The Ford Government’s 2022 Ontario Budget is a Slap in the Face for 2.6 Million Ontarians with Disabilities

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance Update United for a Barrier-Free Society for All People with Disabilities Web: https://www.aodaalliance.org
Email: aodafeedback@gmail.com
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April 29, 2022

SUMMARY

The 2022 Ontario Budget is a major slap in the face for 2.6 million Ontarians with disabilities. Ontarians with disabilities bore the biggest brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were more likely to get COVID-19, to suffer its worst impacts, and to die from it. They were systematically left out of much of the Ford Government’s emergency response to it. The “new normal” is one where people with disabilities are worse off, and face troubling new barriers, as the April 22, 2022 AODA Alliance update documents. The new Ontario Budget does nothing to correct any of this.

The Budget speech does not use the word “disability”, not even once. It does nothing to keep any of the Ford Government’s unkept 2018 election pledges to people with disabilities. It is a formula for continuing to create new disability barriers, using public money.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requires the Ontario Government to lead Ontario to become accessible to people with disabilities by 2025. In our November 22, 2021 letter to the Ontario party leaders, the AODA Alliance had to sadly declare that Ontario will not reach that goal, due to years of deficient government leadership. The 2022 Ontario Budget neither mentions this goal nor will make meaningful progress towards achieving it.

As we have done in the past, especially on the eve of an Ontario election campaign, the AODA Alliance scrutinizes the 2022 Ontario Budget, announced on April 28, 2022, through a disability lens. After our analysis of it, we set out the Finance Minister’s Budget speech and Official Opposition response to it, below.

MORE DETAILS

Pledging New Infrastructure Without Preventing New Disability Barriers

The Ontario Budget talks about spending huge amounts of public money on major infrastructure projects such as hospitals, schools and public transit. Yet it includes absolutely no new requirements, commitments or other measures to ensure that this new infrastructure will be designed to be accessible to and barrier-free for people with disabilities. From ample past experience, the Government’s failure to do so is a guarantee that public money will again be used to create new disability barriers.

Our widely-viewed 2018 online video about new transit construction shows how Ontario’s Metrolinx built serious new disability barriers into new Toronto-area transit stations. The new Ontario Budget would give Metrolinx another $60 billion to do more of the same. There is no accountability or safeguards to prevent the creation of new disability barriers with the public’s money. The Government has had in hand the final report of the Transportation Standards Development Committee for over four years. It recommends measures to strengthen Ontario’s weak 2011 Transportation Accessibility Standard, enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. In its four years in office, the Ford Government has done nothing whatsoever to implement that report, or even to discuss it with us and with Ontario’s broad disability community.

The Budget commits $40 billion to new hospitals, with no commitment to ensure that they are designed to be accessible to and barrier-free for patients with disabilities. Earlier this year, the Ford Government received the final report of the Health Care Standards Development Committee. It identifies the many disability barriers in Ontario’s health care system, and recommends the actions needed to fix this. Here again, The Ontario Budget and the Ford Government generally have said not a word and committed not a dime to implement it. As the Government said in other contexts in the Budget, but not for people with disabilities:

“Theres no time to delay. Its time to get it done.”

Nothing For Workers and Unemployed Job-Seekers with Disabilities

But wait. There’s more! The Budget speech talks over and over about how it will ensure more jobs for Ontarians. However, it includes nothing at all about ensuring that any of those jobs will be accessible to job-seekers with disabilities. Ontario’s former Lieutenant Governor David Onley has said time and again that the national unemployment rate facing people with disabilities in Canada is not only a national crisis; it is a national shame.

The Ford Government has done nothing to strengthen the weak Employment Accessibility Standard that was enacted under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act eleven years ago. Over three years ago, in January 2019, the Ford Government received the final report of the Employment Standards Development Committee. It called for that accessibility standard to be strengthened. The Ford Government did nothing to implement that report. Making this worse, the Ford Government unlawfully kept that report secret for some two years. That violated the AODA. The AODA required the Ford Government to make that report public upon receiving it.

The Budget promises to move masses of public sector jobs out of Toronto, without ensuring that the new locations of those jobs will have accessible transit to reach them. It is doing so at the same time as the Government has been spending millions to undertake a massive renovation of the Macdonald Block, the main headquarters of much of the Ontario Public Service in the heart of downtown Toronto. That sounds like an incoherent approach to spending public money!

