Canadian Manufacturing

Ontario budget doesn’t meet immediate pandemic needs according to critics

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce also welcomed supports for businesses and funding specifically geared toward the tourism sector, jobs training and broadband internet.

March 25, 2021  The Canadian Press

Critics of Ontario’s $186-billion spending plan say it fails to meet the immediate needs of residents and small businesses struggling through the pandemic.

The budget tabled by the Progressive Conservative government includes $6.7 billion in pandemic spending, including $1 billion for the provincial vaccination effort and $2.3 billion for contact tracing and testing.

The government will offer a second round of grants to small businesses to help with pandemic expenses, create a new job training tax credit and provide more benefits to families with children.

But opposition critics, unions and other stakeholders say supports for people are too slow, insufficient or nonexistent.

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NDP Leader Andrea Horwath highlighted the lack of funds for hiring more teachers, slow relief for long-term care and the absence of a paid sick day policy to protect workers during the worsening third wave of COVID-19 infections.

Catherine Fife, the NDP’s finance critic, says business grants didn’t expand to more sectors and left out a large number of small businesses that employ many Ontarians.

“If there was ever a budget in the history of this province to invest in people, in businesses, this was the one, and this government missed the mark,” Fife said on Mar. 24.

Advocacy group People for Education said the budget made no mention of the critical need to address the effect of the pandemic on schools, students and staff. Instead, the government is sending “small cheques” to parents through its Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit, it said.

Others criticized the lack of environmental considerations in the economic recovery plan. Keith Brooks, programs director of Environmental Defence, said his organization was disappointed the budget didn’t include plans for a green recovery that centres on climate change.

“We were hopeful that the Ontario government would take this opportunity to revisit and reset its hostile approach to the environment. Sadly, that’s not the case,” Brooks said in a statement.

Business, health-care and industry groups, meanwhile, welcomed relief laid out for their sectors.

Anthony Dale, CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, said the group appreciates new funding as hospitals work to “maintain stability during this ongoing crisis.”

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce also welcomed supports for businesses and funding specifically geared toward the tourism sector, jobs training and broadband internet.


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