Archive for category Kathleen Wynne
Mike Moffatt who is a director at the independent think tank Canada 2020, and an associate professor at the Ivey Business School, has come up with an interesting post comparing the platforms of each party in the Ontario election and how they compare to deficit projections. Moffatt’s deficit projections put the PC’s with the highest run deficits, with the Liberals in close second, and the NDP with the lowest deficit projections. These numbers include the recent correction of $1.4 billion/year the NDP has had to make on reserves.
Moffatt noted that there is a lot of unknowns when it comes to the PC platform, however right now – on the information they have currently provided to the public – the PCs seem to be running significantly higher deficits in their platform than the other two parties.
The latest poll from Abacus shows that the PC’s and NDP are now neck in neck with Ontario voters. The PC’s lead seems to have evaporated, and the progressive vote is moving from the Liberals over to the NDP.
The PC campaign has been plagued with controversy over this past week, from the selloff of user data from the 407 to help with PC fundraising, to PC Leader Doug Ford secretly attending a fundraiser outside of the election period and breaking election laws, to the York Regional Police and Election Ontario opening up investigations into the theft of data from the 407 ETR. It’s no wonder why to end his week Ford chose to stop in York-Simcoe that has been considered a “safe” riding for the PC’s.
Hoping to get a warm reception in York-Simcoe, Ford was met by several concerned residents over the backroom sell off of the Greenbelt which is still a very hot topic locally. You can view the exchange below:
— Robin Mae Legault (@MaeLegault) May 19, 2018
With election day two and a half weeks away, this election is shaping up to be one of change. Ontario voters don’t seem to be too interested in a right wing populist movement as we’ve seen with in the US with Trump. Earlier last year I discussed the real chances of the NDP shaping government and that this election will be shape up around the millennial vote which typically votes progressive left. Journalists are reporting that millennials seem to be quite engaged in this election:
Elections Ontario staff at my polling place who has worked on every fed/prov elxn in my riding since 2005 says she’s already noticed much higher number of first-time voters — young people and immigrants. Excellent.
— David Akin 🇨🇦 (@davidakin) May 19, 2018
Over the past year we’ve seen shifts in policy by both the PC’s and Liberals over to the left in expectation of this. The PC’s felt the party was too far left in its policies under previous leadership and staged a coup against former PC leader Patrick Brown, opting for a right wing populist Doug Ford. The Liberals had a chance to replace their leader Kathleen Wynne during an expected change election and chose not too. Both parties seem to have miscalculated, and in two and a half weeks we’ll find out how large of a miscalculation will be for both parties.
(Current Platforms in Ontario’s 2018 Election Puts Province At Risk of a Credit Downgrade)
Late Tuesday afternoon Moody’s downgraded the economic outlook for Ontario from stable to negative. In its press release Moody’s cited the recently tabled Liberal budget, and growing spending pressure from all parties that need to be addressed as the economy is expected to retract 1% by 2021. Moody’s also cites current household debt is a record high level, and that key interest rates are likely to rise as a result, making it expensive to service the debt, with retracted economic growth. If spending pressures do not ease post-election, it could mean that Ontario could face a credit downgrade in the very near future which would have a huge impact on the provinces ability to borrow money.
What does this mean for autism services? Over the past several years the autism community has been dealing with austerity through the Wynne Liberals. The last time Moody warned of an impending credit downgrade Wynne slashed special needs education budgets, tried to lower the age of behavioral therapy, and froze special services at home funding. Just in time for the election Wynne has stopped a lot of the austerity measures she put into place, and focused more investment in autism services in Ontario, with huge spending promises in other areas.
The NDP have released their platform, which is huge on spending rather than prioritizing. The NDP in their election platform have stated that they are willing to keep the status quo in Wynne’s investment in Autism Services. In fact NDP MPP Monique Taylor took to social media to try and calm the nerves of parents that the NDP would in fact keep investments the Liberals have made in place, however did not respond to questions regarding Moody’s economic outlook downgrade and what the NDP would do to shift priories to protect the disabled from austerity measures. Taylor who has championed parents’ plight with austerity in the past is currently being sued for human rights abuses in her own constituency office. NDP leader Andrea Horwath has stated in the past that she may take action against Ms. Taylor if a negative judgement is placed on Taylor’s conduct.
