|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Government Budgeting Public health Social change|
The announcement of the plan by the provincial government of Ontario to cut funds to municipalities has been opposed vehemently by residents. According to a study conducted by Environics Research, 70% of the residents strongly oppose the plan (CBC News, 2019). According to the budget, annual funding would be reduced by $200 million (CBC News, 2019). The cuts would adversely affect different public health programs such as immunization programs, communicable disease surveillance, water quality initiatives, student breakfast programs, among others. However, the government questioned the credibility of the polls since it had been paid for by the Canadian Unions of Public Employees, a union that is openly biased against the government (CBC News, 2019). While these changes would affect all the residents of Ontario in one way or the other, I argue that the low-middle class would be dealt the biggest blow. For the unionized parents, the protection offered by the unions would help them weather the storm better. In light of this, this paper will discuss the effects of provincial cuts of Ontario to the low-middle class versus the parents who work for unions.
The Extent of the Proposed Cuts
The proposed cuts target various sectors in the province and hence are going to affect thousands of people. The cuts are bound to slash the municipal child care funding by more than $80 million, a move that would jeopardize more than 6,000 child care spaces in Toronto alone (CBC News, 2019). The cuts would also see the tourism funding slashed by $17.5 million (James, 2019). Science organizations have also not been spared. For instance, the provincial government has informed the Gairdner Foundation that the annual grant of $275,000 will not be renewed. The move will lead to the discontinuation of research, loss of jobs, and exit of businesses from the province (Payne, 2019). The funding for library services for the 2019-2020 fiscal year has also been slashed in the budget.
On its part, the provincial government has held that the cuts are meant to enhance the efficiency of spending and hence the municipalities should come up with ways to ensure that service delivery is unaffected. The municipalities have complained that they cannot find ways to make up for the cuts, which largely target the Children's Services and Public Health (Moore & Gray, 2019). In this tussle between the provincial government and the municipalities, the citizens are bound to suffer.
Effects on Low-Middle Class versus Parents Working for Unions
The move by Ford's government has been termed as a war on the most vulnerable residents of the province (Winfield, 2019). Accessible child care is essential for working parents in Ontario, as well as in the rest of the country. Accessible and affordable child care helps the parent get back to the workforce and contribute to the economy. However, as mentioned earlier, the more than $80 million cuts will affect the more than 6000 child-care subsidies given to families. This will make it difficult for parents to work away from home. More new parents will be forced to stay at home and take care of the children. The employers of the parents who majorly depend on child-care services will also be affected. This will increase the dependence on social assistance and ultimately cause further strain in the labor market.
The Low-Middle Class
In contrast to the rest of the country, the poverty numbers in Ontario have been growing in recent years. Between 2002 and 2016, the people in the low-income class in Ontario rose by 26%. The proportion of people under 18 years living in low-income rose from 13.3% to 16.2% in the same period (Lau, 2018). Bad policy is largely to blame for these statistics. Low-income families largely depend on child-care subsidies. Therefore, by reducing the funding of children's services, the provincial government will be hurting these families directly. Research has shown that almost 30% of children across Ontario are vulnerable. Most of them come from low-middle income families. The cuts will also deny the parents from struggling parents the opportunity for more hours and consistently. Other than the effect that this will cause on the Gross National Product (GDP), it will also increase the inequality gap. Therefore, the proposed change will only weaken a system that is already struggling to support the children and families in the low and middle-income class (White, Dhuey, Perlman, & Varmuza, 2019). Therefore, it is clear that provincial cuts do not address poverty. Instead, they seem to aggravate the situation.
A 2014 study by CUPE revealed that 21.5% of all childcare staff in Canada were members of unions (CUPE, 2014). Moreover, the study established that unionized parents are more likely to work in organizations that operate children centers. Unionized centers are also more likely to offer extended insurance covers as well as other maternity and parental benefits. The better wages, as well as better working conditions offered by unionization centers, also affects the quality of child care that the parents give to the children. The unions also have a critical role to play in fighting for employers in light of the provincial cuts. Therefore, it is clear that the parents who work for the unions are going to have it easier than the parents from low-income families. The better wages and working conditions, as well as the protection provided by the unions, are bound to make them weather the storm better.
So unpopular were the financial cuts among the residents that Ford had to reverse some of the funding cuts. Speaking on the 27th of May, the premier announced that the cuts on child care and public health had been reversed. However, according to the announcement, future cuts will go on as planned. Unfortunately, the move did not completely appease the residents of the province, and Ford's popularity rating is at an all-time low of -53.5% (Chatelaine, 2019). The Premier has also voiced the need for dialogue and collaboration with the municipalities to address the challenge, which he claims can be attributed to the deficits left by the previous government.
It is clear that the financial cuts by the Ontario provincial government to the municipalities will have far-reaching effects on its people. The cuts affect various sectors of the economy, and hence, its effects are spread out across the entire population. Though opposed by the majority of the residents, the low-income families will be worst hit by the cuts. Reduction of child-care subsidies will reduce the opportunities available for the people in this group in the workplace. This will also increase the inequality gap between the rich and the poor. On the other hand, parents working for the unions are bound to be cushioned from most of the effects of the cuts. Moreover, the better working conditions and wages provided will work in their favor. This notwithstanding, the cuts affect the entire population. In light of this, the government has reversed the cuts in public health and children's services. However, it is clear that parents in the low-middle class are bound to suffer more than unionized parents.
CBC News. (2019, May 21). Majority of Ontarians oppose province's cuts to public health, new poll suggests. Retrieved from CBC News: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/poll-ontarians-oppose-provincial-public-health-cuts-1.5142867
Chatelaine. (2019, May 27). Doug Ford Backpedals On Millions In Funding Cuts To Ontario Municipalities (For Now). Retrieved from Chatelaine: https://www.chatelaine.com/living/politics/doug-ford-cuts/
CUPE. (2014, November 19). Fact sheet: Unions make the difference for child care staff. Retrieved from CUPE: https://cupe.ca/fact-sheet-unions-make-difference-child-care-staff
James, A. (2019, May 7). Ontario cuts tourism funding, eliminates money to Toronto and Ottawa. Retrieved from CTV Nerws: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/ontario-cuts-tourism-funding-eliminates-money-to-toronto-and-ottawa-1.4412361
Lau, M. (2018, April 26). Ontario's poverty numbers are growing again - the opposite of the rest of Canada. Retrieved from Financial Post: https://business.financialpost.com/opinion/ontarios-poverty-numbers-are-growing-again-the-opposite-of-the-rest-of-canada
Moore, O., & Gray, J. (2019, May 9). City manager warns impact of provincial cuts will cost Toronto nearly $180-million in 2019. Retrieved from The Globe and Mail: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-city-manager-warns-impact-of-provincial-cuts-will-cost-toronto-nearly/
Payne, E. (2019, May 17). Provincial cuts a 'body slam against science' in Canada. Retrieved from Ottawa Citizen: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/provincial-cuts-a-body-slam-against-science-in-canada
White, L. A., Dhuey, E., Perlman, M., & Varmuza, P. (2019, May 16). Ontario's child-care cuts will hurt low-income parents working or studying full time. Retrieved from The Coversation: https://theconversation.com/ontarios-child-care-cuts-will-hurt-low-income-parents-working-or-studying-full-time-116723
Winfield, M. (2019, June 2). A year of Doug Ford: Retreating on cuts or just taking a break? Retrieved from The Conversation: https://theconversation.com/a-year-of-doug-ford-retreating-on-cuts-or-just-taking-a-break-117341
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