Fordwatch 2: the return of the binos

Susan Atkins  – 2023-11-07

Doug Ford’s Tories are back pushing privatization and authoritarianism a little further down the road. At School Magazine, we don’t put much stock in reports that these are a kinder, more moderate bunch of politicians. We look at articles and give you the links. Think of this as the companion volume to Fordwatch 1 – still on our front page – and pray there’s not a Fordwatch 3.

Here you are – headlines, a bit of information and the links to go with them. They’re organized by topic. We’ll update as stories come in.

This is our bid to alleviate the effects of political amnesia. Hope you find it useful.

Please share widely. If you see an error, have a suggestions  or dispute some information, just send us an email at eatomag.18@gmail.com

Last Update: November 9, 2023

 

Susan Atkins is a retired teacher and creator of Fordwatch

 

Child Care

National child care plan doesn’t include businesses run for profit  October 5, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Karina Gould, federal minister of families, children, and social development: the Feds have every right to demand that Ontario government stick exactly to the non-profit agreement it signed regardless of the pressure put on them by Ontario’s for-profit daycare sector.

 

Budget

Budget highlights  March 23, 2023  Toronto Star

Conservative budget doesn’t deliver for Toronto. Overall, the budget increases spending by 1%, far below the level of inflation, which is at 6.8%. We will be seeing cuts in services.   March 24, 2023  Jessica Bell MPP

Balanced budget leaves Ontarians behind For millions of people, the fact that the provincial budget is now balanced—more or less—brings no joy. Because the cost of balancing the budget, by underfunding public services and ignoring the impact of inflation on low-income Ontarians, is high. April 10, 2023. CCPA

 

Education

Ford warns teachers they’d better be prepared to do unpaid work  June 30, 2022 Global News

  • As contract negotiations loom, says: “ My message to the teachers’ unions is one thing: those kids have to be back in school in September and they have to be back in school with extracurricular activities”

Indigenous science framework removed from Ontario elementary school curriculum July 2, 2022 Globe and Mail

  • Included removing sections emphasizing viewing science from both Western and Indigenous perspectives

Masking rules remain unchanged from end of last year, education minister says. August 9, 2022. CBC News

  • most health and safety requirements for the upcoming school year will remain unchanged from the end of the 2021-22 school year, including the voluntary use of masks.
  • Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa said masking is still necessary:“ We are in the middle of a health-care crisis…We have a nursing shortage. We have ERs that are closing regularly

Details to wait on province’s $225 million tutoring benefit August 10, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Government offered parents $225 million in direct payments rather than sending it to school boards
  • Amounts to a small amount of money per child that would be better spent on school resources

Ford government appointee resigns after calling education minister ‘incompetent’ August 26, 2022 Global News

  • Jamil Jivani was a prominent appointee who resigned after becoming openly critical of Stephen Lecce’s management of COVID-19 in schools

Education Minister Stephen Lecce pens article for Toronto Sun: “students have a right to learn” September 3, 2022 Toronto Sun

  • Misrepresenting education worker wage demands- likens them to “schoolyard bullying” and thus interferes with negotiating process
  • For more see School Magazine

Stephen Lecce tells schools to honour Queen’s funeral after the York board warns discussions could be “triggering” as students have different experiences  September 15, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Minister told schools to “ensure that the day’s activities include learning about the many contributions the Queen made to our province, country, and Commonwealth, and the accession of King Charles III to the throne.”

Doug Ford tells education workers who voted in favour of strike ‘don’t force my hand.’  October 6, 2022. CTV News

  • Said: “To the unions, the teachers unions: please don’t go on strike. Don’t force my hand,” Ford said. “I’m a strong believer in negotiating, but do not, do not go on strike.”
  • Said his word were not a threat to education workers

The Ontario government won’t divulge  progress in enrolling children in core autism therapies  September 25, 2022 Toronto Sun

  • Last update showed it was far off its own enrolment target.
  • Alina Cameron’s seven-year-old daughter has been on the wait list for government-funded therapy since Oct. 30, 201

Ontario rolls out new rounds of direct payments of up to $200 to parents of school-age children for help with learning recovery.  October 20, 2022 Toronto Star

  •  Green Party leader Mike Schreiner said the payments are a distraction from this government’s sorry record of funding cuts and failing contract negotiations with educational workers

Low marks on EQAO Math – with first tests after pandemic. October 20, 2022 CP24

  • Big drop from 2018-19 results
  • Students missed best part of 2 years of school and were a new curriculum (2020)
  • Stephen Lecce says teams from Ministry will go out to show teachers how to raise marks – all as teachers negotiate new contract

York Memorial as students walk out amid ‘constant chaos’, violence.  December 2, 2022. CP 24

  • Asked if he was planning to intervene, Ford responded that “we always leave that up to the school boards.” He added that it’s the federal government’s responsibility to “toughen up” the criminal code to make communities safer.

