Newly Elected Premier Doug Ford said during the election campaign that caregivers and parents with children with disabilities would never have to march on Queen’s Park again if he was elected Premier. A new op-ed written by Stuart Trew from the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives warns that one of Ford’s promises during the campaign predicts significant cuts to social services moving forward, and parents who have long fought the austerity measures of Wynne may need to fight once again.
During the election campaign Ford promised to hold an “independent” audit of the provinces finances. According to Trew this is one of the oldest tricks in the books when it comes to trying to justify substantial austerity.
The Ontario Liberals used similar tricks. It was outgoing premier Kathleen Wynne who put former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark at the head of a value-for-money panel that eventually recommended privatizing Hydro One. That panel outsourced $7 million worth of its work to private auditors including KPMG, Pricewaterhousecoopers and Deloitte, all of which treat government like a corporation when assessing where and by how much to slash. (They all also work for companies who would profit from privatizing services currently delivered by the public sector.)
We needn’t wait for the results of Ontario’s “independent” audit to guess the outcome. The new premier’s transition team is filled with elites tied to the corporate world, not “the people,” as Premier Ford likes to say. The report will be designed carefully to 1) make the last government look really bad; 2) inflate the importance of government spending as a component of the province’s overall deficit, and, in doing so; 3) pave the way for ideologically driven cuts to social services. The result of following through with this process—which can be deadly, as the U.K. study found—is equally easy to predict, which is why we can’t let it happen again.
Kathleen Wynne used the same tactics to take an axe to services with kids with special needs. She tried to save a buck by restricting behavioral therapy to kids over the age of 5, which she recanted on due to public backlash. She slashed the special needs budgets of school boards to the point where kids with disabilities are still often sent home rather than in school learning. The cupboards are already bare. Any more cuts to social and public services could be devastating to kids with disabilities and their families.
Ford has also started a “wind down” of Ontario’s cap and trade program. The Trudeau government signaled today that the federal government could withhold over $420 million in transfer payments used to pay off current green energy contracts and programs currently being phased out. The two leaders meet tomorrow.
I haven’t blogged in a bit, but with all the political talk now-a-days surrounding the teachers strikes in Ontario, I wanted to share an exchange with an union member I had recently. I’ve written a lot about education issues on this blog over the years, and felt the need to pipe up now.
Photo’s (not the one used in this post, and this photo is of an actual classroom that the teacher allowed the kids to mess up) have surfaced by education union members of trashed classrooms citing the need for more funds and adequate support. I did a lot of advocacy around student safety over the past decade and I wanted to share this particular response I wrote to a teacher defending the need for more funding for supports in the classroom to deal with “workplace violence”:
In 2009 kids from Keswick High School walked out on mass due to an Asian student being wrongfully expelled. I worked along side youth advocates to find out exactly what was going on in the education system. I’m a systems analyst.
What happened at Keswick High was a complete breakdown of the system. Legislation wasn’t properly followed, and funds earmarked for “student safety” never seemed to materialize at the school level despite having traced the funds from the province to the YRDSB.
Our local news paper wouldn’t hold our trustee to account for any of this because she had political and community connections and they were worried they were going to lose advertising dollars. It took this trustee shouting “nigger” to a black parent seven years later before she was held to account. This trustee also suffered from dementia. She was the lead psychologist on the YRDSB’s student disciplinary panel. The YRDSB and her family tried to cover her illness up to avoid the board getting sued.
Shortly after the Keswick High incident I started questioning the boards budget. They withheld any information regarding the breakdown of the budget and refused to provide any details on money allocated towards student safety from the province, citing privacy laws. When questioned about policies surrounding student safety and trying to obtain documents from the board in that respect, they gave me a $900 quote for that information. In 2016 the province sent investigators in due to systemic racism, and fiscal mismanagement.
On the policy side of things when trying to tighten up the language regarding student safety and staff accountability in legislation your unions first agreed with the language, supported parents, and then took great exception to even the definition of student safety and having their members being held to account for NOT REPORTING instances of student violence in the classroom, once all landed in committee. I would provide you with testimony your unions provided to committees studying this, but the current government has recently removed that testimony from the parliamentary website. Legislation was introduced through Bills 13 and 14 in 2012 if you’d like to do more research on that.
