Catherine Fife MPP, Waterloo

Government of Ontario

Ford government can afford to do more to fight COVID-19

Published on February 10, 2021
Fiscal update also shows Ford underspending on social services by $427 million
WATERLOO — The Doug Ford government has enough funds to implement paid sick days, add staff in long-term care, and beef up testing and contact tracing to stop the spread of COVID-19, but it’s choosing not to be transparent about its plans for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“There are opportunities for the government to make real impacts on peoples’ health and well-being by spending contingency funds strategically,” said Catherine Fife, Finance critic for the Official Opposition NDP. “We know there is enough money available to give Ontarians paid sick days – which would prevent outbreaks and save lives. Funding could also be used to ramp up contact tracing, testing, and the vaccine rollout.
“The Ford government needs to be more transparent about where it’s spending the money and how those investments are directly supporting Ontarians.”
The report also shows that Ford has left another $427 million from social services unallocated. Fife said that is especially troubling.
“People need a social safety net now more than ever before,” said Fife. “Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy refused to describe the impact of this underspending today — and that’s got people seriously worried. It could mean more devastation for people and families already having a hard time during the pandemic.
“This government was cutting social services, education and public health before the pandemic. Continuing to not prioritize peoples’ health sets the province up for repeating the cycle of reopening too soon before a spike in tragic sickness and frustrating lockdowns.”
The NDP has laid out a number of productive proposals that could help people get through the pandemic, and give people hope that this lockdown will be the last, including:
  • Paid sick days
  • In-classroom and in-workplace COIVD-19 testing
  • A Save Main Street plan to provide help to small businesses for things like rent, remote work costs, and safer re-opening costs
  • A travel ban between hot-zones and low-transmission regions