Ontario has begun consultations for the 2023 provincial budget, with the standing committee of Finance and Economic affairs listening to multiple Windsor-Essex region groups requests for funding.
Windsor-Essex Chamber of Commerce, Community Living Essex County and a Windsor-representative of the Ontario Health Coalition were at the meeting asking for additional funding from this year's budget.
Province needs more health-care funding, says Ontario Health Coalition
Shirley Roebuck is on the board of directors for the Ontario Health Coalition and is based in the Windsor-Essex region. She said her organization requested Ontario's healthcare system be properly funded.
"We felt that healthcare should be funded to the level of other provinces in Canada as presently we're last among hospital funding per capita and hospital funding per percentage of [gross domestic product]," Roebuck said.
"We're not asking for extra money, we're asking to be funded to a satisfactory level."
Roebuck said her organization has issues with how the Ford government has handled the health-care system crisis and that more funding needs to be put toward a "vibrant, energetic, progressive public healthcare system."
She said currently the hospitals are in chaos from staffing shortages, there are no beds for patients and home-care is "in shambles."
"The alternative to privatization of our health-care is... for the government to come to the table to create a realistic and rational staffing plan," she said.
Non-profit asks for 'training and incentive' funding
Corey Dalgleish, director of Community Living Essex County, said ongoing staffing shortages have made it impossible to fully reopen their services to the public and has had a "profoundly negative impact on people we serve across Essex County."
Community Living Essex is a non-profit that assists people with disabilities.
At the budget consultation Dalgleish said he asked for more funding to provide training and incentive for developmental service workers.
Dalgleish said when the pandemic began Community Living Essex lost a lot of employees who had transferable healthcare skills.
"We just have not seen the influx of employees coming back," he said.
Windsor-Essex businesses need 'additional support'
CEO of Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Rakesh Naidu says businesses in the region "will be facing some headwinds" in 2023.
He said the chamber of commerce is asking for funding to support businesses struggling with higher employee costs.
Naidu says an impending minimum wage raise is one of those challenges, as it will "increase the burden" on small businesses and may lead them to close.
"We know that the average wage in Windsor-Essex is $26 per hour and that's a significant number. If we were to go for another increase in October as is the plan… that will further increase the burden on employers," he said.
He said he is concerned "another wage increase will push businesses that are barely hanging in there to the edge."