To sidestep this, I was the lead advocate advocating for the Ombudsman to oversee the school sector. I eventually won that argument with the province only to find that office handcuffed, not able investigate systemic issues, and pretty much doesn’t investigate anything after this office received it’s expanded mandate to the education sector from Wynne.
When you speak of student safety this is just the tip of a very big iceberg, and no amount of money is going to fix this. Your union leadership knows this, and if this was truly about student safety and the lack of resources, your unions would be taking a greater issue with board accountability then they are right now, and they won’t because it exposes the lack of accountability at the staff level as well, which would become a part of the conversation if they take the boards to task on this. So the best thing they can do is fight for compensation and sick days citing a non-existent problem or lack of evidence to support because they refuse to allow their members to report on student violence, endangering all of you.
As a union member you hold voting power, and up an until union members hold their own leadership to account and not afraid to speak up against them, than you’re all in the same boat to me, and your credibility means very little when measuring facts against talking points.
Conservative political pundit and talk show host Tasha Kheiriddin stated in a CBC social media live chat this evening, that she believes the move by Premier Doug Ford to reduce Toronto City Council and interference in several municipal elections has less to do with saving money and fixing government, than it does trying to manipulate the outcome to ensure left leaning candidates do not get in. You can view Kheiriddin’s remarks below:
Doug Ford stood in front of cameras today, and used language I thought I would never see in Canada. Ford suggested that less democratic representation is needed to fix regional and municipal governments and save tax payers money. The problem with politicians – Ford stated – was that the more of them the less gets done. These are extremely dangerous words coming from a politician in government, and if he gets away with this than why stop at municipal governments? Is this going to be the start of all out dismantling of our democratic institutions by right wing extremists? Today was a horrible day for our democracy.
With the political weaponization of the #metoo movement for partisan purposes, and questions surrounding the media’s active role in it, CTV has filed a statement of defense against a lawsuit former Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown launched on the network. Brown claims that the network didn’t do it’s due diligence in following up with sources the network used to bring forth allegations of sexual misconduct against Brown. CTV has responded stating it acted lawfully when reporting on the allegations. There are several questions surrounding Brown’s departure and the credibility of the sources CTV has used.
You can read both statement of claims below.
Patrick Brown’s Statement of Claim
CTV’s Statement of Defense
The Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod told her federal counterparts last night that the province is withdrawing support for the resettlement of migrants entering into Canada from the US. The Ford Government instead is insisting that municipalities deal with the crisis. The federal government has earmarked an initial payment of $11 million to Ontario to help with the financial burden of the migrant crisis. It is unclear whether that money will flow to Ontario municipalities or whether the municipalities will be on the hook for the financial costs of resettlement. If the municipalities do pick up the tab for this crisis, it could result in substantial increases in municipal taxes which would more than offset any tax breaks the provincial government has coming down the pipeline.
What are migrants fleeing? Most of them have been waiting for Asylum in the US, and under Trump they fear they will be deported back to countries that are unsafe. Recently the US has backed out of the United Nations Human Rights Council. There have been significant concerns regarding separation of families seeking asylum in the US from violent and lawless countries in South America. Now there are concerns regarding the legal representation of these children.
Today my client was excited to push the elevator buttons on the way to her first deportation hearing. Afterwards I congratulated her on tying her shoes by herself. She’s 6 and @TheJusticeDept thinks she should only get a lawyer if she can pay for one https://t.co/e6fSuTKHIe
— Laura Barrera, Esq. (@abogada_laura) February 26, 2018
There are now reports circulating that some children are defending themselves in immigration court often times without a lawyer. An excellent dramatization on what these children face in the US:
The Trump administration is forcing children as young as toddlers to represent themselves in immigration courts pic.twitter.com/JTtEAooyQI
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) July 3, 2018
I find it very telling that the Minister responsible for Children and Social Services has displayed how gutless she is, and would not do everything in her power to show compassion for the families, instead she has taken a neo-conservative ideological view on the migrant crisis, and has effectively wiped the provinces hands clean of those seeking protection from an abusive regime, and exiting left stage with no comment.
UPDATE: 07/05/2018 6:17pm
Premier Doug Ford’s office has responded with the following, and it’s still not clear who will be picking up the costs related to resettlement:
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