Ontario Public School Boards are calling on the province to lift a moratorium on school closures, and to complete the review started 6 years ago, as they are facing unsustainable funding deficits.  February 24, 2023. CP24

Ontario Budget 2023: Doug Ford pulled a sneaky move to quietly cut education. Despite the prospects of shortfalls across Ontario’s school system the budget has no additional funds earmarked for education leaving the province’s education system millions of dollars in the hole.    March 23, 2023  Press Progress

Ontario unveils new math, literacy plan. Karen Littlewood, president of OSSTF said they have not been consulted about the changes. April 16, 2023 Global News 

Ontario seeks to gain more control over school boards in student achievement, teacher education. School boards need to “refocus” on reading, writing and math, the province’s education minister said Monday as he introduced legislation that would give him greater control over boards. The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario said Lecce is trying to create a crisis in public education “where none exists.”  April 17, 2023  CBC news 

Ford government has made changes to allow education students to work as supply teachers before finishing their training.  August 1, 2023   

Elementary school teachers in Ontario to hold strike votes after a ‘lack of sufficient progress’ in negotiations with the Ford government.   August 14, 2023  Global News

Ontario government and the secondary school teachers’ union (OSSTF) agree to a process to avoid strikes. “This tentative agreement sets out a period of time to continue negotiating in good faith,” Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education said. “If a negotiated agreement can’t be reached, the parties will enter into binding interest arbitration.” OSSTF president Karen Littlewood underscored that this is not a tentative agreement, but it could help speed up negotiations, which have been dragging for 13 months. The proposal also guarantees that OSSTF members will receive a remedy for wages lost to Bill 124, struck down as unconstitutional by an Ontario court last year. ETFO, OECTA, and AEFO said the proposal is not something the boards can consider at this time as it would all but guarantee that key issues to learning and working conditions would not be addressed.    August 25, 2023   CP24

‘Parents must be fully involved in student’s decision to change pronouns,’ Ontario education minister says. The Toronto District School Board currently has a policy that protects the privacy of transgender and gender non-conforming students, recognizing that some children may not be open about their gender identity at home.   August 28, 2023   CTV News

Toronto secondary bargaining team doesn’t support deal to avoid strikes. The OSSTF Toronto teachers’ bargaining unit wrote in a memo to members “the ability to strike is one of the cornerstones of the labour movement and has been hard fought over the years.”    September 8, 2023  City News

Doug Ford takes aim at Ontario school boards over ‘indoctrinating’ students on gender identity. Speaking at Ford Fest Friday evening, the premier said it’s a parent’s right to “listen and make sure they are informed when their children make a decision.”  September 10, 2023 Toronto Star

Cross-country rallies against ‘gender ideology’ in schools meet with counter-protests Protesters accused schools of exposing young students to “gender ideology,” and said parents have the right to know whether their children are questioning their gender identity. Counter-demonstrators, meanwhile, accused protesters of importing United States culture wars into the country and trying to deny students important lessons about inclusion and respect for gender-diverse people. CTV News

Ontario reached a tentative agreement with the 3 500 education workers represented by the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario. ETFO, however, is holding votes for elementary teachers until October 17 to obtain a strike mandate in negotiations.  September 22, 2023     CTV News

Public high school teachers in Ontario head to arbitration to get a new contract.  October 26, 2023 CBC News

 

 

Environment

Ontario’s Ford government ‘putting us on a path to climate disaster,’ landmark court case hears. September 12, 2022  Toronto Star

  • Ontario government states it has no constitutional duty to “prevent future harm.”
  • The case claims that the Charter rights of Ontario’s youth and future generations are being breached by a law passed by the Progressive Conservatives in 2018 that weakened emission targets set out by the previous Liberal government. 

Fears for Ontario wetlands as province finalizes changes to evaluation system despite 15 000 comments from “public, environmental and conservation organizations, academic/scientific community, Indigenous communities, and municipalities.”    December 24, 2022. Toronto Star

  • The Auditor General of Ontario said the changes “will completely undermine the protection of wetlands in Ontario” while doing little to fix the housing crisis.

