The government tabled its 2021 budget on Wednesday. Instead of making the major investments that are required to keep communities safe and support people who are struggling, the budget makes $4.8 billion in cuts.
While some items, including 4 hours of hands-on care for long-term care residents, something we have long called for are welcome, they will not take effect for years. The 4 hours of hands-on care will take four years or longer to be implemented.
Worst of all, the budget contains no paid sick days, no paid time off for workers to get the vaccine, no permanent pay increase for personal support workers, and cuts $790 million from schools.
Click here for a full summary of what’s included, and what’s not included, in Budget 2021.
Education, Childcare and Post-Secondary
- The COVID-19 child benefits will be doubled to $400 per child and $500 per child with special needs.
- One‐time top‐up for CARE tax credit recipients equal to 20 percent of their 2021 credit entitlements.
- No replenishment of school board reserves, or commitment to extend COVID-19 funding for smaller class sizes, hiring more staff - we expect teacher and other education worker layoffs as a result.
- School repair funding will remain at 1.4 billion this year, the bare minimum to keep schools operational, while the 16.3 Billion dollar backlog accrued over the last 16 years remains untouched.
- Tuition freeze in the university sector is continued, with access to OSAP expanded for some students at Indigenous Institutions and those in micro-credit programs.
Doubling of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments to eligible recipients.
The government says that 120,000 small businesses will receive one additional payment between $10,000-$20,000 and will be automatically entitled to the second payment. Note this does not change the eligibility requirements which have kept a number of businesses from accessing these funds in the first place.
- No extended tax deferral periods for businesses that were significantly impacted by the second shutdown or small business tax forgiveness
- No insurance relief for businesses struggling to access P&C insurance due to lack of availability and/or skyrocketing rates
- No new housing announcements were included in the budget, while Ottawa and Ontario faces an affordable housing and homelessness crisis. Investments in social housing will continue to decline as federal-provincial agreements expire.
- The Government is once again postponing the property tax reassessment process. Government will consult with municipalities about when to resume this reassessment process.
Environment and Climate Change
- After significant cuts in the first year of this government, Environment Ministry funding is flat compared to previous years.
- $3.9 million over three years to enhance the provincial park experience by using technology and free day-use entry to parks Monday to Thursday, May 1 to September 2 this year.
- $56.4m over four years for “Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network” (OVIN) - with details of what the looks like to come.
- No mention of combating climate change and no line item included for climate-change initiatives.
- No restoration of Conservation Authorities or walk back of Ministerial Zoning Orders.
Health & Long Term Care
- There is no commitment to wage increases for underpaid, overworked Personal Support Workers beyond June 30 2021.
- Despite the many deaths and failure to keep Long Term Care residents safe during the pandemic, the government continues to refuse to reinstate comprehensive Resident Quality Inspections in long-term care.
- No commitment to phase out “for profit” LTC homes.
- As announced previously, there will be an additional $933 million over four years, for a total of $2.6 billion, to support building 30,000 new long‐term care beds.
- Investing up to $246 million over the next four years to improve living conditions in existing homes, including ensuring homes have air conditioning.
- $4.9 billion over four years ($500 million in 2021-22) to increase average daily direct care to 4 hours per day, and hire 27,000 positions including PSWs and Nurses.
- Some support to accelerate the training of PSWs and nurses for Long Term Care including a training program that is publicly funded, tuition‐free. There are also some new grants coming to attract more PSWs and nurses to Ontario.
- Funding for CHEO to build a new treatment centre for kids and teens with special and complex needs in Ottawa. The centre is expected to open in 2024 or 2025.
People with Disabilities
- 0% increase for ODSP rates, which remain well below the poverty line.
- $3.7 million to provide transportation for people with disabilities and seniors to their vaccination appointments.
- Creating a task force to advise the government on ways to “address the unique and disproportionate barriers women face, particularly in an economy that will look different after COVID”
- $18.2M over three year to address violence against First Nation, Inuit and Metis women and girls.
- Other than some funding for job training and the increase in the CARE credit, there appears to be no strategy to deal with the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and women in the workforce.
- Funding to assist survivors of domestic violence is being increased by $2.1M but that funding is over three years, and includes funding for other victims of violent crimes. This doesn’t include the funding Ford cut for victims of crime and support for survivors in his first budgets
Arts and Culture, Tourism
- New Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant, which will provide an estimated $100 million in one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses.
- Just $10 million in additional funding for Ontario’s arts organizations “with support from the Ontario Arts Council, at a time when our local arts orgs are barely getting by and facing an uncertain year ahead.
- There is nothing in the budget for individual artists or folks working in the gig economy.