For at least the last five years, the Ontario Government and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) have been operating the province’s workers compensation system with a clear cost-saving mandate.
In large part, this has been in line with a broader political focus on reducing expenditures, eliminating deficits, reducing the WSIB’s unfunded liability, and other so-called ‘austerity’ measures.
However, the new federal government’s first budget – released on March 22 – changes the tune on some of these old refrains.
As the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives pointed out in their recent opinion-editorial in the Toronto Star:
After decades of tax cuts worth billions in lost revenue and deficit-aversion politics dominating the political agenda, this budget sets a different tone.”
The 2106 federal budget has, in some important ways, prioritized investments in people who are struggling, suggesting that these things will help the economy more than the repeated cuts to services that we have seen from federal and provincial governments alike.
The CCPA’s editorial is careful to point out that it is “far from a perfect budget,” reminding us that there is still plenty to fight for, but it’s been a long time since the political conversation in Canada has been focussed on anything besides the need for cuts.
Maybe it is time for the provincial government and the WSIB to follow suit and put the well-being of Ontario’s workers ahead of a blind commitment to balancing the provincial books.