Leaders of Ontario’s opposition parties have asked the auditor general to probe the province’s moves to open up parts of the Green belt to developers.  January 12, 2023. Global News

Federal government steps into Greenbelt debate. The federal government will  battle the province over its plan to build housing in the Greenbelt by launching an environmental study of Rouge National Urban Park that could enable the use of Ottawa’s powers to halt developments, the environment minister suggested.   March 21, 2023   Toronto Star
The number of children with autism receiving publicly funded, needs-based core therapy in Ontario appears to have only now returned to the level it was at 5 years ago. October 15, 2023 CP24
Ontario’s Catholic teachers give union a strong strike mandate. Their OECTA vote comes a day after the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario announced that 95 per cent of its members had approved a strike if necessary. October 19, 2023 Toronto Star
Ontario elementary school education workers vote in favour of 4-year contract deal. October 23, 2023 Toronto Star

Government

Doug Ford re-elected as Ontario premier with majority government  June 2, 2022 CBC News

  • Wins 83 of 124 seats with 40.8% of popular vote
  • NDP drops to 31 MPPs – Andrea Horwath resigns as leader
  • Liberals gain 1 seat to 8 seats, not enough for party status – Stephen Del Duca resigns as leader
  • Greens retain their 1 seat

Ford appoints rookie MPP nephew to cabinet June 24, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Newly minted MPP, Michael Ford, is now minister for citizenship and multi-culturalism – no this is not a joke.

Graydon Smith, new minister of natural resources faces environmental charges June 28, 2022

CBC News

  • Alleged violation of province’s Endangered Species Act when he was mayor of Bracebridge.

Ford government turned down appeal to help City of Ottawa with ‘Freedom Convoy’

October 17, 2022 Toronto Star

  • From Emergencies Act inquiry:
  • refused the City of Ottawa’s early appeal for more resources and tougher laws to end last winter’s occupation of the national capital
  • Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told Ottawa mayor Jim Watson in a Feb.9 call that she would only deal with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) on requests for extra resources.

Highlights of the Provincial Auditors report: November 30, 2022 Global News

Ford slammed for change to hiring of Legislature’s sergeant-at-arms. December 2, 2022 Toronto Star 

  • Bill 51, quietly introduced Wednesday by Legislative Affairs Minister Paul Calandra, would see MPPs vote on who takes the role – a change the opposition says threatens the position’s independence.

Democracy dies when the public doesn’t act. Make your voice heard by demanding your locally elected councillor oppose John Tory and Doug Ford’s assault on democracy in Toronto. Join me:

Ford government’s process to select next chief justice violates separation of powers, Ontario judges warn, saying it violates basic democratic principles. December 16, 2022 Toronto Star

The Economic and Budget Outlook from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) reports Ford is on track to leave almost $20 billion on the table, deliberately underspending on health care, education, and justice – services that are vital to Ontarians  February 7, 2023 Ontario NDP

Ford’s Tories defeat Liberal bill to promote diversity on corporate boards.  March 1, 2023. Toronto Star

Ontario’s top court strikes down third-party election and spending rules introduced by Ford government as unconstitutional. A spokesperson for Attorney General Doug Downey said the government “ is disappointed with the outcome and will be appealing the decision.”   March 6, 2023  CBC News 

Future access to information could be at stake, as top court hears Doug Ford’s mandate letter appeal. Mandate letters traditionally lay out the marching orders a premier has for each of their ministers after taking office — and have been routinely released by governments across the country. Ford’s government, however, has been fighting to keep his mandate letters from the public since shortly after he was first elected nearly five years ago. April 18, 2023 CBC News

Ford wants to boost police ranks by lowering the education requirements for officers. Research suggests police officers with university or college degrees have greater communication, problem-solving, and social skills and are less likely to use force or get into disciplinary trouble.  April 25, 2023 Toronto Star

Ontario government says it’s removing a developer from an environmental advisory committee a month after appointing him. The appointment of Sajjad Hussain had been made three months after he settled in court allegations that he and his business partner misappropriated millions of dollars in a Markham townhouse development. October 7, 2023 Toronto Star

 

 

         The Greenbelt dumpster fire section

NEW!!! – The Greenbelt Scandal deserves its own section

Greenbelt Scandal

Ontario to cut into Greenbelt land for homes  November 4, 2022 Global News

  • Housing Minister Steve Clark promised he would not cut the protected area or do a land swap – last year

Green Belt land for urban development November 12, 2002 CBC News

  • On the same day the Ford government said it wants to open up parts of the Greenbelt, it also approved 14 000 hectares of land for urban development in municipalities in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area.
  • Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner said the plan is just an opportunity for a handful of land developers to turn millions into billions with the people of Ontario paying the cost in expensive sprawl and negative environmental consequences.

