Don't balance Ontario's budget on the backs of vulnerable kids
Premier Doug Ford’s election promise to cut $6 billion from Ontario’s budget without cutting any jobs or hurting “real folks” was always dubious. Only “insiders” and “fat cats” needed to worry, he claimed.
Over the past months the cuts his government has imposed are, in fact, hitting the “little guys” — and, appallingly, their children — the hardest.
First he cut a planned welfare increase in half. He ended a guaranteed annual income pilot program halfway through its mandate. Then he ditched a planned $1-an-hour increase in the minimum wage.
Now his government is putting the province’s most vulnerable children in danger by putting budgetary pressures on children’s aid societies by changing up their funding formulas. So far that’s resulted in 26 child protection workers being laid off in the Brantford area.
It should go without saying that Ford’s hunt for “efficiencies” to balance the budget should not be conducted on the backs of vulnerable kids. The government must reverse course to avert a tragedy.
After all, as the executive director of Brant Family and Children’s Services, Andrew Koster, points out: “When governments cut child welfare services (managers, front line staff, and support services), children ultimately die or are allowed by society to live in unbearable, violent and neglectful conditions.”
It’s not the Ford government’s first attack on much-needed resources for children.
Last November, the government did away with the office of the children’s advocate. That means that as of April 1 there will be no independent authority to protect children in care, as well as Indigenous children and youth asking for help and kids who are living with disabilities, receiving health services or caught up in the youth justice system.
The Ford government must change direction. No one would want any child to die, or to suffer, in the search for so-called “efficiencies.”