Here come the cuts
By Chad Ingram
With Doug Ford’s PC government tabling its first budget earlier this month, we are starting to learn what some of the service cuts Ontarians will see over the next few years will look like.
That there will be a number of cuts of course comes as no surprise; it is in fact what a number of Ontarians voted for in last spring’s election, to bring down provincial spending. Bringing down that spending will entail service reductions, and it will entail job losses. Ford said during campaigning and subsequently that no one employed through the provincial government would lose their jobs. That is, of course, not true. Many people will lose their jobs. Wages and benefits make up the bulk of government spending at any level, and so achieving significant cost reductions is virtually impossible without reducing jobs.
We know that an increase in average class size will result in the elimination of thousands of teaching positions throughout the province. We know that at least a number of bureaucratic-type positions will be eliminated within the healthcare system as the government replaces the Local Health Integration Networks with one, so-called super agency. There will be a number of other, less obvious job eliminations as well. A funding reduction to the Southern Ontario Library Service means that 24 drivers for the service’s inter-library lending program will lose their jobs. It also means that the inter-library lending program has ceased.
Most of us will feel the impact of provincial cuts somewhere along the line, whether it’s the discontinuation of services that we’ve used, or more money coming out of our own wallets. Changes to OHIP Plus, for example, will mean more money coming from the pockets of many families for medical expenses. While under the previous government, OHIP Plus meant drug coverage was taken care of for anyone under the age of 25, a change that became effective at the beginning of April means that any families with private insurance plans are no longer covered by the provincial program. Depending on what kind of deductible those plans include, and depending on what kind of health conditions members of a family have, it could mean paying hundreds or thousands of extra dollars per year.
In a stroke of poor timing, as many communities across the province flood with the spring thaw, we have also learned that the provincial government is reducing flood management funding to conservation authorities by half.
And so on and so forth. Most Ontarians will feel the impact of provincial cuts in one way or another. But those cuts are exactly what many Ontarians voted for.