QUEEN’S PARK — Mike Schreiner released the following statement calling on the government to prioritize climate action, affordable housing and essential public services in the upcoming provincial budget, to be tabled March 23.
“Since the Premier was elected in 2018, quality of life in Ontario has gotten worse.
Everywhere you look, there’s a crisis to be found: housing affordability, healthcare, mental health, climate change. The list goes on.
Essential public services are starved of funding and resources.
Ontario’s nurses are grossly underpaid, with the lowest wages in Canada.
Emergency room wait times are the highest they’ve been in 15 years.
A handful of wealthy land speculators have been allowed to dictate the government’s housing plan while the housing affordability crisis worsens every day.
And, despite the troubling rise in climate-related extreme weather, the government has no credible plan to tackle the climate emergency.
The Premier’s refusal to invest in the people of Ontario isn’t just a moral issue – it’s bad fiscal policy.
The cost of inaction on these issues is well-documented.
Poverty costs us $33 billion every year. Climate-fueled extreme weather is going to cost our public infrastructure $26.2 billion this decade alone.
And instead of providing the leadership we desperately need, the Premier’s government is busy investing in super-sprawl highways, expensive fossil gas plants, and electricity subsidies that mostly benefit wealthy households.
With the annual budget just days away, I am calling for responsible investments in five key areas:
- Address affordability and economic concerns by taking action on the climate crisis. We can create hundreds of thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and businesses; help people save money by saving energy; expand low-cost renewables instead of high-cost gas plants; and make EVs and transit affordable to reduce commuting costs.
- Invest in affordable housing where people, especially young people, want to live – in affordable, connected neighbourhoods close to jobs, family, shops and transit – instead of expensive sprawl.
- End legislative poverty by doubling ODSP and OW rates to ensure no one is forced to choose between paying rent or buying groceries
- Repair and strengthen our public healthcare system by dropping the appeal of Bill 124, hiring 33,000 nurses, increasing wages for PSWs, and immediately halting the funding of private, for-profit surgical clinics.
- Fund community-based mental health so that everyone can receive the care they need in community and in school from a system that’s affordable, accessible, comprehensive, and easy to navigate.”