Disability Poverty Left to Fester

The Ontario Budget included no increase to the Ontario Disability Support Plan ODSP to help Ontario’s most vulnerable and impoverished people with disabilities. This is so even though the Budget speech talked about providing new measures to:

“help people across Ontario keep a few extra dollars in their pocket, right now, so they can continue to: pay the rent; pay the bills; pay for gas; and pay for the groceries.”

Do the distinctive needs of the most poor and vulnerable people with disabilities fit that description? Are they even seen as part of the Government’s “new normal” in Ontario?

The Budget’s $300-per-year tax credit for lower income workers will not make much of a dent in this plight of persistent poverty. We wonder how many poor, vulnerable people with disabilities have access to skilled tax planners to avail themselves of such a tax credit.

Accessible Housing Crisis Needs More than a Vague, Tiny Dent

Ontario has for years had an increasing crisis in the form of a shortage of accessible housing for people with disabilities. What does the Ontario budget say about it? There is this:

” We are saying yes to new homesaccessible homes and affordable homes. Well let others talk about housing. Were going to build housing right here in Ontario.
In fact, as part of our plan, we will increase the housing supply by building 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years.
Its time to put more housing options within the reach of the families who so badly need them. When we talk about building new homes for families, we say, lets get it done.”

This announces no plan and no commitment to ensure that these new homes are accessible to people with disabilities. It includes no intent to revise the Ontario Building Code to make its accessibility requirements (inadequate as they are) apply at all to new home construction.

The Budget’s only reference directly or indirectly to disability accessibility is this:

” And we are proposing a new Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit … To help seniors and their families with home care medical expenses …
Including attendant care, assistive breathing devices, hearing aids and walking aids. This tax credit would build on our Seniors Home Safety Tax Credit …
Which helps cover the costs for stair lifts, handrails and other renovations to help make homes safe and accessible, so we can preserve our hospital and long-term-care beds for those who truly need them the most.”

This is at most a tiny dent in a serious problem. It leaves out people with disabilities who are not seniors, as well as the many whose poverty means they are not in a position to renovate a home they own.

Education for Hundreds of Thousands of Students with Disabilities Ignored

The Ontario Budget talks about Ontario’s pressing need for more skilled workers, and the importance of expanding training to achieve this. However, it says not a word and commits not a dime to tearing down the many disability barriers in Ontario’s schools, colleges and universities that impede so many students with disabilities from equal access to the training they need to compete fairly in the job market.

The Ford Government has in hand the final reports of the K-12 Education Standards Development Committee and the Post-Secondary Education Standards Development Committee. These reports describe these barriers in detail, and offer a doable plan for achieving a barrier-free education system in Ontario. The Ford Government has announced no action and committed no money to implement any of these recommendations. It has known for months and months what those reports were going to include in substantial part. When it comes to hundreds of thousands of students with disabilities in Ontario, we repeat the words that the Ontario Budget used, but not for students with disabilities:

“Theres no time to delay. Its time to get it done.”

