What the Ford government has done to the province in the first year of its mandate can best be described as a horror story. But what’s even more frightening is that there are still three more years to go. OPSEU is compiling a list of what this government, who claims itself to be “for the people”, is exactly doing to “the people” that Doug Ford claims to care about. But the Ford government has wreaked so much havoc on Ontarians that we can only provide a partial list. It doesn’t get any scarier than that.
Just some of the damage that Doug Ford has done since becoming Ontario’s premier:
- Cuts the province’s cap-and-trade program, resulting in loss of $3 billion in revenue for the province and pushing Ontario further into the red.
- Fights federal carbon tax (lawsuits, ads, etc.), even though Ontarians will get the money back through rebates and it’s good for the environment.
- Cancels College Task Force, which is a violation of our bargaining rights.
- Institutes broader public sector hiring freeze, effectively meaning job cuts when vacancies remain unfilled.
- Cuts to Pharmacare, which will result in higher premiums for private health insurance.
- Legislates striking York University faculty, TA’s and Grad Assistants back to work (CUPE 3903), which means he could do the same thing to OPSEU members.
- Rolls back sex-education to 1998 curriculum, endangering our children by failing to address modern day issues
- Cancels Truth and Reconciliation Curriculum, continuing the province’s legacy of systemic racism for Indigenous students and educators.
- Suspends Bill 175, which updates the Police Service Act (police oversight legislation), leaving
- racialized and Indigenous people vulnerable to police actions.
- Cuts the three per cent increase to Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program down to 1.5%, continuing the cycle of poverty for everyone who depends on these programs.
- Cuts $1.34 billion in new money over four years for mental health initiatives introduced by the former Liberal government, putting more strain on already overburdened public services and frontline workers.
- Cuts $100 million from school repair budget (Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund), negatively impacting working conditions of educators and learning environment for children.
- Launches its own North Korean government-style propaganda channel “Ontario News Now” – paid for by our tax dollars.
- Stalls on putting vaping regulations in place, which is bad for everyone’s health and places more of a burden on our healthcare system.
- Ends electric and hydrogen vehicle incentive program, willfully refusing to clean up our air while holding Ontario back from embracing electric vehicles, which is the way of the future.
- Cancels opening of three new overdose prevention sites in St. Catharines, Toronto and Thunder Bay, offering no solution to an addiction and health crisis.
- Removes cap limiting provincial funding on for-profit day care, which means more of our taxpayer dollars will go to for-profit day cares.
- Launches the failed “Buck-A-Beer” initiative, which was a public health and safety issue as cheaper alcohol can lead to increased alcohol consumption which, in turn, puts pressure on our healthcare system with more alcohol-related deaths, disease and hospitalization.
- Announces “snitch line” for complaints about teachers still referring to updated sex-ed curriculum, creating a toxic atmosphere for both educators and parents.
- Refuses to release MPPs’ mandate letters that outline government expectations of cabinet ministers, keeping all of us in the dark about what Ford and his cronies are up to.
- Demands all post-secondary institutions have a free-speech policy and threatens to withhold funding for schools which don’t comply.
- Muzzles civil servants from using the term “climate change” online, ignoring science, reality and the devastating threat to our children’s future on this planet.
- Rescinds $500,000 in funding to Toronto after-school music program for at-risk youth.
- Cuts four subcommittees on Ministry responsible for Anti-Racism, leaving racialized and Indigenous workers vulnerable to systemic racism.
- Takes a photo with (and subsequently took three days to distance himself from) alt-right mouthpiece Faith Goldy, which should concern all Ontarians that our premier emboldens people who have hateful beliefs and seek to divide our society. This is not what Ontario stands for!
- Cuts nearly half of Toronto’s city councilors, who were elected by the people, by using the notwithstanding clause and without consulting anyone. How is this democracy?
- Pays off Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) Unfunded Liability 10 years ahead of schedule against Auditor General recommendation. The WSIB announced it is reducing premium rates for employers by 30% which could affect the number of worker benefits paid out.
- Changes Queen’s Park rules to ram through bills more quickly, which means Ford can push through his destructive agenda with more ease – whether you like it or not!
- Kills all progress in employment standards as outlined in Bill C-148, including equal pay for equal work, the minimum wage hike to $15, personal emergency leave of 10 days (two of them paid).
- Considers rolling minimum wage back in 2020, making it even more difficult for minimum wage earners to get ahead.
- Halts proactive workplace inspections, leaving workers vulnerable to wage theft and other ESA violations.
