The 2021 Federal Budget and Ontario Provincial Budget were recently released, setting the tone of government priorities for the new fiscal year. As expected, both budgets strongly emphasized the importance of finishing the fight against COVID-19 by enhancing our health systems and rebuilding our economy.
Earlier in the year and late last year, budget consultations were held by both levels of government to gather feedback on the kinds of supports Canadians require to overcome the pandemic, and to identify systems areas in need of critical improvement. WoodGreen contributed to the consultation process by providing key input based on our service areas and key organizational priorities. Based on our review of the 2021 Budgets, we are pleased to note that several of WoodGreen’s budget recommendations were considered.
- Enhanced investments to address housing challenges
As Toronto’s second largest affordable housing provider, WoodGreen encouraged both the Government of Canada and Government of Ontario to provide stable funding to support the growth of community and social housing. In the 2021 budgets, several investments have been introduced to address the challenge of affordable housing, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. At the federal level, various housing programs received increased funding to persevere their momentum. $1.5 billion were committed for the Rapid Housing Initiative, and $600M for the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund.
Several support programs for individuals and families have also been introduced by the Ontario Government, with additional targeted funding to house the most vulnerable These programs include the Transitional Housing Support Program, which focuses on spaces for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking and the Adult Protective Service Worker program, which aims to assist more people with developmental disabilities.
2. Continued investments for youth
The federal government has made significant progress in implementing its first-ever National Child Care Strategy, with almost $40 billion dollars invested in the long future to achieve their objectives. The provincial and federal governments are similarly committed to enhancing the supports and resources available to Canada's youth, who were a particularly hard-hit demographic by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding for several federal youth-oriented programs and services, such as the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy has notably increased.
- Continued investments for community health
Overcoming the COVID-19 virus is a top priority for all levels of government as both the federal and provincial governments maintain their focus on a nationwide vaccine rollout and strengthening funding for its health services.
Several of the Federal government's health investments are aimed at advancing the development of mental and physical health programming for a post-COVID Canada. Following WoodGreen’s 2021 Federal Pre-Budget Submission, we are pleased to see additional investments made by the Government of Canada to support community health service providers like ourselves in helping seniors and vulnerable community members to stay home and stay safe with the introduction of the Age Well at Home Initiative. The initiative aims to assist community-based organizations with providing practical support that helps low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors age in place. WoodGreen also welcome supplement funding for the Enabling Accessibility Fund, which supports to make communities and workplaces more accessible for persons with disabilities.
- Mitigating Covid-19 impact on employment, preparing the future of work.
Recognizing the enormous effect COVID-19 has had on the economy and labour market, the Federal and Provincial governments have prioritized employment creation and reskilling/upskilling in their 2021 budgets. The Government of Ontario’s establishment of an Ontario Workforce Recovery Advisory Committee, which will seek to consult with a variety of workforce and industry experts, including the non-profit sector to rebuild and reopen Ontario’s economy, is an engagement opportunity WoodGreen is well-equipped for.
We appreciate the efforts of the Governments of Canada and Ontario to commit to pushing the needle on progress and enhancing many of our systems that have been detrimentally impacted by this pandemic. As the fight against the COVID-19 continues, WoodGreen Community Services is committed to supporting the federal and provincial governments as they work to ensure our health care system, communities and economy are positioned to weather this crisis and secure a fast and efficient recovery.