Ontario youth pharmacare a promising start: Unifor

TORONTO, April 27, 2017 /CNW/ - Unifor calls the introduction of Ontario's youth pharmacare program a promising start, despite the program's limitations. 

"We would prefer a universal program in Ontario but this is a first baby step towards the creation of a national pharmacare program for all," said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. "It's unacceptable that anyone must choose between filling their prescriptions and paying their bills. Ontario has cracked open the door with partial coverage for those under 24, now Unifor will continue to fight to expand pharmacare for everyone across the country."

Unifor is also encouraged by increased funding for health, child care and infrastructure but believes today's budget missed an opportunity to improve conditions for precarious low-income workers.

"Increased overall healthcare spending is good news for patients and health care workers but the damage done by chronic historic underfunding must be repaired. Unifor also urges the government to fully restore hospital funding, which fell short in this budget," said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.  "Sustained public investment is needed to provide enhanced stable patient care and a key part of that stability is ensuring adequate staffing levels and a living wage for all workers."

Unifor continues to advocate for a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Rizvi added that the Premier must take concrete action to live up to her words, "governments can and must be a force for good." The upcoming release of the Ontario Changing Workplaces Review will provide the Wynne government with the opportunity to benefit workers by addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and precarious workers, including the shortage of good full-time jobs, low wages, and lack of benefits.

A commitment to 24,000 new child care spots will help ease financial pressure on families and aid women in returning to sustainable employment; however the budget failed to provide desperately needed capital funding or move towards accessible, universal child care.  

Unifor welcomes new investment in infrastructure and advocates for the implementation of a 'Made in Canada' policy, which would give Canadian companies and industries priority on all government procurements and services. "The government needs to maximize job creation and economic growth," said Dias. "Employing Ontarians and fellow Canadians just makes sense, especially at a time when domestic industries, such as softwood lumber, are being penalized with trade hobbled at the border."

The union also calls on the government to avoid balancing the budget at the expense of job growth and investment in public services or with the one-time sale of key assets such as Hydro One.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector, representing more than 310,000 workers, with more than 160,000 in Ontario. It was formed Labour Day weekend 2013 when the Canadian Auto Workers and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers unions merged.


For further information: please contact Unifor Communications Representative Kathleen O'Keefe at kathleen.okeefe@unifor.org or 416-896-3303 (cell).

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