- Cuts expert panel on ending violence against women, which was mostly pro bono. Violence against women comes with an enormous economic and social cost to everybody — extra health care costs for totally preventable injuries, lost productivity in both paid and unpaid work, extra burden on extended families/friends/community services, etc.
- Withholds funding promised by previous Liberal government for sexual assault centres and programs for male sexual assault survivors ($14.8 million spread out over three years), denying help to men who need help to heal from sexual assault trauma.
- Cancels previous Liberal government’s plan to license and certify firefighting personnel in order to create uniform safety standards across the province, putting the safety of all Ontarians at risk.
- Suspends Parents Reaching Out program, which funds school parent councils and encourages parental/guardian involvement in their children’s schools.
- Halts expansion of three university satellite campuses in Brampton, Markham and Milton, restricting closer-to-home education options for students and faculty in the Greater Toronto Area while not helping to alleviate GTA commuter chaos.
- Scraps three-cent-per-litre beer tax, causing province to lose out on $11 million in revenue (between November 2018 and March 2019) that could have been used to fund public services for Ontarians.
- Awards recreational cannabis sales to private retailers, causing province to lose out on substantial revenues.
- Provision in Bill 47 to “wind up” Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), risking public protection in key trades, as well as the safety and proper training of apprentices and tradespeople.
- The Low Income Individuals and Families tax credit (LIFT) amounts to about half of what workers would make if the minimum wage increased to $15, keeping low income earners trapped in a cycle of poverty.
- Orders all provincial agencies to get government approval for wage settlements obtained through collective bargaining.
- Dismisses transphobic motion at PC convention to remove gender identity from sex ed curriculum – that this was even brought up at all is a problem that speaks to discrimination against marginalized groups.
- Blocks NDP motion for 2,000 new long-term care beds in the east Toronto (Scarborough), Whitby and Oshawa – with an aging population, this is a short-sighted move that shows the Ford government is abandoning the needs of the elderly and their families.
- Cuts independent French language services commissioner and cancels plans for a French-language university, showing us that this government dismisses Francophone Ontarians and their rights to access services and education in French.
- Removes rent control for new units across Ontario, which affects all renters moving into new units as those rents could end up soaring.
- Cancels tax on highest earning Ontarians resulting in $275 million in lost provincial revenue.
- Eliminates Ontario Child Advocate’s Office, causing our society’s most vulnerable children to lose an independent office that will fight for them.
- Sends memo to OPS offering a “time-limited transition exit initiative” and a “voluntary exit program” – That’s code for job losses.
- Introduces Bill 66, loosening workplace rules on overtime, safety regulations, increased day care class sizes, etc.
- Cuts funding to College of Midwives of Ontario, putting strain on a profession led by women, who not only make 53 per cent of what physicians earn but will now have to pay increased dues.
- Cuts Funding for Ontario Arts Council, including the Indigenous Cultural Fund which had to lay off staff. More job losses!
- Bond rating agency Moody’s downgrades Ontario because of its $14.5 million deficit for 2018/2019, which is expected to continue for a number of years. If interest rates go up, more of the province’s money will be going to pay off interest instead of to public services.
- Cuts $25 million in school board funding for tutoring, extra programs for racialized and Indigenous students. When kids who need extra help don’t get it they may never catch up and face disadvantage later in life.
- Breaks promise to not put pot dispensaries “beside schools” and changes minimum distance to 150 metres from schools from Kathleen Wynne’s minimum distance of 450 metres, so our children are even closer to marijuana exposure.
- Legislates OPG workers back to work, demonstrating that it will legislate workers deemed “non-essential” back to work.
- Moves health and safety training for 50,000 workplaces from in-person to online, which assumes workers will actually do the training and ultimately puts your health and safety at risk.
- Refuses to commit to full-day kindergarten beyond the 2019-2020 academic year, potentially leaving educators vulnerable to layoffs and parents scrambling to find day care or other ways to care for their kids who aren’t in school getting an education.
- Considers removing cap on class sizes for kindergarten and Grades 1, 2 and 3, leaving educators vulnerable to layoffs and reducing the quality of education for our children.
- Cuts Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) grants and eliminates free tuition for low-income students and cuts tuition by 10 per cent, threatening students to carry more post-graduation debt and causing post-secondary institutions to take a revenue hit which could affect academic programs.
- Allows post-secondary students to opt out of student union fees through the Student Choice Initiative (except health and safety), targeting programs that help vulnerable students (LGBTQ support, disability support, sexual assault counselling, student food banks, etc.)
