The Ontario government released its 2020 budget. For the Society and its members there was very little in the way of new announcements as much of what is in the budget document had been previously released.
It is important to note, however, that the devil is in the details. We saw this previously when the government slashed Legal Aid Ontario’s funding. This cut was not mentioned in the budget document but, rather, was included in the enabling legislation. So, as the actual budget bill comes forward, we will be watching closely.
Here is a quick breakdown of what Society members ought to know from Thursday’s budget.
Although not a new announcement, the budget did a welcome restatement of the government’s belief in the importance of the nuclear sector in the delivery of low cost, emissions-free power and discussed the work that the government is doing to bring Small Modular Reactor technology to Ontario. SMR development is an area that the Society is watching very closely.
The budget included the previously-announced $295 million for retooling the Ford plant to make electric vehicles. The Society believes that the electrification of Ontario vehicles is an excellent way to reduce the province’s carbon footprint and that an electrification strategy ought to go hand-in-glove with the work that Society members do in our nuclear facilities.
The government announced that it will subsidize a reduction in commercial and industrial energy rates by moving costs to the tax base. Ultimately, this means that working people are subsidizing those energy rates for large companies and corporations.
The budget also announced their intent to electrify Ontario campgrounds. There were few details, but work of this type may eventually involve Society members.
Labour and collective bargaining:
The budget contained some concerning language around collective bargaining. The document boasts about saving $21 million in public sector compensation – which actually means that this money has been taken out of the pockets of public sector workers through their wages or benefits.
It further includes a commitment to involve itself even more in collective bargaining ("…the government will continue to explore expanding its oversight over collective bargaining to other key areas of the broader public sector."). The government’s current involvement in collective bargaining has not been helpful for the Society’s collective bargaining process and we will be following this closely.
Regrettably, the budget makes no mention of Legal Aid and does not include any movement towards the reversal of the brutal cuts that the government brought forward in their previous budget.