The federal government is covering a staggering 97 per cent of all COVID-19 support measures affecting Ontarians, while the province is only paying for about three per cent themselves.
That’s according to Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office (FAO), who say Ottawa has provided more than $102-billion through 61 federal measures.
In comparison, the provincial government has only provided $10.8-billion, most of which ($7.2-billion) was actually paid by the feds, through so-called cash transfer payments.
The lion’s share of the federal cash came from just two programs.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) made a combined $72-billion available to Ontarians.
Out of the top ten costliest support measures since the pandemic started, the FAO says the provincial government was only involved in three, which were all cost-sharing agreements with the federal government.
Those three measures were: the temporary ‘pandemic pay’ program, the Safe Restart program for public transit operators and the Safe Restart program for local, municipal governments.
The province spent the largest single amount, around $2-billion, on public transit, while $778-million went to schools and $235-million was put into the child care sector.
The FAO report also showed that, out of two established funds to support pandemic response, the COVID-19 Health Sector Response Fund and Support for People and Jobs Fund, the majority has not been used.
At the time of the report’s writing, the FAO found that the province has allocated $4.5-billion from the two funds, while leaving $6.7-billion unused.
The Canadian Union of Public Service Employees (CUPE) slammed the government following the report’s release, saying they “fall far short when it comes to financially supporting people and public services.”
“Doug Ford keeps telling Ontarians that he’s willing to do anything to support our communities and keep us safe,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “But this report is exposing that spin. Providing a mere three per cent of our already-inadequate support measures, and sitting on billions upon billions of dollars that should be supporting the public services and front-line workers we rely on, is unacceptable.”
CUPE is calling on the province to release the unused funds immediately.