OFL Response to Ontario Budget 2023: Nowhere Near “Enough” for Ontario Workers

TORONTO, March 23, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) calls the 2023 Ontario Budget another missed opportunity to address the hardships facing working people in this province: stagnant wages and weak working conditions; crumbling public services; unaffordable basic goods, housing, and rent; and rising economic inequality.

“Uncertain times require bold leadership, and the Ford government has once again failed to deliver with this budget. Ontarians are fed up,” said Patty Coates, OFL President. “The Ford government has touted this budget as ‘staying-the-course’. Meanwhile, Ontarians are losing access to healthcare, while Ford underfunds and privatizes our public services. Workers shouldn’t have to pay for crises they didn’t create.”

According to the FAO’s forecast, the government has $12.5 billion in excess funds over three years that are not currently required to support existing programs or announced commitments. Despite these excess funds, there are still significant funding shortfalls in some sectors, including health care and education.

“Accumulating billions in surplus funds while our health care system teeters on the brink of collapse – and at a time when Ontarians need it most – is beyond cruel,” said Coates. “The solutions are crystal clear. The government has enough money to cover the shortfalls in health care and education. Invest in our public services – not in for-profit care. Stop fighting workers in court with the appeal of Bill 124. The budget is about priorities. And the Ford government has the wrong ones. Enough is enough.”

A no-strings-attached corporate tax break of up to $780 million over three years is absolutely the wrong move, says the OFL. We need a government that invests in workers and public services, not one that helps the rich get richer at our expense. Revenues are up, and Ontarians need help now. The budget should provide stability and support for all people in this province, including a much-needed doubling of OW and ODSP supports.

The government’s Worker Income Protection Benefit, administered through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, provided a maximum of three days paid sick leave and was set to expire at the end of this month. The government is doubling down on their refusal to legislate paid sick days for the lowest paid, most vulnerable workers. Public health experts, including Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table, have long advocated that strong, effective sick pay requires 10 employer-paid sick days.

“We can’t move past the pandemic without real public health supports. Without paid sick days, the strain on our health care system will continue, contributing further to overcrowding and long wait times,” said Coates.

In addition to paid sick days, the OFL articulates a bold and progressive vision for Ontario with its Enough is Enough campaign, which includes demands such as decent working conditions, easier access to join a union, strong public services, economic equality, affordable housing, and healthy communities for everyone.

“As long as Ford fails to address this crisis, Ontario workers will continue to fight for what they need,” added Coates. “When we say ‘enough is enough,’ we really mean it, and that’s why we’re putting this campaign into high gear.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact:

Rob Halpin
Executive Director
Ontario Federation of Labour
rhalpin@ofl.ca | 416-707-9014