Text of the Ontario Budget and Opposition Response

Ontario Hansard April 28, 2022

Originally posted at https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/house-documents/parliament-42/session-2/2022-04-28/hansard#P1568_231869 Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: First off, I want to acknowledge my mother, Ester Bethlenfalvy, and of course my wife, Paula Hughes; my sister, Carla Bethlenfalvy; and finally, my father, Nick, whos in hospital. Dad, get better soon. Were going to have a Scotch together real soon.
Its my honour to rise on behalf of Premier Ford and our entire government to introduce our 2022 budget. Mr. Speaker, its a budget that says yes to rebuilding Ontarios economy.
Its a budget that says yes to keeping costs down for Ontario families and putting more money back in their pockets. Its a budget that says yes for working for Ontario workers.
And, Mr. Speaker, its a budget that says yes to building highways, building transit and building key infrastructure around our province. And a budget that says yes to keeping Ontario opentoday and in the future.
Monsieur le Président, les Ontariennes et les Ontariens méritent un gouvernement qui a un vrai plan pour bâtir lavenir de la province.
Mr. Speaker, after two long years, where the people of Ontario have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to keep each other safe … After working so hard to get Ontario open and keep Ontario open. The people of our province deserve a government that has a real plan to build. Mr. Speaker.
This budget.
Our budget.
Ontarios budget.
Is Premier Fords vision.
And our plan,
To cut through the excuses,
To act right away …
On the priorities of our plan and our province.
This is our plan, and we will get it done.
So, in that spiritlets get to our plan.
Lets start with our plan to get it done when it comes to rebuilding Ontarios economy. When we came into office, it was clear that we had a lot of work to do.
Take manufacturing: The previous Liberal government gave up on manufacturing, full stop. In a time of struggle, manufacturing workers were looking for a government that would fight for them, but the previous government said no. Not only did they fail to challenge the assumption that manufacturing decline was inevitable, they embraced it to the tune of 300,000 lost manufacturing jobs over the course of more than a decade. Mr. Speaker, where the Liberals said no, weve said yes.
Our government took action to bring good jobs back to Ontario. We worked with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to provide a rebate for some 300,000 eligible employers so they can pay their workers more, create new jobs and help grow the economy.
We introduced an accelerated capital cost allowance to help businesses invest in new equipment … Reduced industrial energy costs, by between 15% and 17% …
And cut hundreds of millions in red tape.
Mr. Speaker, we have released a seamless end-to-end vision and a plan for the auto sector called Driving Prosperity …
To jump-start our auto sector with the emerging opportunities in hybrid and electric vehicle production … So that Ontario can be an auto leader once again.
And were already getting it done.
We were proud to partner with the federal government, municipal governments …
And forward-thinking partners in key sectors such as the auto supply chain to transform our auto sector, including:
Dofasco on a once-in-a-generation $1.8-billion investment to make Ontario a world-leading producer of clean steel …
This investment also secures Hamiltons position as a world leader in steel production and ensures a sustainable and growing future for the 4,600 people in Hamilton who work there.
Honda Canadas $1.4-billion investment to upgrade and retool its Alliston plants, so workers there can build next-generation hybrid vehicles …
Right here in Ontario, made by Ontario workers, and sold right across North America … And great news for the 4,200 people who work for Honda Canada in Ontario. 1610
But wait, Mr. Speaker, theres more:
The $2-billion investment by General Motors to pave the way for GMs first-ever electric vehicle (EV) production line in Ontario at Ingersoll … while supporting continued vehicle production in Oshawa … An investment that will support 2,600 jobs in Oshawa.
But Mr. Speaker, wait, theres more:
The largest greenfield investment in over a decadethe $5-billion investment by LG Energy Solution and Stellantis to build Ontarios first-ever large-scale electric vehicle battery manufacturing plant … An investment that will create 2,500 new jobs in the Windsor area.
Mr. Speaker, its worth noting that our commitment to renewing the auto sector is also an example of how our government is helping create clean and green jobs.
These investments in clean steel alone are the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.
And by ramping up our production of clean steel, hybrids and electrical vehicles … We are showing that Ontario can hit our climate targets …
Without imposing a carbon tax.
Mr. Speaker, our commitment to rebuilding the auto sector also shows our commitment to ensuring Ontarios prosperity is shared.
Chaque petite ville et chaque communauté regorgent de talents et de possibilités, et chacune mérite de prospérer.
De la région du nord à celle de lest et du sud-ouest, notre plan favorisera la prospérité partout et pour tous.
Every small town, every small city, every community is rich in talent and opportunity, and they all deserve to succeed, Mr. Speaker.
From the north, to the southwest to the east, our plan will bring prosperity everywhere, for everyone in Ontario. And we are leading by example.
