Everything the new Progressive Conservative government in Ontario does hurts Ontarians



Ford's cuts

Ford’s cuts from June to August

Every decision. Every announcement. Every move makes us worse off.

Doug Ford and his Con-servatives campaigned on lowering hydro rates, gas prices and taxes for Ontario people, but never told us how he planned to pay for them. At the same time, he said he’d reduce government spending without cutting programs or public-sector jobs.

Then the first thing he did was fire a bunch of public servants, such as Monique Smith, Ontario’s trade representative in Washington. During a high-stakes trade dispute with Gilead. I mean the United States.

Choking on Ford’s hot air

The next decision was to cancel the cap-and-trade system. They replaced that plan to reduce carbon emissions with … nothing.

Even if you deny it’s contributing to global warming (yes, I said it), the oceans absorb a quarter of atmospheric carbon emissions, where they become carbonic acid. According to Smithsonian Ocean, this is already eroding coral reefs and leading to massive die-offs. Unchecked, this could drastically affect the food supply. For all people.

Higher energy costs

Cancelling the cap-and-trade system meant that programs it paid for were also cancelled:

  • rebates and incentives for homeowners to install energy-efficient furnaces, windows, insulation and other upgrades
  • rebates for electric vehicles
  • money for repairs to school roofs.

Remember how Ford promised “no cuts”? But immediately on taking office, he cut a program that funds education. This is particularly stupid, because it will only increase costs in the long run, and make school buildings less healthy. But who cares, right? Children can’t vote.

Ford also cancelled more than 700 renewable energy projects for small and First Nations communities. These would have substantially reduced their energy costs improved their quality of life. But the Cons don’t care about First Nations. In addition, these cancellations could require the province to pay millions of dollars in penalties.

Tesla is also suing the Ontario government over the cancellation of the electric vehicle rebates. Even if Ontario successfully defends itself, the suit will cost millions.

Ford threatened to fire the CEO of Hydro One, Mayo Schmidt, along with the Board of Directors. Instead, they resigned. Schmidt, whom Ford called “the six million dollar man” (very original, Doug), now gets $9.4 million in various forms of severance payments. (Source: The Globe and Mail.)

To save $6 million, the Ford government is paying half again as much. Because more is less.

Reversing sex education

Ontario’s new Education Minister, Lisa Thompson, insists on calling the sex education curriculum developed in 1998 “the 2014 curriculum.” Photo courtesy CBC.

One promise Ford did keep was to scrap the 2015 sex education curriculum, announcing that teachers would go back to using the curriculum published in 1998. Then the Progressive Con-servatives started lying about it, calling it the “2014 curriculum.” People with clear heads and fewer sexual hangups immediately pointed out that curriculum is literally from a previous century. It does not deal with the realities facing school children today—including those in grade 3 and 4: sexting, online bullying, online pornography, same-sex marriage, homosexual parenting and recognition of gender complexity.

Cuts to the poorest

The Ford government of cons is saving tax dollars by cutting in half a planned increase in social assistance benefits. They’re punishing the poorest and most vulnerable people in our province.

When Toronto mayor John Tory asked the province for help in sheltering and resettling asylum seekers, Ford cancelled provincial support and blamed the federal government.

The cons are also cancelling the basic income pilot project. This was an experiment that guaranteed an income in three communities to test whether this would improve their quality of life and ability to find a higher-paying job. Cancelling it means the money spent already is wasted, with no data resulting.

But Conservatives don’t need information to make decisions. They decide based on what they believe.

That’s also apparent in the freezing of discretionary spending by Ontario public servants on things like newspaper subscriptions. Why bother being informed about what’s happening?

More police

Ford has frozen hiring in the provincial public service, as well—except for cops. He’s also rolling back civilian oversight of police. Sound like a familiar plan?

Money to punish

Punishing political opponents seems to be another priority for Doug Ford. Last month began his promised “line by line” audit of provincial spending over the past 15 years, when it was governed by the Liberals. This will cost $1 million, and won’t do anything to benefit anyone in the future. But it could be used to punish people.

Continuing on the punishment theme, the Conservatives have cut by nearly half the number of Toronto city councilors, two months before the next election. Ford also cancelled elections of regional chairs. Now those offices will be filled by people Ford appoints. The leading contender for the elected Chair of Peel region: the previous leader of the Progressive Conservatives and Ford opponent Patrick Brown.

Noticing a trend yet, Ontarians?

Withholding help is also punishment

Conservatives don’t believe in treating drug addicts (like Doug Ford’s late brother, Rob). So they’re cancelling any new safe injection sites. This effectively condemns hundreds of people, including children, to death by overdose, at a time when preventable overdose deaths are spiking in Ontario.

But who cares about drug users, anyway? Except for Rob Ford.

Speaking of drugs …

There will be no legal cannabis stores in Ontario until April 1, 2019. Recreational cannabis becomes legal across Canada on October 17, 2018. But Ontarians will have to wait six months before we can buy it at a local store.

The previous government would have opened government-controlled cannabis stores, operated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, along the same successful pattern.

But that doesn’t fit the Progressive Conservative philosophy, or at least the Doug Ford strain. He wants to see privately owned stores selling cannabis. Which will bring big business into it. Already, small businesses are expressing worry about being squeezed out of this nascent market, and the company that owns Corona beer is spending billions to acquire the largest cannabis producer in Canada.

We’ll be able to order weed online, legally as of October 17. How this approach will keep it out of the hands of children is a mystery.

But that doesn’t matter. As long as we follow Doug Ford’s philosophy, right?

Don’t forget a cut that’s coming

The Conservatives campaigned on not increasing the minimum wage by a dollar an hour in January. Then Ford actually had the gall to say it was better for minimum wage earners, because his government would not take any provincial income tax on minimum wage.

Here’s the reasoning: the provincial income tax on a dollar per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, is about $800.

The increase in annual income of $1 per hour for that job would be $2,080. At the minimum tax rate, that would be a net of $1,768.

Photo: Creative Commons

$800 in your pocket is better than $1,768.

Because worse is better in Conservative Ontario. Less is more. More is less.

Don’t ask questions. Don’t get informed, Ontario. Just believe your Progressive Conservative government.

About the Author