YWCA Toronto Statement on the 2019 Ontario Budget
April 12, 2019
The 2019 provincial budget released yesterday contains some positive news, as well as some disappointing setbacks.
We are pleased to see a formal confirmation of improved supports to rural and remote communities for women escaping violence and an acknowledgement of the government’s intent to move forward with cost-sharing critical housing initiatives including the Ontario-Canada bilateral agreement under the National Housing Strategy. The introduction of a free dental-care program for low-income seniors is also welcome news that will improve oral health outcomes for some of our province’s most vulnerable members.
However, the omissions, cutbacks, and lack of details in the budget are troubling.
There are very few mentions of women in the budget, no mention of gender, and no mention of programs or funding that specifically target women and girls. No new money has been allotted to programs that help women stay safe or secure economic prosperity. In particular, we find it concerning that there is no gender or equity lens applied to any of the new funding measures, tax credits, or funding cuts so the differential impact of these initiatives cannot be measured.
While Budget 2019 does commit to a new housing strategy and action plan, it lacks a commitment to gender responsive housing options and programs. It also provides few details as to what kind of funding is tied to these initiatives and whether deeply affordable, permanent housing will be prioritized. Without a gender lens, we are concerned that housing for women and their children fleeing situations of domestic violence and the complex needs of senior women, as well as women living with disabilities and addictions, will be overlooked.
In terms of child care, the CARE tax credit for parents does not go far enough in creating a sustainable, affordable universal child care system in our province. Despite the tax credit, too many parents will be left without access to childcare – creating compounding barriers for women’s labour market entry and participation.
It is also concerning to us that more than a billion dollars is being cut from several Ministries, with very little specifics as to where the impacts of these cuts will be felt and who will be most affected. Fiscal restraint should not come at the expense of already marginalized communities.
In short, despite some gains, we are concerned about the provincial budget and the future it holds. We will continue working collaboratively with government and community stakeholders to advocate for the interests of women and girls and ensure the needs of the communities we work with are considered in all budgetary decisions.