Working with our provincial agency partners, we will ensure communities across the province benefit from good jobs working in government and for provincial agencies.
Starting with the relocation of the headquarters of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to London.
And we are looking to headquarter new agencies like Supply Ontario, Invest Ontario and Intellectual Property Ontario … In communities outside of Toronto.
Because, Mr. Speaker, every region in Ontario should have access to the opportunities that these jobs will bring. And while were at it, Mr. Speaker …
It is time to do more to tap into the enormous resource potential spread across this province. Starting with the Ring of Fire.
Canada is the only country in the western hemisphere with all of the raw materials required for a lithium-ion battery …
With northern Ontario producing graphite, cobalt, lithium, nickel and other required minerals.
The Ring of Fire has the potential to bring multigenerational prosperity to northern and First Nation communities …
While supporting a homegrown supply chain for battery technology, electronics, and electric and hybrid vehicles. In an era of geopolitical instability …
Seizing our critical mineral opportunity and developing the Ring of Fire is a strategic necessity for Canada …
Our government has released Ontarios Critical Minerals Strategy, a five-year road map that will help make this province a global leader in supplying critical minerals.
And a key part of our plan, Speaker, is the corridor to prosperity … the roads to the Ring of Fire.
These roads will help bring critical minerals to the manufacturing hubs in the south, which will bring prosperity to Ontarios north …
And help improve access to health care, goods and services, education, housing and economic opportunities for First Nation communities.
Our government has committed close to $1 billion to build critical legacy infrastructure, including all-season roads to the Ring of Fire. And just this month, we reached a historic milestone …
With Marten Falls First Nation and Webequie First Nation submitting terms of reference for the proposed northern road link all-season road project environmental assessment.
Mr. Speaker, we were encouraged when the federal government followed our lead with $3.8 billion for a new Critical Minerals Strategy …
And we continue to call on the federal government to join us in this once-in-a-generation opportunity. Speaker, its time to build the roads to the Ring of Fire. Lets get it done.
Just think, Mr. Speaker, when we open up the Ring of Fire, we can mine many of the critical minerals that electrical vehicles and batteries require, right here. We can produce the clean steel right here.
We can quickly train and deploy the labour force we need right here. We can assemble the hybrid and electric cars of the future right here.
We can do it all, right here in Ontario. For years, the missing piece was a government that was prepared to tie it all together with a real plan. Well, Mr. Speaker, Ontario now has that government, so lets get it done.
Next, lets talk about our plan to get it done when it comes to keeping costs down for Ontario families.
Mr. Speaker, as finance minister, I watch global economic trends, including inflation, closely.
While every party today is paying lip service to the rising cost of living, its important to check the track record. Over 15 long years in office, the previous Liberal government said no to giving families a break. This was most notable in the hydro debacle, where a parade of well-connected insiders got rich on feed-in tariff schemes while the price of electricity went up for Ontario families.
And, of course, then there were the tolls on the 412 and the 418 highways. And of course, Mr. Speaker, the fee increases for licence plate renewals and stickers.
Well, Mr. Speaker, weve taken a different approach. Were saying yes to helping Ontario families with the cost of living … Including when we struck the best child care deal of any province in Canada. And we are now taking the next step.
To help people across Ontario keep a few extra dollars in their pocket, right now, so they can continue to: pay the rent;
pay the bills;
pay for gas; and
pay for the groceries.
Regardless of the curveballs the global economy throws their way.
It starts by cutting out the nuisance costs and fees that every single day frustrate the people of Ontario.
Our government is getting rid of the licence plate stickers and renewal fees that have cost so many Ontario drivers so much time, so much money, so much hassle and so much frustration. Those stickers, theyre gone.
This, on its own, will save Ontario drivers $120 a year, per vehicle, in southern Ontario … And $60 a year, per vehicle, in the north.
Were not done there, Mr. Speaker …
We are also providing a refund of eligible fees paid since March 2020.
And were taking steps to protect the people of Ontario from skyrocketing gas prices …
By cutting the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre and the fuel tax by 5.3 cents per litre for six months beginning July 1, 2022.
Taken together these two measures will help save households, on average, $465 in 2022.
Mr. Speaker, the other parties would rather talk about inflation than give anything back. But we believe the best way to help the people with the cost of living is to put a few extra dollars back in their pockets.
Thats why, with our proposed enhancement to the LIFT tax credit, this government will provide 1.1 million lower-income workers with an additional $300, on average, in tax relief in 2022 …
