Yesterday, Finance Minister Rod Phillips outlined Ontario’s roadmap for pandemic recovery in the much anticipated 2020 Provincial budget. Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover is based on a record $38.5 billion deficit and provides $15 billion in new support.
Although the budget outlines initiatives to protect, support, and help our province to recover from the pandemic, much can be said about who benefits from this budget and who is left behind.
Health care and small businesses have, understandably, received attention in this year’s budget. However, the 2020 Ontario Budget shortchanges local communities and the organizations that serve them. An effective and far-reaching pandemic recovery requires significant investment in both.
Every person across Ontario has experienced the challenges and ramifications from COVID-19. However, low-income residents and seniors, women, and Black, Indigenous, and racialized communities disproportionately carry the burden. More must be done by our provincial government to put money into the pockets of these people. Where the Government of Ontario does provide money, for example through the additional $200 per child to help with educational expenses, it takes a blanket approach. The Province fails to target financial support to those who need it the most.
At the same time, the pandemic has left many nonprofits doing more with less, having to respond to increased community demand for services while facing COVID-19 challenges and decreased funding. Our province’s nonprofit sector contributes a great deal to our communities’ economic and social wellbeing. In Toronto alone, more than 105,000 people work in the nonprofit sector, generating 8% of our city’s GDP.
The Provincial Government fell noticeably short when it came to supporting Ontario’s nonprofit sector. Approximately $60 million is allocated for arts, cultural, sport, and francophone nonprofits in 2020 – a drop in the bucket compared to the $680 million the Ontario Nonprofit Network said is needed for a sector stabilization fund.
COVID-19 recovery presents an opportunity for the Ontario Government to build a better, more fair society. This means prioritizing communities and nonprofits, which together make the backbone of our great province. We call on the Government of Ontario to raise the floor for those who are struggling the most and to better support the nonprofit organizations that serve them.