Doug Ford hasn’t released any policy platform at all.
With a credit downgrade almost certain in the near future with the current platforms, all three parties should clearly express to the people of Ontario exactly what their priorities are and where the cuts will be. The disabled should not be the punching bag of austerity. They’ve been through enough of that over the past few years. The cupboards so to speak are already bare. The tax payers deserve answers.
UPDATE 12:43: Finance Minister Charles Sousa has responded to the Moody’s downgrade:
— NEWSTALK1010 (@NEWSTALK1010) April 18, 2018
You can read the full Moody’s press release below:
A new poll from Forum Research shows a downward trend for the Ontario PC’s since the Patrick Brown resigned as party leader in January. It’s been long suspected that the far right social conservative movement in the party is to blame for putting pressure on Brown to resign. The poll also seems to suggest that there is an uptick in support for the Wynne Liberal’s as disenfranchised progressives from the PC party seem to be correlating around the Liberal’s election platform. This spells bad news for the current PC party leader Doug Ford because if an election were to be held today, he would win, but not with a majority mandate from voters and he doesn’t seem to be connecting with the majority of voters in the province a few months out from a general election.
(Andrea Horwath Looks Tone Deaf on Biggest Voting Demographic)
The decision by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to order striking college workers back to work was a decision that was based purely on politics geared towards getting the millennial vote ahead of provincial election. Wynne has seemingly backed the Ontario NDP into a corner on their union values, as the NDP fights back to stall back to work legislation. It’s an interesting position, considering Ontario students have long suffered under Liberal rule as a result of educational unions, and lack of oversight in the public educational sector for well over a decade. A lot of the banter between both the Liberals and NDP has less to do with Ontario’s students, and more to do with the millennial vote.
The NDP had all the time needed over the past decade to bring up serious concerns of Ontario students, that being the lack of supports and oversight in our public education system on special needs students, the lack of compliance with human and charter rights of students in the system, and the fact that many students attending college and university can’t even afford rent let alone pay for classes they haven’t received as a result of this strike. Instead the NDP decided to die on a hill of its traditional values of workers’ rights. As the leader of Ontario’s NDP party Andrea Horwath put it in the Ontario legislature today regarding standing up for their party’s values for Ontario workers over Ontario’s students:
“We do it before an election, and we do it after an election”
Horwath went on to read a letter from a Niagara College student regarding how this student felt about workers’ rights and how the NDP should stand up against back to work legislation. I attended Niagara College myself for journalism back in the 90’s where our professors and staff were also threatening a strike at that time. Thankfully a strike was averted; however had any strike been applied during my studies I would want to be compensated for that by the college. Nowhere in Horwath’s speech today or even from the Liberals has there been any talk of compensation for lost time in class as a result of this strike (which includes not just tuition but living expenses), and the rights of students to seek such compensation.
While Horwath’s speech focused in on the rights of college professors to earn a living, the rights of students to simply live with a roof over their head, and food on the table seemed to have been grossly disregarded. With the biggest voting demographic now up for grabs, will the Ontario NDP’s traditional values line up with those who out number financial donors to the party, and whether or not the Ontario NDP just shot itself in the foot with the millennials as a result of being completely tone deaf to the biggest voting demographic in Ontario. Wynne may be playing politics with respect to this back to work legislation; the NDP’s wounds seem to be rather self-inflicted.
(Ontario’s Ombudsman Paul Dube is Falling Short on The Provincial Education Crisis and May Not Be Following His Mandate)
With media reports of students across this province being under supported almost on a weekly basis now, frustration with parents who often approach the Ombudsman’s office on lack of compliance of board staff on the education act, to what looks to be systemic misappropriation of tax payers funds by school boards, to education sector unions demanding more money be spent on their members rather than kids – I thought it might be necessary to write into the Ombudsman’s office and find out why after two years of his mandate which is retroactive, there has been not one systemic investigation into the education sector on these issues in this province with a crisis growing by the day.