Mr. Speaker, in a measure near and dear to my own constituents and to families throughout Durham region … We have also removed the road tolls on Highway 412 and 418 …
It was time to correct this Liberal mistake and give drivers in Durham an overdue break, and we got it done. One of the defining affordability challenges of our time is housing. Our province is growing, Mr. Speaker.
Every year, people from across Canada and around the world choose Ontario to build their careers and raise their families here in Ontario.
But every single year, they are putting pressure on our housing supply, and the dream of home ownership becomes further and further out of reach. 1620
Now, Mr. Speaker, where has the opposition been on the housing crisis? All they want to do is talk. Theyve never seen a regulation they didnt like. Theyve never seen a process they wouldnt like to slow down.
Well, not us. We are saying yes to new homesaccessible homes and affordable homes. Well let others talk about housing. Were going to build housing right here in Ontario.
In fact, as part of our plan, we will increase the housing supply by building 1.5 million new homes over the next 10 years.
Its time to put more housing options within the reach of the families who so badly need them. When we talk about building new homes for families, we say, lets get it done.
Mr. Speaker, next I want to talk about our plan to get it done when it comes to building highways and key infrastructure. Ontarios growth is not just putting pressure on housing.
Its also putting unprecedented pressure on our roads, highways, transit and other infrastructure.
Today, as I give this speech, tens of thousands of people are stuck on the 400-series highways because, for decades, the previous government was unable to get things done. The previous government and its transportation minister didnt even try. Its like they were allergic to concrete, Mr. Speaker.
They would spend a decade debating the route of a road or the route of a highway or allow the same old interest group vetoes to block things from getting done. Time after time, decisions were kicked down the road, appealed and re-appealed, reviewed and re-reviewed, debated and re-debated, or just buried under a growing mountain of red tape.
Today, they continue that legacy by criticizing any attempt to build, pandering to those who want to shut down any and all building in the province. Mr. Speaker, there are a million ways to say no, and I believe the Liberal Party has tried all of them. But theres only one way to say yes, and thats under Premier Fords leadership. Were getting it done. From day one, we have invested to correct Ontarios infrastructure deficit …
Starting with a historic investment of nearly $4 billion to connect every community to high-speed Internet by the year 2025. Now we are taking the next step.
By building the roads, building the highways and building the transit Ontario needs.
At the heart of our plan is a capital investment of $158 billion over the next 10 years, with planned investments of $20 billion in 2022 and 2023 alone. We need to be ambitious, Mr. Speaker.
Our planand only our planincludes trains, subways and highways.
Mr. Speaker, the opposition would rather pretend we dont live in a province where millions still drive a car to get to work. You cannot fight gridlock without building highways.
That is why we are investing more than $25 billion over the next 10 years for highway projects right across the province, including Highway 413.
Highway 413 will save drivers up to 35 minutes on their commute, while supporting up to 3,500 jobs per year. It might not matter to the opposition, but it matters to the people of Brampton. Mr. Speaker, its time to get Highway 413 built. Lets get it done. This commitment extends to the Bradford Bypass …
A new four-lane freeway connecting Highway 400 in Simcoe county and Highway 404 in York region …
An area of the province expected to experience rapid growth over the next 20 years.
The Bradford Bypass will take pressure off Highway 400 and existing east-west roads …
Finally giving drivers in the region relief from endless gridlock and saving them up to 30 minutes each trip.
That is why our government, Mr. Speaker, will get the Bradford Bypass built. Were getting it done. Our commitment to building more highways does not end there.
In the east, we are starting work to widen Highway 401 to relieve congestion starting at Brock Road in Pickering and through eastern Ontario, all the way to Brockville. Interjection.
Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy: And Belleville in between.
In Niagara region, we are restoring the QEW Garden City Skyway and connecting the city of St. Catharines to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. But theres more, Mr. Speaker:
In the southwest, we are building the new Highway 7 between Kitchener and Guelph …
In the north, we are improving Highway 101 through Timmins to support commuters and the local mining and forestry industries.
Mr. Speaker, building roads, bridges and highways will end gridlock and get drivers moving again.
Our government also recognizes the importance of reliable public transit for commuters and families.
Which is why, over the next 10 years, we will invest over $60 billion for public transit, to fuel a huge expansion in subways, to fuel expansion in GO rail and other vital infrastructure.
We are expanding GO Transit rail service from Oshawa into Bowmanville on the Lakeshore East corridor …
We are also expanding London GO rail service so commuters can travel from London all the way to Union Station.