- Cuts $15 million for the Ontario Trillium Foundation causing non-profit organizations to not be able to move forward with funding programs and upgrades which are needed to help people who need these services.
- Removes electric charging stations from GO Station parking lots, which discourages electric vehicle purchasing/use which is bad for climate change, which is bad for the environment, which is bad for everyone who breathes.
- Enforces 1:1 ratio for journeymen:apprentice in the trades. This means up to 50 per cent of a job site could be apprentices, increasing the likelihood of worker injury and work that is dangerous because it’s not done by experienced tradespeople.
- Unethically takes credit for CAMH expansion even though construction actually began in 2017 under the previous Liberal government.
- Changes funding to the Ontario Autism Program by taking money away from regional agencies while giving funding directly to parents, many of whom say won’t cover the cost of treatment.
- Threatened the Ontario Association for Behaviour Analysis with “four long years” if they didn’t get on board with changes to autism funding, showing us that the province has a “my way or the highway” approach to governing.
- Dissolving Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs) and replacing them with a “super agency,” opening the door to health care privatization.
- “Streamlines” landlord tenant board to make it easier for landlords to evict people.
- Closes Local Planning Appeal Support Centre (LPASC) which helps people fight developers who are ruining their neighbourhoods and/or green space.
- Cuts funds for equity and inclusion causing shutdown of Harmony Movement, which helps address problems of discrimination and hate crimes through education.
- Cuts 10 per cent to Human Right Legal Support Centre’s budget, affecting OPSEU Local 5118 members who do work that helps settle cases in mediation so our court system isn’t bogged down with hearings.
- Proposed safe injection sites put on hold, resulting in more deaths, more crime and more strain on our health care system.
- Announces education reforms, including increases to class sizes from Grades 4-12 to reduce number of teachers, more online learning, sex-ed subjects such as gender identity taught later.
- Recommends a hiring freeze across all of Ontario’s school boards so if educators are needed, they won’t be hired.
- Planning $500 million in cuts to OHIP services, which will lead to losses of public services we all rely on and health care jobs.
- Cuts Legal Aid Funding by 30 per cent and prohibits Legal Aid from not using provincial money for refugee and immigration cases, creating a meaner society.
- Cuts library funding by 50 per cent which cuts access to books for everyone – especially lower income and Indigenous Ontarians.
- Considers cutting OHIP coverage for Ontarians travelling outside Canada which will lead to an increase private travel insurance premiums and more out-of-pocket expenses.
- Pledges to bring beer to convenience and big box stores, which would be a breach of contract with The Beer Store and large brewers and result in hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties.
- Puts taxpayers on the hook for pet projects of rebranding Ontario logo and license plates.
- Cuts 50 million trees program and that is bad for everyone who breathes oxygen.
- Moves to legalize tailgate parties, earlier drinking and drinking in parks, which increases the likelihood of putting us all at risk of being hit by drunk drivers.
- Cuts $1 billion from Toronto Public Health, which provides services everyone in the province uses (i.e. Motherisk program).
- Cuts Indigenous Affairs budget by 50 per cent — a regressive move for reconciliation efforts.
- Cuts nearly $1 billion from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services because our children, communities and social services don’t matter to this government.
- Cuts $350 million from Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks and changes name from Ministry of Environment and Climate Change in order to further dismiss climate change.
- Cuts flood protection funding of $7.4 million by 50 per cent and, after parts of Ontario suffered devastating spring flooding, now says it will create a flood “task force.”
- Cuts $162 million from Ministry of Natural Resources and $50 million from emergency forest firefighting budget.
- Introduces legislation to make it nearly impossible for anyone wronged or hurt by government policy to sue the province (including class action lawsuits)
- Cuts all provincial funding to Tourism Toronto ($9.5 million) and from Ottawa Tourism ($3.4 million), which will hurt Ontario’s economy.
- Moves to cap public sector wages through legislation, causing little or no pay increases for hundreds of thousands of unionized workers for the next few years.
- Eliminates funding to Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, forcing it to close and causing frontline workers at OLG and OAG to lose resources to prevent problem gambling.
- Under intense pressure, reverses retroactive funding cuts to Ontario’s 444 municipalities – for now. Cuts are expected to come next year, raising the possibility of property tax increases.
- Plans to cut public health units from 35 across the province to just 10 (with only two covering all of northern Ontario), threatening the health and safety of all Ontarians and likely resulting in layoffs for frontline workers.
