Submission to Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
January 28, 2008
Summary of Recommendations
A Continued Need to Reinvest in Infrastructure and Public Services
- Meet the commitments in the throne speech to rebuild Ontario’s public services and infrastructure while offsetting some of the impact of a possible economic downturn on Ontarians.
- Do not place undue emphasis on the short-run impact of any economic downturn on government finances.
- Quickly implement a meaningful, inclusive consultation process on poverty reduction with a wide range of stakeholders including those with low income, the most seriously disadvantaged groups, community leaders and policy experts, about what kind of targets, accountability measures, and policies will make a difference for Ontario.
- Set the bold and achievable targets for poverty reduction of 25 percent in five years, and 50 percent in 10 years.
- Set specific and targeted accountability measures to assess progress.
- Make a substantial down payment on a poverty reduction strategy through significant increases in Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Child Benefit rates in 2008 to make progress on having these reflect actual costs of living in health and dignity in Ontario. When rates have risen to meet decent living standards, they should be indexed to the cost of living to keep them from falling behind.
- Promote good jobs at living wages by: immediately increasing the minimum wage to $10.25; improving the Employment Standards Act to cover precarious employment and improve enforcement of standards; and urging the federal government to improve access to employment insurance.
- Increase access to housing through a major and credible increase in expenditure on affordable housing.
- Move speedily to ban the use, sale and retail display of cosmetic pesticides in Ontario in 2008, and ensure both strong public education and enforcement mechanisms.
- Quickly implement the promised expansion of rapid transit, while reviewing proposed or future expansions of highways.
- Implement funding for renewable energy and conservation.
- Accelerate the termination of all coal burning at Ontario's power plants to 2009.
- Cancel plans for the construction of new nuclear plants in Ontario.
- Commit to phasing in a carbon tax and other environmental taxes.
Protecting Medicare and Not-For-Profit Delivery of Health Care
- Announce an immediate and indefinite province-wide moratorium on competitive bidding in the home care sector.
- Ensure that LHINs do not use competitive bidding processes as a method of allocating funding.
- Establish an immediate and indefinite moratorium on Infrastructure Ontario’s AFP projects in the hospital sector. Do not approve or announce any additional AFP projects for which contracts have not been signed.
- For projects where contracts have already been signed, deepen the commitment to full transparency by providing total disclosure of all financial aspects of these agreements.
- For projects where AFP contracts have not been signed, the financing method should be shifted to a traditional (non-AFP) method of financing.
Increasing Access to Primary Health Care
- Implement the campaign and Throne Speech commitment of funding 25 additional nurse practitioner (NP)-led clinics by funding 13 of these clinics in 2008.
- Implement funding for 150 new NP Primary Health Care positions in 2008 across community health centres, NP-led clinics, family health teams, emergency departments, other outpatient settings, and Nursing Homes.
- Dedicate funding to enhance the management of chronic disease in Ontario.
- Dedicate funding to increase the employment and remuneration of RNs in primary care family practices.
Strengthening the Nursing Workforce for the Public
- Implement the campaign and Throne Speech commitments to nursing with immediate earmarked funding to:
- Increase Ontario’s nursing workforce by 9,000 FTE’s by 2010, with 3,000 FTEs (2,250 RNs and 750 RPNs) funded in 2008.
- Meet our goal to have 70 percent of nurses working full-time by 2010. Secure a 2.5 percentage point progress in 2008, bringing the share of RNs working FT from 63% percent to 65.5 percent).
- Guarantee jobs for new nursing grads, and work with employers to ensure full-time employment for these new grads after the six months of government funding ends. Secure a 10 percentage point progress in full-time employment for new Ontario RNs in 2008.
- Invest in healthy work environments for nurses. Mandate a zero tolerance approach to violence against nurses in the workplace, and work with employers to immediately implement effective policies.
- Expand the government’s commitments to the following:
- Equalize remuneration and working conditions for RNs working in the acute care, primary care/family practice, home care and long-term care sectors.
- Maintain fiscal capacity by not cutting taxes.