Ontario developers stand to profit from Ford Greenbelt flip-flop  November 17, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Tory supporters just happen to own land in previously untouchable areas of the Greenbelt which are to be turned over to development

10 Ontario communities hold ‘unprecedented’ rallies Sunday to protect the Greenbelt from Bill 23 December 4, 2022 Toronto Star

  • “We know that we’re losing farmland very quickly in Ontario, about 300 acres a day, and the land inside of the Greenbelt is mostly class one farmland; we can’t afford to lose any more of it,” Tim Gray, Environmental Defence executive director

Doug Ford’s trashing of the Greenbelt. Useful article in Canadian Dimension. December 7, 2022 Canadian Dimension

Ford government defeats attempts to get tough on gift-giving after controversial party and wedding of one of Ford’s daughters. The NDP bill had support from the Liberals and the Greens in the wake of the Ford government’s decision to open development on 7 400 acres of the Greenbelt.   May 11, 2023 Toronto Star

Ontario chiefs, a group representing 133 First Nations, call for Housing Minister Steve Clark to resign, add to calls for Greenbelt probe.   August 18, 2023  CP24

Fallout continues from chief of staff resignation amid Greenbelt controversy. In a resignation letter, Ryan Amato, former chief of staff to housing minister Steve Clark, said his role in the Greenbelt decisions has been “unfairly depicted.” The day after the Ford government announced Amato’s resignation, investigators from the RCMP said they were taking over a potential probe into the Greenbelt controversy.   August 23, 2023  Global News

Ontario reverses latest Greenbelt proposal in an area northwest of Toronto amid increasing scrutiny. The province initially said it planned to use a special zoning order to allocate more property to prominent developers for a housing project in Caledon. Hours before the town held a public meeting, a government spokesperson said the proposal would no longer include Greenbelt land.   August 25, 2023  Globe and Mail

Developer close to Doug Ford bought this farmland and got special permission to build ‘desperately needed homes.’ Then he sold a chunk for what appears to be a huge profit.   August 25, 2023  Toronto Star

Developers bought Hamilton Greenbelt property a month before Ontario revealed plans to open it up for housing. Hamilton city council has been adamantly opposed to the Greenbelt land swap, voting unanimously on August 18 to demand the province abandon its plans.   August 24, 2023 CBC News

Premier Doug Ford is gearing up to thwart the sale of land in Ajax that his Progressive Conservative government removed from the Greenbelt out of concern the owner, a company led by a China-based investor, may be trying to flip it. Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said “ other Greenbelt lands have already been flipped and profits have already been made.”   August 29, 2023  Toronto Star

Ford stands by Ontario Housing Minister after integrity commissioner finds he violated ethics rules in Greenbelt land swap leading to the interest of certain developers being improperly furthered.   August 30, 2023  Globe and Mail

The mysterious Mr. X and the Greenbelt scandal that won’t go away. The Integrity Report finds Mr. X stood to make $1 million if he could open up a parcel of land for development in Clarington. The report indicates Mr. X was not a registered lobbyist – by law he should have been.  September 1, 2023 City News 

Mysterious consultant known as Mr.X in Greenbelt report ID’d as former Clarington Mayor John Mutton. Integrity Commissioner J. David Wake found that Mr.X interacted with senior political staffers in the office of Housing Minister Steve Clark, arranged golf with them that apparently didn’t happen, a paid lunch that did and offered them tickets to a Toronto Raptors game. Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Shriner told CBC News the Greenbelt scandal is not about solving the housing crisis. He said ‘ it is clear the Premier is more focused on helping well-connected Ford insiders cash in millions and billions than helping ordinary Ontarians find a home they can afford.’ John Mutton denies he is Mr. X.    September 2, 2023  CBC News

Ontario Housing Minister Steve Clark resigns amid Greenbelt land swap controversy. Opposition parties say move is a 1st step, but Greenbelt lands need to be returned.    September 4, 2023   CBC News

Doug Ford vows to ‘re-evaluate’ Greenbelt development but is not pausing planned development on the 14 parcels at the centre of the $8.28 billion land swap scandal.The announcement follows the sudden resignation of Housing Minister Steve Clark and a subsequent cabinet shuffle. Critics warn that this ‘re-evaluation’ is a ‘sham’ review that could lead to more protected areas being opened up for development.   September 5, 2023  Toronto Star