Below is a list of questions/concerns I sent into the Ombudsman’s communication department. Apparently they don’t have a canned response to handle any of the below, and I am told this has been moved up the ladder to the Ombudsman himself, and his staff. I’m told I should be receiving a response to this “soon” and I will post that response when it comes in.
I’m a syndicated blogger and contributor to a political and policy blog called Mind Bending Politics which follows political policy in Ontario and Canada Wide. I’ve been following the crisis in our education system now for over ten years. The predecessor to your office Andre Marin was quite adamant in getting this mandate to look into Ontario’s education sector since your office was fielding a number of complaints regarding the lack of compliance within the education act on a systematic level. I was one of the primary advocates to ensure that your office received a mandate through the province in investigating complaints within the education system.
Two years into your mandate, we’re not seeing a reduction of these issues outlined in the above article, in fact since your office has received your mandate on the educational sector, we’re seeing the lack of compliance within law grow exponentially across the province.
I have followed quite a number of complaints into your office, which should have sparked SORT investigations into the public education system, and the lack of compliance with the education act that is systemic and has been for some time.
I’ve received word by several parents that have written into your office that instead of actively investigating complaints on systemic non-compliance of the education act, you are telling parents that you are a last resort option and referring 100% of these cases I am aware of back to their respective boards where often these complaints end up being not resolved with respect to compliance with the law.
I have a few questions I would like to ask.
1. First, since your mandate the York Regional District School Board has and is the latest board to come under fire for non-compliance of the education act, and misappropriation of public funds, and systemic racism. It took a parents complaint into the human rights tribunal regarding racism before the province decided to step in. Can you explain how or why your office over the past two years were not aware of the situations within the York Regional District School Board that were later outlined by provincial investigators as being long term systemic issues across the YRDSB? Many parents within the YRDSB have written into this office regarding compliance with the education act, and your office has thus far refused to get involved. Can you further explain why that is?
2. Second, in your 2016/2017 annual report, this office gave praise to boards like the YRDSB who are setting up a self policing integrity office, and recommended that other boards do the same. Can you further explain why this office is advocating for a non-independent integrity review when your office has the mandate to independently and systemically investigate compliance with the education act? Why would an integrity office would be needed with your mandate, and why is this office endorsing a non-independent review of the integrity of board employees in the first place?
3. Since September 2017, I’ve seen almost weekly reports in the media and social media of special needs kids being sent home pre-maturely, not properly supported in the education system, lack of compliance with the education act on IEPs, a lack of hiring properly trained staff. Is this office monitoring those reports, and if so could you please offer comment as to why your office isn’t taking any public initiative to conduct a SORT investigation into special needs education in the province of Ontario?
4. Recently Janis Jaffe-White, co-ordinator, and Reva Schafer, resource parent, of the Toronto Family Network wrote an op-ed in the Toronto Star outlining concerns regarding the lack of compliance with the education act province wide for special needs students. I would like this office to further comment on this op-ed and what this office plans on doing to thoroughly investigate these issues with compliance with the education act both at the board, and ministerial level.
(CUPE Says Money Should Go To Its Members Rather Than Autistic Kids)
CUPE who is the union representing educational assistants (EA) in the province of Ontario released a press release this week in which it has lambasted the provincial government for piloting a project which will allow autistic kids to receive privately purchased therapy to be administered in public schools. CUPE says by doing this would open the door to privately funded education, and that its current members are not qualified to handle special needs students despite millions that have been negotiated in front line workers with the province over recent years.
As part of its revamp of Autism services in Ontario the provincial government is expected in the next few months to allow families a choice to purchase Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for kids with autism privately or go through publicly funded Centre’s. This move by the province to offer a private option paid for by the province is expected to reduce wait times for this needed therapy.
