Last Thursday the Ford Conservatives launched their budget. A budget is the roadmap that governments use to guide their spending and priorities for the next year, so it is important to understand. As you read on, you’ll learn that Ford’s budget is underperforming and visionless.
Conservatives want Ontarians to think that this budget is the new normal – that today’s high cost of living and cuts to public services are as good as it gets. While corporations get new tax breaks, there's not much for struggling everyday Ontarians.
Ford continues to break his promises:
- Nothing to make up for the Bill 23 municipal deficits
- Municipalities staring at a $1 billion/year shortfall which will result in service cuts and higher taxes
- COVID costs were downloaded to school boards resulting in massive deficits
- Slower housing construction starts despite Bill 23 and paving over the Greenbelt
- Didn’t spend what they promised last year in healthcare and education
- More public healthcare dollars going to private profits
- Nothing to reverse the backlog for autism services
Income isn’t keeping up with cost of living:
- No minimum wage increase
- No pay increases for healthcare, childcare, and education workers
- The 5% ODSP increase puts people even further from a livable income following a year of skyrocketing rents and inflation
Prior to budget day, TDSB School Trustee Deborah Williams warned that urgent education funding increases are needed. So what's in the budget?
- No funding for schools to cover COVID costs
- Nothing about class sizes or hiring new staff and teachers
- Nothing about the $16.8B repair backlog
Yesterday Ontario’s NDP challenged Ford’s inadequate education funding by forcing debate on our Opposition Day motion for the government to cover the expenses school boards incurred because of COVID-19 — a motion Ford’s PCs voted down.
Ford says he is saving contingency funds for a rainy day, but it is already pouring in Ontario.
Projected spending in the coming year is only 1% higher than spending in the previous year, far below 2022’s composite annual inflation rate of 6.8%. This is a spending cut in real terms, since this year’s dollar buys less than last year outpacing the cost of living.
Ford’s overall funding for housing and municipal affairs is being cut by a whopping $124.4 million at a time when we need investments in deeply affordable, supportive, and missing middle housing. Our cities also need support to recover from COVID deficits and improve services, not make service cuts when people need public support the most.
Ontario’s healthcare needs are going up and this government’s plan isn’t keeping pace. With an ageing population and COVID still circulating, health care demand is growing almost twice as fast and this means longer wait times, more ER closures, and most certainly more staffing shortages.
Service cuts are coming as this budget fails to meet the financial challenges of the day.
Still there is hope. This government has changed course under massive public outcry. We can do it again. As your Member of Provincial Parliament, I will fight against funding cuts and do everything in my power to protect public services.
One of the most powerful tools that we have are your stories. If you and your family are being affected by these Ford’s service cuts please reply to this email sharing your lived experience. I may have the opportunity to share your story in the Legislature. Stories have the power to humanize issues and force Government members to consider a new perspective.
Toronto Centre NDP's Annual General Meeting
On Saturday the Toronto Centre NDP Riding Association hosted its Annual General Meeting and it was so much fun!
Marit Stiles joined us for the first time as our new Ontario NDP Leader and energized the room with her passion and spark. We made new friends and connected with old ones, enjoyed a delicious lunch, and elected a passionate executive with new and familiar faces alike. I can’t wait to see what these community leaders have in store for us this year.
Fighting to Stop Airborne Pandemics
Yesterday I introduced my private member’s bill to protect Ontario from current and future pandemics by ensuring that our infrastructure and laws protect all of us from airborne pandemics.
We are intensely proud of this bill. It gives Ontario a non-partisan and evidence-based roadmap to strengthen public health for generations to come. History is on our side. The next airborne pandemic will happen in our lifetimes. Future generations will look back at how we treat our shared air the way we look back at water management before public sanitation.
The bill is rooted in expertise and equity, ensuring that the lived experience of frontline workers, health care workers, and people surviving poverty is built into our planning for future pandemics. We have experienced a gruelling and devastating pandemic. And we have an opportunity to ensure no other generation is forced to go through the ongoing lockdowns, preventable deaths, and painful social conflict that we have all endured.
Calling out the LTB's Double Standard
New data shows that tenant applications are forced to wait twice as long as applications by landlords at the Landlord and Tenant Board. I challenged Ford to stop this unfairness and fund real access to justice during question period yesterday. Do you think he answered my question?
Welcoming Sarah Jama to Queen's Park
Yesterday MPP Sarah Jama was sworn in and took her seat at Queen’s Park. Along with New Democrats across Ontario, I am thrilled to have her joining our caucus. You can watch her historic entrance here:
Apply for Artscape's Summer Series Micro-Grant
Artscape at Daniels Spectrum in Regent Park is calling for applications to its Summer Series Program. They are awarding grants of up to $5,000 to applicants who have awesome ideas for animating the indoor space at Daniels Spectrum during the summer months. Have an idea? Apply here!
Cabbagetown Festival Call for Performers
The Cabbagetown Festival is back! I can’t wait to return and enjoy the festivities and the display of local talent is my favourite part. If you are a musician, dancer, magician, circus artist, or other performance artist apply today!
This Sunday: Protest Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Laws
Join me to raise your voice against this unjust and oppressive law this Sunday at 2pm at Yonge-Dundas Square. RSVP here.
As you have likely heard, buried in Ford's budget was a cruel cut to Ontario's health care coverage for people without health care insurance. As you also may have heard, last week Uganda passed a horrific homophobic law that criminalizes identifying as LGBTQ+. On Sunday I joined an emergency meeting of over 150 community members organizing to condemn this law — and I heard directly from Ugandan refugees who are afraid that Ford's cuts to health care will directly affect them. MPP France Gelinas and I teamed up in Question Period today to call on Ford to restore funding for this vital program. See our question here.
Yours in community,