October 1st, 2021

Horwath says throne speech must commit to rebuilding health care, education, small business

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wants the Doug Ford government’s throne speech to commit to health care and education investments, and focus on small businesses.

“COVID-19 is still among us. And our health care heroes are burnt out and hospitals and long-term care homes are understaffed worse than ever. Surgeries are backlogged and the waits are long and painful. Our kids’ classrooms are packed, case counts are piling up in schools, and there aren’t enough staff to give kids one-on-one attention when they need it. Small businesses are trying to rebuild, taking on extra responsibility without extra resources,” said Horwath.

“We can help people make it to the other side, make the months ahead easier and safer, and start rebuilding our critical services. But we need Doug Ford to stop listening to his buddies, and start listening to regular families and working folks.”

Horwath said the commitments she’s calling for in Monday’s Speech include:

  1. A plan to hire thousands of nurses and personal support workers
  2. A safe schools plan including smaller class sizes and hiring more teachers and education workers
  3. Mandatory vaccines for health and education workers
  4. A round of grants to help local businesses get back on their feet
  5. Safety zones and proper enforcement of vaccine certificates

Ford’s current budget cuts $800 million from education, cuts public health units to 10 from 35 and continues funding cuts in long-term care. Over the last year, Ford withheld $5.6 billion earmarked for fighting COVID-19.

“He could have made our kids’ classes smaller, and put more safety measures in place in child care centres. He could have hired more nurses and long-term care staff and given them better wages. And he could have invested to keep small businesses afloat. But he didn’t want to spend the money on you — and our health care system, our kids’ schools and our small business community have been brought to their knees. We need to change course to get back on track,” said Horwath.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s invest in health care and our kids instead of cutting deeper. Let’s stand up for local business – not big box stores. And let’s protect workers instead of Ford’s buddies.”