Serving Toronto's most liveable community with the Annex Gleaner

FORUM: Conservative budget doesn’t deliver for Toronto (Mar. 2023)

April 12th, 2023 · No Comments

Ford’s budget leaves us hanging

By Jessica Bell

The Conservative’s budget was released on March 23. Overall, the budget increases spending by one per cent, far below the 6.8 per cent rate of inflation. We will be seeing cuts. Here’s the lowdown.

Health care

Funding for health care is about the same as last year, even though demand is growing. The Conservatives are putting more money toward for-profit health clinics in the budget. For-profit health care will worsen staff shortages in the public system, lead to more emergency room closures, and cost Ontarians more. 

We are hearing reports of scheduled cancer surgeries in Ottawa being delayed because nursing staff weren’t available to staff the recovery room because they were engaged in “private work.” Nursing staff can earn double at the for-profit orthopedic clinic that rents out operating rooms at the same hospital on Saturdays.  

We should resolve the surgery backlog and provide care quickly to Ontarians by investing in public health care, paying health care workers higher wages, and staffing up public operating rooms so they can operate on evenings and weekends. 

Mental health

There’s more funding for community mental health care and addictions which is absolutely needed in our riding. 


There’s no new funding for transit operations or maintenance which means the big TTC service cuts in March will remain. In our area, we will see less service on the Line 2 subway line, Queen Street and Dufferin Street. The province used to match the city’s share to the TTC’s budget, and it should do so again. 


The Conservatives announced $202 million each year for two years to homelessness prevention and Indigenous supportive housing. 

Don’t think for a second this is new money. Overall, funding to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, which funds housing, is being cut by $124 million. 

There is more funding to ease the backlog at the Landlord Tenant Board. To make housing affordable, Ontario must build 1.5 million new homes in areas zoned for development, end exclusionary zoning, stabilize rent, clamp down on investor-speculation, and establish a public builder to construct affordable housing on public land. 

Education and childcare

The Conservatives have been falsely boasting about their historic investment in education, but the entire funding increase is coming from the $2.3 billion the federal government gave Ontario for childcare. 

We will not know the full extent of the school cuts for a few months. The TDSB is projecting a $61 million shortfall for the coming year and a loss of 522 staff positions. There is sufficient funding to maintain the 50 per cent reduction in childcare fees, with the goal of reaching $10 a day childcare by 2025. Most of this is federal money. 

The issue is capacity. This budget doesn’t allocate money to increasing wages to stem the exodus of childcare workers. The budget allocates $226 million to help build the 226,000 childcare spots that need to be created. 


There is no new money to improve Ontario’s inadequate autism funding programs.


Toronto is getting a seven per cent hike in property taxes and a cut in services and infrastructure because Ford is not giving any new money to cities to help us prosper and pay for the services the entire GTHA uses. 

Bill 23 also curtails Toronto’s ability to collect development fees for services, such as transit, affordable housing, and parks. 

Unless the federal government rescues us, we’re on track for more property tax hikes and service cuts for years to come.


While social assistance rates are now indexed to inflation, the budget did not increase the base rate for Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Payments. We are calling for a doubling of the social assistance rates because it’s morally the right thing to do, and it’s cheaper. 


There’s no new money for climate action. 

We will continue to push for a budget that puts people first, invests in good jobs and public services, makes life affordable, and protects our future.

Jessica Bell is the MPP for University-Rosedale and the Official Opposition’s Housing Critic. She can be reached at 416-535-7206. 


Tags: Annex · Columns · Opinion