Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour

April 15, 2013 09:00 ET

OFL Releases People's Budget Plan for Ontario: Affordable Measures to Alleviate Poverty, New Infrastructure Investment, and Tax Fairness

More than 135 groups participated in nine-community public consultation

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 15, 2013) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) released a white paper today, A People's Budget - Towards a Fair Ontario, which proposes recommendations that will create good jobs, alleviate poverty, support workers and their families, give young people a fair chance, and promote tax fairness. These recommendations are based on extensive feedback from citizens and groups and builds on a discussion paper the OFL released in February of this year calling for a change in the conversation on austerity.

"Over the course of our consultation, we heard stories of hard-working Ontarians falling behind, young people losing their optimism, and families struggling to make sense of the unfairness of income inequality," said Sid Ryan, President of the OFL. "Yet we also heard inspiring stories of perseverance and thoughtful ideas for the future. The People's Budget offers a positive path forward, away from austerity and towards a fair society based on equity and shared prosperity."

The People's Budget campaign held public consultations with citizens and organizations in nine communities: Windsor, London, Hamilton-Niagara, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brampton-Mississauga, Toronto, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, and Ottawa. The campaign also encouraged feedback through our website, email, and social media. In total, we received submissions from more than 135 Ontarians, including educators, small business people, students, and seniors. From this consultation, three key themes emerged:

  1. Austerity is failing the people of this province, particularly our most vulnerable citizens.
  2. Ontarians want to live in a fair society.
  3. Government can do a better job of supporting Ontarians to realize their full potential.

"Government budgets must serve all citizens," said Simon Black, Researcher at The City Institute at York University and one of the panelists at the Brampton-Mississauga community consultation. "The People's Budget provides the voice of people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to influence public policy."

Among the 28 specific recommendations contained in the People's Budget that touch on issues ranging from education, housing, the environment, health care, agriculture, and newcomer settlement, are three priority proposals:

  1. Increase the minimum wage and put in place a formula for determining regular future increases.
  2. Establish an infrastructure fund to be used for the expansion of public transit, rebuilding aging infrastructure, and green infrastructure initiatives.
  3. Implement a fair taxation package that will include a range of tools to generate revenue.

These priority recommendations reflect the sentiments and ideas expressed most often throughout the consultation process. Ontarians understand that when people are paid a fair wage, the economy is stronger and fewer people have to rely on government programs, such as social assistance. Ontarians also know that strategic investments in green infrastructure, in transportation and housing, and in health and education pay multiple dividends fiscally, economically and socially. Finally, Ontarians are committed to a fair society where those who benefit most pay their fair share, those that pollute most pay for the remediation, and those in greatest need are given the help they need.

"Now is the time to embrace the potential of Ontarians," said Mr. Ryan. "Ontario was once a gold standard that other provinces and countries looked to as an example. For many in Ontario today, those memories are too remote from the reality of their current situation. If we choose the right path forward and work together to build a fair Ontario, we can be that kind of society once again."

The full report can be read at www.thepeoplesbudget.ca.

About the Ontario Federation of Labour

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour and follow OFL President Sid Ryan at @SidRyan_OFL

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