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.