And in the north … we are investing $75 million to help bring passenger rail service back to northeastern Ontario.
You know, Mr. Speaker, I often wonder if the previous government thought the province ended somewhere just north of Queens Park. They said no to train service in the north. Well, we are saying yes.
And in Toronto, we will finish the job on the Ontario Line. This opposition is filled with naysayers who opposed the building of this line, of doubters who said it couldnt or shouldnt be done. Well, Premier, when you broke ground on the Ontario Line, you proved them wrong. Mr. Speaker, this government will get the Ontario Line done.
And we continue to make progress on the largest subway expansion in Canadian history.
Including connecting the Eglinton Crosstown West extension to Toronto Pearson International Airport …
Building a direct line to one of the largest economic zones and employment zones in all of Ontario. And, Mr. Speaker, were also getting it done for the people of Scarborough … Last year, we broke ground on the Scarborough subway extension. Next, we will move forward on the Sheppard subway extension … Which will connect the Scarborough subway to the existing Don Mills terminus.
Mr. Speaker, make no mistake: This is what a government can accomplish when it chooses to say yes. This is what a province can build when a government is resolved to get it done. Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about how our plan is working for workers. Mr. Speaker, whether we are talking about housing or highways. Trains or transit.
One question remains.
In a time of rising demand, who is going to build all of this? The simple answer is: workers.
Skilled workers.
And we need more of them. But for too long, previous governments said no to giving workers a fair shake. They ignored the frustrations of working people who simply wanted a fair shot to compete for the job with smart and safe protections, and earn an acceptable salary while doing it.
Monsieur le Président, il est grand temps que les travailleurs aient un gouvernement qui travaille pour eux aussi fort queux travaillent pour lOntario.
Mr. Speaker, it is about time that workers had a government that works as hard for them as they do for Ontario. And that is what we are going to do.
To begin, we are putting more money into their pockets …
Raising the general minimum wage to $15.50 an hour on October 1, 2022.
We are also ensuring nobody falls through the cracks by extending the minimum wage to digital platform workers … Including workers who use ride-sharing apps.
We also introduced pay transparency, regular pay periods, and protected them from reprisal when they assert their rights … While maintaining the flexibility that attracts workers to these jobs. 1630
Our plan also says yes to recruiting more workers in the skilled trades. Mr. Speaker, by 2025, one in five jobs will be in the skilled trades. These are in-demand jobs, exciting jobs, hands-on jobs.
Secure jobs that pay well. Jobs that require creativity and problem-solving. Jobs that allow workers to punch their own ticket and help us build Ontario. They are also jobs that are the victims of an unfair stigma …
By some who view trade jobs as lesser jobs and trade workers as lesser workers … This corrosive belief is wrong.
And that is why our government is investing an additional $114 million over three years in our skilled trades strategy to break the stigma against the skilled trades.
Mr. Speaker, we have relaunched our successful Second Career program into Better Jobs Ontario … Expanding the program to include those with non-traditional work experience … Such as gig workers, newcomers and the self-employed …
So they have every opportunity to build the skills they need to succeed.
Mr. Speaker, a four-year university degree is not the only path to a successful career.
Ontarios network of colleges provides hands-on experience and real training for real jobs.
That is why we are expanding college degree-granting programs to build a pipeline of job-ready graduates in applied fields … Helping students get into the workforce faster.
We are making it easier for out-of-province workers and newcomers to work in Ontario.
With a 30-business-day service standard to speed up the process for recognizing their credentials …
Were also directing Skilled Trades Ontario to harmonize trading standards with other provinces for about a dozen trades.
For new Canadians, Ontario is the first province in Canada to remove licence barriers faced by new immigrants …
And we are investing $67 million over three years through the Ontario bridge training program so we can connect well-trained immigrants with in-demand jobs in their communities.
Mr. Speaker, our economy needs these skilled workers. And our workers need our support. Theres no time to delay. Its time to get it done.
And this brings me to the final chapter of our budget, Mr. Speakerour plan to stay open.
We have been tested by the pandemic, Mr. Speaker. And it is likely the tests are not yet done. We can pick one of two roads. Some, including some in this House, would choose the road of constantly advocating for closing Ontario. They are the loud voices calling for more restrictions, more mandates, more division and more fear. For every solution, they have a problem. For every shred of optimism, they have a doubt. For every attempt to move forward, they have an obstacle that would take Ontario back.
Mr. Speaker, the second road does not take anything for granted. Rather than meet the challenges with surrenderwe tackle them head on.
