Gleaner

Serving Toronto's most liveable communities with the Annex Gleaner and Liberty Gleaner

FORUM: Top takeaways for our community from Ontario’s 2019 budget (Summer 2019)

July 16th, 2019 · No Comments

Education, health care, social services, legal aid, all on chopping block

By Jessica Bell, MPP (University—Rosedale) 

On April 11, the Ford government presented their first budget called “Ontario’s Plan to Protect What Matters Most”. It’s an ironic title, considering how many cuts to key services are included.  Below is a brief round-up of some of the biggest announcements and their impact on our community. 

One of the biggest cuts in the budget is for Community and Social Services, which will lose a billion dollars over the next four years

Post-secondary education

The budget made it clear that the Conservatives are taking a stand against colleges and universities. The government has announced that funding for post-secondary educations will decline by $400 million, with a significant impact on student affordability. In addition, universities and colleges will now have their funding tied to “performance agreements”, requiring institutions to reach targets set by the government in order to access as much as 60 per cent of funding. Details on the targets and metrics that will be used have not been provided. 

Thousands of students, faculty, administrators, and others that work and study at the University of Toronto live in University-Rosedale. I will continue to push for more, not less, funding for post-secondary institutions. 

Education

The budget confirmed that, under Premier Ford, education funding for kindergarten to grade 12 will not keep pace with inflation. We’ve already seen what that means: larger classes, fewer available courses and teacher layoffs. School boards are warning that this level of funding will mean class sizes of up to 46 students, fewer courses, and thousands of fired teachers. 

University-Rosedale is home to great public schools. Students at these schools have been standing up for their right to a quality education. I recently received a letter signed by hundreds of students at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, asking me to stand up to Ford’s education cuts. I will continue to advocate for them and for all students in University-Rosedale. 

Health care

Like education, the annual funding allocated for health care in the budget doesn’t keep pace with inflation. That means that as our population ages and needs go up, funding will be less in real terms than it is today. Hospitals have already warned that this level of funding will mean cuts to services and layoffs of frontline staff.

University-Rosedale is home to some of the best hospitals and health care facilities in Canada. I am deeply concerned about Premier Ford’s clear cut in health care spending, as well as the decision to slash $200 million by reducing the number of public health units to just 10, down from 35. Public health units help prevent diseases and injury, and this decrease has generated concern from experts including Ontario’s former chief medical officer of health.

Social services and legal aid

One of the biggest cuts in the budget is for Community and Social Services, which will lose a billion dollars over the next four years. The Conservatives have refused to tell us how this will impact people with disabilities and other vulnerable citizens. One thing we do know is that the Conservatives have cut legal aid funding by 30 per cent, including eliminating funding for legal services for immigrants and refugees. 

In our community we have a range of legal clinics that help low-income people access essential legal services. Denying legal representation and advice to some of our most vulnerable residents is wrong. I support the petition put forward by the Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario to reverse these harmful cuts, and will continue to push for a fair and accountable justice system where everyone’s rights are met.

Jessica Bell is Member of Provinical Parliament for University-Rosedale.

READ MORE

Tags: Annex · Opinion