Mar 24, 2021
By Christine Ross
Ontario is spending billions to fight the pandemic, help small businesses and support families. The $186 billion budget shows a $33.1 billion deficit, which the government says will take until 2029 to eliminate.
Long term care is getting $650 million for pandemic-specific relief.
These funds will go towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, increasing staffing and buying personal protective equipment.The budget also puts a price tag on the government’s previously announced promise to have nursing home residents receive an average of four hours of direct care every day.
“Ontario is investing $4.9 billion dollars over four year to increase the average direct care to four hours a day,” announced Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy.
The long term care funding will be used to hire 27,000 personal support workers.
CARP’s interim chief policy officer Bill VanGorder says he was hoping for more funding now.
“This is the time when we have the emergency when the money is needed so what we need now are immediate plans to follow through and spend money that’s necessary to make the improvements needed now, not four years from now.”
VanGorder also is disappointed there’s no caregiver allowance or recognition that seniors have caregiving needs also.
The Ford government is spending $1 billion for the vaccine effort, and $2.3 billion for testing and contact tracing this year.
The government says it will offer a second round of grants to small businesses to assist with pandemic expenses and create a new job training tax credit.
It will also offer a third round of payments to families with children through the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit, doubling it to $400 per child and $500 for each child with special needs.
The budget also contains an additional $1.8 billion for hospitals and $650 million more for long-term care this year to address demands placed on both sectors by the pandemic.
N-D-P Leader Andrea Horwath says budget plan fails to make the urgent investments people need to get through the pandemic. She points to a lack of funding for paid sick days, paid time off to get vaccinated or plans to hire more education workers.