Our government has provided billions in targeted supports to help businesses throughout the pandemic.
And were investing an additional $300 million in our surgical recovery strategy. And now we are taking the next step by making record investments in hospital beds and long-term-care beds and in the nurses, doctors and support workers on the front lines of our health care system. Mr. Speaker, through our new 10-year, $40-billion hospital capital plan …
Our government is making investments in communities that have not seen a new hospital project in decades … In Brampton …
Where our government is transforming the William Osler Health Systems Peel Memorial hospital into a new in-patient hospital with a 24/7 emergency department … In Kitchener-Waterloo …
Where the Grand River Hospital and St. Marys General Hospital joint redevelopment project will lead to a new joint acute care facility.
And near and dear to my heart, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, Minister Elliott, in Uxbridge …
Where the Uxbridge hospital redevelopment project will create a community health hub with nearby long-term-care services. I think thats good. In Windsor …
Where we are in the planning stages for a new state-of-the-art acute care facility. And in Scarborough …
Where our government is investing to build a new in-patient tower and renovate the existing Birchmount Hospital site …
The first phase of which includes an expansion of the emergency department, expected to support 50,000 patients each year. From Collingwood, Kingston and Muskoka …
To Chatham-Kent, Thunder Bay and Ottawa …
To the single largest infrastructure investment in the history of Ontario to build a state-of-the-art Mississauga hospital … And to expand the Queensway Health Centre in Etobicoke …
Mr. Speaker, these investments represent the most ambitious plan for hospital expansion in Ontarios history …
Supporting more than 50 major hospital projects and adding 3,000 new beds over the next 10 years.
Mr. Speaker, we are also making investments for the long-term care sector. After inheriting a broken system from the Liberal governmentless than 700 net new beds were built by the previous government from 2011 to 2018. They left our entire long-term-care sector teetering on the brink. Zero new beds in Ajax; zero new beds in Pickering: Those are just two of the communities that were left behind. Ontario seniors deserve better. Ontario families deserve better. And our government is delivering.
We are saying yes to new beds and better bedsbeds that provide comfort and dignity to our seniors.
We now have over 31,000 new and over 28,000 upgraded beds in the development pipeline.
And, in February of this year, we completed the first long-term-care home built through our accelerated build pilot.
Lakeridge Gardens, built in partnership with Lakeridge Health, was completed in just 13 months …
And this new long-term-care facility will feature 320 long-term-care beds on the campus of the Ajax Pickering Hospital. We arent waiting, Mr. Speaker. No more excuses. We are getting it done.
Mr. Speaker, a bed at a long-term-care facility should not be the only option for seniors requiring care.
Our loved ones and their families deserve the opportunity to find the care thats right for them, including in the comfort of their own homes. Our seniors have done so much to build this province.
That is why our government is taking action to support them in their choice of where they wish to receive the care they need, to allow more seniors to stay in the homes they love and live there longer.
Our government is investing $1.5 billion over the next three years to expand home care. And we are proposing a new Ontario Seniors Care at Home Tax Credit … To help seniors and their families with home care medical expenses …
Including attendant care, assistive breathing devices, hearing aids and walking aids. This tax credit would build on our Seniors Home Safety Tax Credit …
Which helps cover the costs for stair lifts, handrails and other renovations to help make homes safe and accessible, so we can preserve our hospital and long-term-care beds for those who truly need them the most.
Our plan to stay open also takes immediate action to support the front lines of our health care system, who have done so much to keep us safe. We are providing Ontario nurses with a retention bonus of up to $5,000 …
And making the wage enhancement to more than 158,000 personal support workers permanent … 1640
And we have gone even further to support our front lines.
Since March 2020, our government has added 8,600 health care workers, and now we are investing an additional $230 million to deploy thousands of health care students in hospitals and help up to 1,000 internationally licensed nurses get accredited and into our health care system faster.
And, through our new learn and stay grant, 2,500 eligible post-secondary student who enrol in priority programs such as nursing will receive tuition support if they choose to work in the regions where they studied after graduation.
Mr. Speaker, building our capacity while making sure that every region in Ontario has access to quality health care is our plan, and we are getting it done.
And to ensure that our province never again has to rely on foreign jurisdictions for equipment, vaccines and other critical supplies …
Our government is supporting the production of Ontario-made personal protective equipment (PPE).
Today, over 92% of Ontarios PPE will come from Canada or Ontario, made in Canada by Canadian workers …
Including the production of N95 masks at the newly expanded facility in Brockville …