- Eliminates $1 million in funding to the free “Leave the Pack Behind” smoking cessation program for young people, causing the program to fold and 28 people to lose their jobs. This could lead to more young people becoming smokers, placing the eventual burden of smoking-related illnesses on our health care system.
- Slashes funding for nine Ontario programs responsible for keeping invasive species in check, opening the door to invasive species decimating the ecosystems of the Great Lakes and other bodies of water which will, in turn, hurt industries that rely on them as well as jeopardize the recreational enjoyment of all Ontarians.
- On World Hunger Day, gives farmers a tax credit for donating healthy food to food banks – and pats itself on the back saying that the work done by farmers and food banks “…mirrors our government’s poverty reduction initiatives aimed at helping the most vulnerable” – even though it cancelled initiatives that actually help people overcome poverty and hunger such as the minimum wage increase to $15.
- Cuts the Transition Child Benefit, which helps families who are struggling financially (e.g. the recently unemployed, refugee claimants). This will put families and children at risk of hunger and homelessness and add more stress on our social safety nets.
- Fully eliminates $5 million in provincial funding for stem cell research, putting the lives and well-being of premature babies at risk and sending a signal to investors and industries that Ontario is not “open for research and innovation.”
- Causes Judith Nyman Secondary School in Brampton to pull the plug on its full-time electricity program – the only one of its kind in the region. This not only robs kids of a possible career choice, but it also robs Ontario of future electricians. (The school has since reinstated the electricity program after student outcry.)
- Passes legislation that rips up the province’s contract with The Beer Store, resulting in $1 billion in penalties – money it could use to fund health care, education, programs and services that Ontarians rely on.
- Introduces legislation to cap public sector wage increases at one per cent for three years, which doesn’t keep up with the rate of inflation and violates the ability of OPSEU and other unions to collectively bargain on your behalf.
- Rams through the More Homes, More Choice Act, which gives developers a green light to bulldoze wherever they want to build more homes for people without any regard for the homes of Ontario’s endangered plants and animals. With climate change being just one of many examples, we know that we ignore environmental crises at our peril.
- Starts an excessive five-month-long “summer break” for the legislature.
- Announces it wants anti-carbon tax propaganda stickers posted prominently on all gas pumps in Ontario by August 30th and threatens gas stations with fines of up to $10,000 per day if they don’t comply.
- Causes the Toronto Catholic District School Board to charge teachers $10 a day to park in their own school parking lots to off-set cuts to education. This amounts to a wage claw-back and could be the start of a trend within the education sector.
- Shuffles cabinet and expands it from 21 to 28.
- Names 13 additional MPPs as parliamentary assistants during the cabinet shuffle, bringing the total to 31. Each of them gets $16,600 in addition to the six-figure salaries they make.
- Cuts hundreds of health care jobs as it merges health agencies. It shows a complete lack of understanding that frontline workers are too busy doing their jobs and need administrative and back-office support to deliver high-quality health care to Ontarians.
- Cancels Canada Day celebrations at Queen’s Park, which was a 50-year-old tradition. Instead it offers a limited number of free admissions to 10 Ontario attractions.
- Internal report leaked to Globe and Mail suggests the Ford government intentionally inflated its reported number of children with autism on waiting lists for treatment in order to justify changes to the Ontario Autism Program.
- Saying that it expects “no negative impacts,” the government cancels refundable tax credit that helps seniors pay for their public transit costs. Making transit less affordable adds to traffic congestion which affects all of us and it also could be a catastrophic cut for seniors on fixed incomes.
- May force the cancellation of 3,000 new daycare spaces in Toronto, which were promised by the previous Liberal government, because of budget cuts. This affects parents who need high-quality and affordable care for their children.
- Reversed some of the massive funding cuts for festivals receiving the Celebrate Ontario grant, but it is still not enough. Some of the hardest hit festivals had to alter their activities and/or sell off assets, negatively impacting the festival experience for everyone.
- Despite cutting funding for some festivals around the province, it gave a $12,000 Celebrate Ontario grant to a “Jesus in the City” parade put on by a Toronto evangelical Christian group. The parade is associated with Revered Charles McVety, who is a friend of Doug Ford’s and known to oppose same-sex marriage and the updated sex ed curriculum.
- Makes disparaging public comments about Zhebin Cong, who escaped while in the care of Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, including calling him a “nutcase.” This shows that Ford has no understanding of mental health issues and continues to perpetuate stigma and discrimination through these types of comments.
