September 16th, 2020

Ford excluding schools, workers and seniors from federal COVID-19 funding a slap in the face: NDP

QUEEN'S PARK — Despite being given $7 billion by the federal government, Doug Ford has filed a plan with the federal government that doesn’t lower class sizes or make schools safer, doesn’t give workers paid sick days, and doesn’t hire long-term care staff like PSWs, or raise their wages – despite the fact that COVID-19 has found its way back into a growing number of vulnerable, understaffed nursing homes.

"Ford is receiving billions of dollars from the federal government, yet he is choosing not to use a dime of that to make Ontario schools safer by investing in the measures parents, teachers and health experts have spent months begging for — smaller, safer classes, capping the number of students allowed on buses and hiring thousands more teachers," said NDP Education critic Marit Stiles (Davenport).

Ford's letter indicates that his government will not guarantee paid sick days to workers in Ontario. In 2018, Doug Ford cut the inadequate two paid sick days Ontario workers fought to get under the previous government, and now his letter seems to say it’s up to the federal government to help workers stay home when sick, because he won’t.

"All workers in Ontario, desperately need paid sick days so that they can stay home when they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses, and avoid spreading the virus," NDP Labour critic Jamie West (Sudbury) said. "And every mom and dad needs paid sick and personal emergency leave days to stay home with their kids if a little one is showing any symptoms or has been exposed to the virus.

“Paid sick days have always been crucial to the health and well-being of all Ontarians, and now they’re a critical part of stopping the spread.”

NDP Long-Term Care critic Teresa Armstrong (London—Fanshawe) said Ford’s choice to not use the money to hire thousands of PSWs to prepare understaffed nursing homes for a second wave is a decision to allow ongoing neglect and despair in nursing homes.

"Since the start of the pandemic, Ford has demonstrated his desire to protect the bottom line of for-profit long-term care operators over the health, safety and lives of vulnerable residents of long-term care," said Armstrong.

"How many more seniors need to get sick or die in horrible conditions in long-term care before Ford stops cutting and starts investing in long-term care? Health experts, seniors' advocates and families have been crystal clear that increasing PSWs is critical to keeping seniors and staff safe."