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Analysis

Three Scary Things In Ontario’s 2019 Budget

Less money for social assistance, education, health and student support

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government issued its first budget, Thursday, and it’s full of cuts, and service reductions — thinly disguised. 

Here’s a rundown.

1) Social Services Cut

“For Health Providers, the scariest part of the provincial budget is the $1 Billion in cuts to annual spending of the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services by 2021-2022,” Dr. Jonathon Herriot co-chair of Health Providers Against Poverty told PressProgress.

The Toronto Star noted this cut also comes with a cancellation of the previous government’s planned 3% increase in welfare rates. The increase was halved, last Fall to 1.5%, with no increase earmarked in the budget that fails to mention “poverty” even once.

“With inadequate social assistance rate increases last year, none announced this year, and a plan to restrict the definition of disability for ODSP, this promise to cut $1 billion annually from this ministry threatens the already inadequate social support that our low income patients receive,” Herriot said.

2) Less Support For Struggling Students

The Toronto Star reported the 2019 budget touted the government’s 10 per cent tuition cut as a win for students. But, as The Globe reported, that’ll only save the average domestic university student $660 off their tuition — which is usually around $7000 annually.

And, even that comes with the government doubling-down on eliminating grants providing free education to students from the poorest families and eliminating the six month grace period for interest on student loans.

PressProgress reported previously, that will leave struggling students worse-off.

And, the Star noted, it leaves poor students in the “loser” category of this year’s budget.

Apprentices are also worse off. Though, the budget touts financial incentives for employers to train apprentices, the standards for apprenticeships remain much lower owing to Ford’s overhaul of the system. As PressProgress reported, that overhaul means worse-quality training and maybe more injured apprentices.

3) Education Cut, Health Underfunded

The budget earmarks an increase in education spending by only 1.2%, over three years. That’s less than what’s needed to match inflation, let alone population growth. 

Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association, told the Toronto Star “there is absolutely really not any increase here for us.”

Likewise, the Huffington Post noted, the budget’s increase in health spending falls roughly $5 billion short of what the Financial Accountability Office found is needed to maintain the services it currently provides to an aging population.

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