Premier Doug Ford campaigned under the slogan: ‘for the people'. But one year later, it’s ‘the people’ who are paying the price
One year ago, Doug Ford was elected their premier — and, soon-after his electoral win on the back of a non-platform, he began hacking away at the rights of regular Ontarians.
One year later, Ford’s support has collapsed, with signs Ford’s wide unpopularity is going to be a big liability for federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer this fall.
Here are ten reasons why Ford has become so unpopular:
Slashing The Minimum Wage
Ford moved to cut thousands from the yearly incomes of the province’s most vulnerable workers, back in October.
The Making Ontario Open For Business Act took away Ontario’s workers’ recently-won right to paid sick days, to unionize without intimidation and to a scheduled $15 minimum wage.
Ford cancelled the increase from $14 to $15, freezing the nominal wage for two years in what, with inflation, amounts to real a cut in the minimum wage.
Destroying Protections For Apprentices
The same bill that cut Ontario’s minimum wage also massively reduced training standards for apprentices.
As PressProgress reported, the bill increased the number of apprentices allowed to work on job sites without increased supervision. The current ratio, 1:1 is much closer to BC which has no set ratio and the highest rate of apprentice injuries in any province.
But at least Ontario’s anti-union contractors were happy.
Dragged Schools’ Health Curriculum’s Back Over Ten Years
As PressProgress reported, Ford described the most recent updates to the province’s sexual education curriculum a “failed ideological experiment” after, not-unimportantly, courting the support of the religious right to win the PC leadership race.
The curriculum Ford restored sees the government deleting references to sexual orientation, gender identity and same-sex relationships.
Evangelical leader Charles McVety previously said he and Ford were “in lock-step” in regards to sex-ed, following Ford’s throne speech.
Meanwhile, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association described the repeal as a “great disappointment” saying the change does students a “disservice.
Gerrymandered Local Elections in Toronto
The Ford government rammed through legislation, last year, to radically redraw Toronto’s electoral boundaries two months before local elections. Even the premier’s allies admitted he did this to settle personal scores with old political enemies.
After the Ontario Superior Court ruled Ford’s gerrymandering was “unconstitutional,” the premier threatened to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause. Human Rights group Amnesty International said Ford’s actions were a “contemptuous step of disregard for the Charter of Rights.”
Gutting Support For Low Income Students
Now, those students will be stuck with rising debt to cover their increasingly-expensive education.
The government also moved to eliminate the six month grace period on student loan interest, further indebting vulnerable students.
Cut Autism Support Services
As PressProgress reported, the Ford government’s changes to autism support are expected to cost some families up to $80,000 a year for some intensive therapies.
Under the proposed changes, eligible families receive a maximum lifetime total of up to $140,000 per child for treatment. But the cap gets lower as kids get older. So, a two-year-old child entering the program gets the maximum $140,000 but a seven-year old would be capped at $55,000. And each year after? The cap is $5,000 per anum.
That’s a problem for kids requiring intensive therapy, which can cost between $50,000 to $70,000 a year, according to Ontario Autism Coalition. A look at the service costs can put some families deep in the red — up to, perhaps, $80,000, in some cases.
The changes have led many to demand minister Lisa MacLeod resign. And, it is part of the reason why Ford received a very loud, prolonged boo at the Special Olympics, in Toronto.
“My friends, boy, that’s the first time I’ve ever had some boos.”
WATCH: Hundreds of people booed Premier Doug Ford at the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Tuesday night: https://t.co/P2GAHQBr0e pic.twitter.com/AbqWy7oxq1
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) May 15, 2019
Asked about it, by Global News, Ford remarked “I listen to the real people.” Asked to clarify he said “they never voted for me in the first place, they’re so proud to tell me that.” He later said “they won’t vote me for me in 100 years but these are the same people who have their hands in the public trough.” That’s both insulting and a mixed metaphor.
Cut Health And Education Funding
In Ontario’s 2019 budget, both health and education had their nominal budgets increased — by less than the rate of inflation, let alone population growth — amounting to a real cut.
Cathy Abraham, president of the Ontario Public School Boards Association, said “there is absolutely really not any increase here for us.”
On April 25th, the government announced it was providing funds and a directive to ensure no teachers are laid off owing to increased lass sizes. But, on April 26th, it was reported the Ontario government was it’s anticipating a 19.94% cut in expenditure on its Pupil Foundation Grant — the largest single component of the school board funding and is used for salaries of teachers, early childhood educators, and other education workers — from last year. For the year 2018-19, the the Pupil Foundation Grant was projected to be $11.16 billion by the outgoing Liberals. For the year 2019-20, the Pupil Foundation Grant is $ 10.5681 billion. That’s $633 million lower.
Likewise, the Huffington Post noted, the budget’s increase in health spending falls roughly $5 billion short of what the Financial Accountability Office found is needed to maintain the services it currently provides.
Slashed Support For Refugee Claimants And Their Children
PressProgress reported, on April 15, Legal Aid Ontario’s CEO said in a staff memo: “The province has told the agency it can only use federal funding to cover new immigration and refugee services this year.”
That cut to provincial funding will mean service reductions. And, those service reductions will likely mean non-citizens will be forced to represent themselves at refugee hearings, in refugee appeals and judicial reviews, in immigration detention proceedings, in humanitarian and compassionate applications for permanent residence, and the like.
Given how much of success in those hearings hinges on access to counsel, that will lead to more people being sent back to unsafe countries. That could leave Canada in contravention of international refugee law.
As PressProgress was first to report, the Ontario government has also informed municipal service providers it intends to eliminate the Transition Child Benefit, this November. That’s bad news as the TCB provides support for the children of refugee claimants and the recently unemployed so they can access “basic necessities” like food and clothing.
When asked about it in the legislature, Minister MacLeod opted to scaremonger about “border crossers” instead of addressing concerns by parents and health providers the cut will increase the province’s number of homeless children.
Cut Income Support For Low Income Families And People With Disabilities
The Ford government’s first budget planned for a gigantic $1 billion cut to the expenses of the ministry responsible for providing the province’s income support programs — without explanation.
Soon after, PressProgress uncovered that the province’s budget estimates lay out, for the next year, a plan to cut over $514 million from financial support through Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.
These devastating planned cuts foreshadow dark things in the government’s proposed revamp of ODSP.
Threatened Funding For School Breakfast Programs
Also in Ontario’s budget was an enormous cut to Toronto Public Health that, PressProgress reported, would put 600 school breakfast programs at risk.
As we reported, UNICEF has repeatedly that noted such funding is needed to boost Canada’s lagging child nutrition.
Eventually, Ford backed off the cut but only promised “We’re going to give them more time. This is going to be a win for the taxpayers at the end of the day.”