Education and labor groups are panning the Ford government’s 2022 Throne Speech, calling it out of touch and a missed opportunity.
The Ontario Federation of Labor (OFL), which represents 54 unions and one million workers across the province, accused the Progressive Conservative government of failing to deliver any measures that would bring relief to Ontario workers and families.
“Ontario’s emergency rooms are shutting down, and working people are struggling to make ends meet,” said OFL President Patty Coates in a news release. “If Ford thinks a months-old budget is the solution, he has utterly failed to grasp the scale of the crises facing our province.”
Following the Throne Speech, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy re-tabled the 2022 Ontario Budget that had been introduced, but not passed, ahead of the provincial election this past June.
The provincial budget included $114.4 million over three years for a Skilled Trades Strategy, and an increase in the general minimum wage to $15.50, which took effect on October 1.
However, the OFL said the budget fails to keep up with surging inflation, Ontario’s population growth, and the growing needs of Ontario’s seniors.
“What Ford put on our plate today is stale warmed-up left-overs,” said Coates. “On its first day back, this government is admitting it is already out of ideas, and clearly out of touch.”
The OFL is calling on the Ford government to increase employer-paid sick days, raise the minimum wage to $20 per hour, and repeal the pay cap on nurses’ wages.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) also expressed its displeasure in the Throne Speech over a lack of new investments in public education.
One amendment to the provincial budget was an additional investment of $225 million over two years to provide direct payments to parents to help their children catch up following two years of pandemic-related shutdowns. According to the province, this funding adds to more than $26.6 billion the province is currently investing in public education. The Ford government claims this is the greatest education investment in Ontario’s history.
However, the ETFO disagreed with the province’s assertion and accused the Ford government of underfunding public education.
“Despite the Ford government’s claims that they are making historic investments in education, the Financial Accountability Office has projected that there will be an education spending shortfall of $12.3 billion over nine years,” the ETFO said in a news release. “This is untenable, unsustainable, and unacceptable.”
The ETFO represents around 83,000 educators and support personnel across the province.