I have a running list of topics I really want to write about. I have a number of columns to write, many of them humorous. Each day, I open up the ole Twitter account and something has taken place that causes me to run off the rails. Lately, its the Ontario government and Ford Nation that challenges my focus. I’ve come to a very unfortunate and sad conclusion: Ontario is more dangerous than ever.
I’m not a scare monger. Changes that have been implemented by the provincial conservative government provide far too much evidence to support my theory. Since taking power, here are the changes Premier Ford has made to our province:
Repeal of Bill 148: freezing of minimum wage increases and the cancellation of paid sick days. Why is this dangerous? A couple of reasons:
- Forcing people to work when ill yet can’t afford to take the day off, will enable the spread of the illness. This equates to more sick workers.
- Workers will continue to live in poverty without the increase in minimum wage. Poverty, homelessness, hunger and health issues will rise
Cancellation of the Basic Income Project and a reduction in planned increase to ODSP support: Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod said the government decided to end the program after being informed by ministry officials that it was failing to help people become “independent contributors to the economy.” (cbc.ca) . This program was cancelled before results could be analyzed. At the same time, a planned 3% increase to ODSP was reduced to a 1.5% increase. Why is this dangerous? Like other cuts/changes, this will lead to an increase in poverty and social issues such as homelessness, mental health issues and suicides.
Closure of the Child Advocates Office: among their duties is to advocate for children, their rights and to investigate concerns, abuses, deaths within Children’s Aid or their sub-contractor. Currently, 27 cases are still open. Why is this dangerous? This should be obvious-who will monitor, investigate and protect the children of the province?
Closure of the Environmental Commissioner’s Office: pretty self explanatory here. Why is this dangerous? Who will be monitoring and championing environmental rights in Ontario?
Elimination of the Drive Clean Program: Some suggest that this program was simply a cash grab. If mechanics were doing their job, and many were, deficiencies in cars would have been found and required repairs made to ensure a “clean” operating vehicle. Why is this dangerous?: Dirtier old cars damaging the environment.
Cancellation of the Cap and Trade Carbon tax: Claiming this program was just another cash grab, Ford cancels program. This resulted in lower gas prices and puts federal climate change funds in jeopardy. Why is this dangerous? More vehicles on the roads equates to more pollution, clogged roads and a threat to public safety. Another example where the Ontario government shows a complete lack of concern for the environment.
Meat Processors no longer need to renew licenses: Supposedly to save $100/yr. Why is this dangerous? Inspections no longer required as the licensing required prior to renewal. Will our meat products be as safe in the future?
Ministry of Labour ends voluntary workplace inspections: This will end inspections aimed at investigating wage theft and other employment standards violations. Why is this dangerous? Workers will no longer be protected against employers who violate pay and overtimes standards.
Cancellation of the new Sex Ed Curriculum: The government has directed schools to adhere to the 1995 curriculum. Why is this dangerous? Students will not be taught about proper consent, new harassment rules, dangers of social media. These ae key areas that need to be taught ensuring safer children and future adults.
Changes to ODSP Disability Criteria: In an effort to align with the federal definition of what “disability” is defined as for future applicants. Why is this dangerous? This will make the application process for those with disabilities, especially a mental health disability, far more challenging. This can only add more anxiety and stress for those with a disability. Many may not be approved, therefore enhancing their illness. Increases in mental health will ensue. Many may give up and resort to homelessness, poverty, suicides.
Reduction in Mental Health Funding: A planned funding of mental health has been reduced by $335 million dollars. Why is this dangerous? Our world is seeing an increase in mental health illnesses. Hospitals are overwhelmed with patients needing assistance. Lack of access to proper mental health care leads to more and more people not being treated and their care managed. We have Diabetic Clinics (thankfully…for now), but we don’t treat mental health with the same critical nature as we do with physical illnesses.
Roundtable on Violence Against Women Cancelled: An expert panel focusing on human trafficking and violence against women is arbitrarily cancelled. Why is this dangerous? Pretty bloody self explanatory. In a world where violence against women continues to be at a crisis point and our governments are still not doing enough to protect women, more women will be at risk. Each day we hear of the deplorable violence and femicide, we need to increase focus and funding, not reduce.
Trans People and Recognition: At a recent Ontario PC convention, a resolution was adopted to debate gender identity. Why is this dangerous? The rights of trans people will be challenged. I can’t imagine the mental duress one must have felt when this resolution was put forward that discriminates against a group of PEOPLE in our society. Failure to promote equal rights for all is intolerable.
I’m sure I’ve missed one or two items that are or will be detrimental to Ontario. Ford Nation has targeted or has hurt the following:
- Ontario children
- Ontario women
- The lower income population
- People with disabilities
- Trans people, young and older
- People with mental health issues
- The environment
- Food Safety
- Health and Safety
- Citizens overall
- Cities and transportation
You might be wondering what I listed “citizens”. A couple of areas where citizens will be hurt:
- Ford announced that lower income earners will pay no provincial taxes. This equates to an approximate savings of $900/year. This is money the government will not receive. Instead of moving forward with a minimum wage increase and forcing employers to pay, citizens will be forced to come up with the funds for this reduction of income for the government.
- The loss of the extra $1/hr will actually put less in the pockets of lower income earners. Less money will result in less spending
- While consumers may benefit at the gas pumps, which will likely result in more cars on the road, will lead to a damaging effect on not only the environment but also on infrastructure. Road use will increase causing more repairs and maintenance. Citizens will have to cover this cost.
- Reduction in license sticker renewals: again, how will this revenue be made up
- Instead of finding ways to prevent mental illness and addictions (possibly caused by forcing citizens to live below the poverty line) may result in increased hospital visits…..someone has to pay for this.
One area of real concern is the support Doug Ford has shown for people like Faith Goldy, someone many refer to as a white nationalist. Here is one of her most recent tweets:
“My God, I am unspeakably thankful for Canada’s Nationalist movement. Every event, I see old friends & meet new patriots who are ready to fight for the future of our home & native land — the True North, strong and FREE!”
So, does this lead one to come to the conclusion that Ford accepts and condones discriminatory behaviour? Sounds almost “Trump Like”. This can only lead to more racism and hatred in our society….extremely dangerous.
The real jolt to reality is that Ford Nation has just started their mandate…..they’ve only just begun! With many more years to sit in power, who knows what else is to come. Ontario has taken several steps backwards. In principle, sometimes one step backwards can lead to two steps forward. Ford and the provincial government has taken more than one step back.
Promises have been made that there will be an end to hallway medicine and more assistance to for those with disabilities to get back into the work force. Yet, “Ontario Open for Business” and “Ontario News Now” have received more attention and funding than the important issues. Ontario overall is more dangerous than ever before. Ford Nation needs to stop demeaning and laughing at MPPs who ask vital questions. The PCs need to stop with the ridiculous standing ovations and the patting on their backs. We’re heading down a very unnerving and dangerous path. Doug Ford had an opportunity to help Ontarians. Instead, he has put them in harms ways.
I don’t know about you, but I’m very concerned about what lies ahead…..