastructure projects
- The first-quarter fiscal update allocates just $100 million for public health units
- $218 million, the total new amount for long-term care, is 0.1 per cent of the province’s total spending