- Causes the KidsAbility Centre for Child Development in the Waterloo and Guelph-Wellington area to lay off nearly two-thirds of its staff who provide autism therapy because of the province’s fee-for-service.
- Promises a revamped Ontario Autism Program after intense public criticism of the government’s decision to take money away from regional agencies while giving funding directly to parents. But the new Ontario Autism Program won’t be put in place until April 2020 at the earliest, leaving children with autism and their parents without access to high-quality public services.
- Says Doug Ford can’t be bought, but Pelee Island winery and other businesses with founders or CEOs who have donated to the PC Party get public endorsements by the Ford government’s propaganda channel Ontario News Now. This sends the message that the government “for the people” is really a government “for the people who donate to the PC Party.”
- Forces a legal aid office in Toronto to move to an inaccessible church basement because of massive legal aid cuts.
- Announces that the axe will fall on planned municipal funding cuts on January 1, 2020, raising the possibility of property tax increases.
- Bullies gas stations to put anti-carbon tax propaganda stickers posted prominently on all gas pumps in Ontario and threatens gas stations with daily fines if they don’t comply.
- Says its North Korean government-style propaganda channel “Ontario News Now” is here to stay, despite calls from the NDP and the public for the taxpayer-funded channel to be shut down.
- Claiming this as “urgent,” fast-tracks appointee to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal by changing Ontario’s appointment rules that require, among other things, a “competitive, merit-based process” in selecting appointees.
- Orders all new teachers to pass a math test with a minimum score of 70% — regardless of the subjects they teach.
- Caused the Toronto District School Board to cut nearly 300 full-time jobs because of government funding cuts.
- Delists 11 “medically unnecessary” tests and procedures from OHIP, including preoperative history and physical assessments.
- Without consultation or warning, orders province’s conservation authorities to “wind down” programs it deemed unnecessary – fueling concerns among conservationists that the province is now more vulnerable to flood damage.
- Officially releases “revamped” sex ed curriculum – which ended up being very similar to the previous Liberal government’s 2015 curriculum – wasting everyone’s time and money.
- Cancels funding to two cultural and community service hubs – one in Guelph and one in Toronto.
- Starts court proceedings to fight Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner Brian Beamish’s order to release Ford’s mandate letters to his cabinet ministers. Beamish says Ontarians have a right to know what the Ford government is up to, but the government would rather keep us all in the dark.
- Spends time that he could be using to work “for the people” on making videos for his taxpayer-funded propaganda channel “Ontario News Now.” It was revealed that during his first year as premier, Doug Ford filmed at least 100 videos for “Ontario News Now.”
- Causes large northern Ontario autism treatment provider, Child and Community Resources, to lay off and lose staff stop offering fee-for-service autism treatment services because of its funding changes to the Ontario Autism Program.
- Participates in ribbon cutting ceremony for Niagara University, a new private American university north of Toronto, while cutting funding for public education.
- Won’t release class size consultation information to Ontario parent groups; once again demonstrating that this government is not transparent and would prefer to hide information from “the people.”
- Is blamed by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation for more than 150 full-time high school teachers in Toronto either having their hours reduced to part-time or losing their jobs altogether due to education cuts.
- Causes legal clinic, Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC), to launch a Charter challenge against the Ford government for cutting the Transition Child Benefit, saying it’s discriminatory and robs children of their rights to life and security.
- Is sued by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which alleges the Ford government policy of forcing gas stations to display misleading anti-carbon tax propaganda stickers is illegal because it violates their Constitutional right to free speech. This means the province will be wasting more taxpayer time and money on fighting lawsuits related to the federal carbon tax – in addition to the wasted taxpayer money on the stickers that won’t actually stick to the gas pumps.
- Is sued for wrongful termination by former interim OPP commissioner Brad Blair for $15 million. Another lawsuit being paid for by taxpayer dollars.
- Threatens the existence of basketball museum in Almonte, Ontario due to proposed budget cuts. Basketball was invented in Canada and an important part of Canada’s sports history is being threatened.
- Causes affordable housing project in east Toronto to be scrapped because a program that would have helped pay for the project was axed.
- Did not participate in the global climate even though the future of our planet is at stake. But on the day of the global climate strike, Environment Minister Jeff Yurek claimed that the Ford government is “leading the way” in fighting climate change despite policies that indicate the exact opposite. Yurek didn’t attend the climate strike either.
- Will cause the loss of about 10,000 teachers over the next five years due to the increase in class sizes, according to the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (the province’s fiscal watchdog).