The move by the province to pilot a project to allow privately purchased workers to administer this therapy in school would be a necessity to the success of students receiving that therapy at the choice of the families, and lighten the load on parents who often have had to drive autistic kids to and from these appointments, often in separate cities in which the these children are being educated in and miss days at work. CUPE on the other hand thinks that the province should shell out that money to retrain EA’s across the province, rather than give parents a choice or say in their child’s therapy:
“We represent 13,000 Educational Assistants who work hard, with other Board employees and parents, to develop and deliver individualized educational programs to assist students with multiple challenges, including those with autism,” said Terri Preston, Chair of the CUPE Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee. “They are deeply concerned by any initiative that opens the door to the privatization of those critical services in our schools.”
Parents of children with special needs, including children with autism, have every right to expect they can walk into their local school and receive the services their children need, fully funded and publicly provided,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “They shouldn’t have to worry about securing outside funding, finding a private provider or paying out of their own pockets, to ensure their children succeed at school. That is the responsibility of the government and instead of just abdicating their role to private operators, they should be properly funding and providing all the necessary services students with special needs require.”
The ABA therapy these kids will be receiving will most likely be publicly funded as part of the new Ontario Autism Program. Terri Preston, Chair of the CUPE Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee essentially stated in this bizarre press release from CUPE that the union negotiated $52 million from the province for front line workers recently, who by admission of this press release are not qualified enough to be working with special needs kids in our public schools, and the government must pay for unqualified staff to get degrees in behavior analysis (which is a two year full time university course at Brock University):
“As education workers, we know students with special needs need more front-line staff support,” said Preston. “It’s why, in contract extension talks with the government, we negotiated $52 million over two years to increase front-line staff working with students with special needs. Even with those hard-won investments, more support is needed for students with a variety of complex needs and that’s why the government needs to finally conduct a long-overdue funding formula review.”
The press release gets a hell of a lot weirder as you read on. In its closing remarks after blasting the government for allowing parents a choice and complaining that its membership is under-qualified to support kids with special needs ended the press release with this statement:
“Many of us already have ABA training or incorporate ABA principles into our work with students,” said Laura Walton, an Educational Assistant who is also Vice-Chair of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Coordinating Committee. “Educational Assistants are constantly upgrading their skills and knowledge, often at their own expense, so any funded training opportunities are always welcome. We have been asking the government to ensure Educational Assistants, and all board employees who work to address the complex needs of our students, have access to an array of professional development opportunities, including ABA training.”
Wouldn’t working with privately funded ABA therapists which I would think would be the goal of the government here, be more beneficial to both their own members and the students they serve? Wouldn’t that give EA’s workplace experience in ABA working alongside these therapists? Where’s the outrage from CUPE that university or college programs educating future EA’s are not required under law to ensure an extensive ABA training? After a $52 million investment from the province in front line EA workers to support special needs, why is the province agreeing with CUPE to hire unqualified staff in a $52 million negotiation in the first place? In our view it should not be the position of the province or tax payer to front the bill for unqualified staff. Simply hiring qualified staff would be a better more economical option, or better yet CUPE can pick up that tab.
The problem that exists right now in the education system is one where there is money in the system, but it’s not getting to the students that need it. There’s no accountability in the education system right now. From this press release, it sounds that CUPE wants to be showered again with government coffers, while the rights of special needs kids in the system are yet again pitted against the needs of education sector unions. For its part, in its press release CUPE blames successive Liberal and PC governments for the lack of supports in our school system, yet falls short on criticizing the NDP who have yet to come out with a platform recognizing the lack of accountability the public education system is currently facing right now – the lives that have already been lost across the province to due education sector unions ignoring student mental health issues – the full time battles parents of kids of all levels have had to deal with as a result of these unions – yet we continue to shove money down the throats of this unaccountable system in hopes it gets better. $52 million CUPE negotiated went towards unqualified staff. When will the rights of all students in Ontario be put before union demands, and when will we have an accountable public education system?