And, we are investing in our life sciences so that we can support the development and manufacturing of vaccines and other therapies … Right here in Ontario.
Mr. Speaker, I want to conclude by highlighting how our plan to get it done is a responsible one.
After years of a government that spent on the short term instead of building for the long term, Ontario now has a plan to invest … and invest responsibly.
Over the next three years, our plan will see spending increase by an average of over 5% per year …
With important investments in health care, education and critical infrastructure …
Supported by a credible recovery plan that will eliminate the provincial deficit two years earlier than projected in the 2021 budget. We have a plan. And that plan is working.
But the work is not over yet. And the job is not yet done.
It is time, Mr. Speaker, to finish the job.
And there is only one party in this House capable of the strong financial management necessary to make the investments that our province needs. That is this party. And this is the government led by Premier Ford.
We are the party of yes.
We are the party of opportunity.
We are the party of hard work and big dreams.
We are the party of better jobs and bigger paycheques.
We are the party that is looking to the future with confidence and optimism. Mr. Speaker, we have a real plan that is working.
Cest notre plan pour passer à laction.
And we are ready to get it done for the people of Ontario.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): Im going to ask the members to please take their seats. The member for Waterloo.
Ms. Catherine Fife: On behalf of Her Majestys loyal opposition, it is my pleasure to respond to budget 2022.
Speaker, this budget misses the mark on so many levels. It demonstrates in black and white how disconnected this government is from the people of Ontario, and I would say we now fully understand why this government is dropping this platform/budget and then running away from Queens Park.
After everything we have been through, everything that the people of Ontario have been through, today was an opportunity to lay out a real plan to fix health care, to fix seniors care, to fix the crisis in housing, to get rid of Premier Fords low-wage policy. People in this province have been begging for services. They have protested. They have marched. They have shown up here at Queens Park for years against this government. They want health care and education to be a priority for the government.
What are you going to say, on that side of the House, to a parent with a child who is on the autism spectrum when your budget doesnt even mention autism? What are you going to say to them? There are 50,000 children on a wait-list.
This government chose not to address the call to action on public services. Once again, this government made a choice to fail the people of this province. Instead, we see future cuts to the things people need most and billions of dollars heading to his buddies on unnecessary and wasteful boondoggles.
The cover of your budget features smogI leave you with that. As if the climate emergency was not real, there are highways to houses that no one can afford Interjections.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The government side will come to order. The member for Waterloo has the floor. Interjection.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Carleton will come to order. The member for Waterloo.
Ms. Catherine Fife: The cover of this budget/platform features highways to houses that no one can afford. What today has made clear is that this government is completely out of touch with everyday Ontarians. What today has made clear is that we need change and we need it now. Ontario cant wait another four years. People need and deserve hope in the province of Ontario, and they need support. They are begging the government for services, and you have given them smog and highways to houses that they cant afford.
Especially after suffering through a pandemic, when this government chose not to invest in keeping people safewhich then caused our economy to shut down and schools to close for an extended period of time. The province of Ontario had the longest closure of schools in this country because of decisions that this government made.
People need tangible ways to make life more affordable and improve their lives. They need help with prescription drug bills. They need to be able to get their kid to a dentist. They need to not worry about finding the money to pay for mental health supports. They need affordable rent and better schools for their kids.
Our public education system is not going to get stronger when you reduce in-year funding by $1.3 billion; it is just not possible. Our economy wont adapt to economic challenges with a $685-million reduction to post-secondary education. What progressive province in this country is reducing funding in post-secondary education? A cut of $632 million to social services is a slap in the face to the people who have paid the highest price during this pandemic.
Speaker, it is high time that Ontarians see themselves and their needs reflected in a government. It is long overdue. If we come together on June 2 and work together as Ontarians do and have done, we can get these things done. With that, Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment of debate.
The Speaker (Hon. Ted Arnott): The member for Waterloo has moved the adjournment of the debate. Is it the pleasure of the House that the motion carry? Carried. Debate adjourned.
The House adjourned at 1650.