Greenbelt protection could be removed from more land, Doug Ford’s new housing minister, Paul Calandra, says. Review of lands could open up more Greenbelt area for development   September 6, 2023  Toronto Star

Another Ford cabinet minister has resigned and is out of the Progressive Conservative caucus to sit as an independent MPP over the growing $8.28 billion Greenbelt land swap scandal. Kaleed Rasheed was the minister of public and business service delivery, who told provincial integrity commissioner J. David Wake the wrong dates for a trip to Las Vegas three years ago where he socialized with a developer. September 20, 2023  Toronto Star

Another Ford cabinet minister resigned and is quitting the Progressive Conservative caucus to sit as an independent MPP over the growing $8.28 billion Greenbelt land swap scandal. Kaleed Rasheed was the minister of public and business service delivery, who told provincial integrity commissioner J. David Wake the wrong dates for a trip to Las Vegas three years ago where he socialized with a developer. September 20, 2023. Toronto Star

Ford reverses Greenbelt decision. Premier Doug Ford is scrapping his controversial land swap in a desperate bid to salvage his sputtering Progressive Conservative government.   September 21, 2023 Toronto Star

McNaughton is third Ford cabinet minister to resign in past 3 weeks. Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced on Friday he is stepping away from politics after accepting a job in the private sector. McNaughton is the third minister to resign from Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet this month, though he said his departure is not connected to the unfolding Greenbelt development scandal. September 22, 2023 CTV News

‘Greenbelt just the tip of the iceberg’: Scrutiny turns to boundary changes benefiting developer who bought tickets to Ford stag party. Land south of Hamilton was moved into the city’s urban boundary on the same day as the Greenbelt land swap. That landowner, developer, Sergio Manchia, purchased at least two properties put into Hamilton’s urban boundary in 2021 and 2023.   September 25, 2023  CP 24  

RCMP launches criminal investigation into Doug Ford’s Greenbelt land swap October 10, 2023 Toronto Star

Ontario Government tables bill to return lands it removed back to the Greenbelt. The legislation comes days after RCMP probe was announced.         October 16, 2023 CBC News

Ontario to review municipalities’ Greenbelt costs and compensate them for costs they incurred while working on the now reversed Greenbelt land removals in their communities. October 23, 2023 Toronto Star

Ontario reverses move to expand urban boundaries into farmland, making another retreat amid an RCMP probe of its scrapped plan to build housing on the province’s protected Greenbelt.   October 23, 2023 Globe and Mail

 

 

Health

Unions call on Ontario to act amid health-care staffing shortages, ER closures July 21, 2022 CBC News

  • Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and SEIU Healthcare say province should repeal Bill 124 that limits wage increases in public-sector contracts to one per cent a year

Ford says he’s doing everything in his power to add more healthcare workers but won’t repeal wage restraint legislation or increase a retention bonus for nurses. August 3, 2022 CityNews

Ontario Health Minister doesn’t rule out some privatization of health care services. August 10 2022 Globe and Mail

Ontario cuts funding by 85% for online mental health therapy program introduced during pandemic  August 12, 2022  CBC News

  • Program can now offer 9 000 spots – down from 60 000

Ontario to fund more private clinic surgeries   August 18, 2022 CBC News

  • More of a role for privately delivered but publicly covered services,
  • Government will invest more to increase surgeries in pediatric hospitals and existing private clinics covered by OHIP
  • Also considering increasing the number of procedures performed at “independent health facilities.”

Ontario is replacing the five-day isolation period for COVID-19 with a 24 hour stay-home rule

August 31, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Raises concerns change will fuel spread of the virus with hospitals already facing a capacity crunch

Calls for mandated masking November 10, 2022  Toronto Star

  • During an August 31 press conference- the last one he’s done, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health Kieran Moore said a requirement for masking would be introduced if respiratory infections were having severe effects on the health system.
  • A growing chorus of voices say the moment has arrived in light of paediatric hospitals confronting record-long waits, canceling surgeries, and transferring kids far from home.

Province’s chief medical officer urges masks and vaccines as surge in viral illnesses continues to slam children’s hospitals. November 14, 2022 Ottawa Citizen

  • Many health officials say it is clear that simply urging people to wear masks is not working.
  • They are calling for Dr Moore to bring back province-wide mask mandates.

Ford unmasked at question period a day after Ontario’s top doctor urges use of masks. November 15, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Health minister Sylvia Jones said masking is “a personal choice.”
  • Premier Ford and most
  • of his caucus were not masked and rejected calls for mass advertising campaigns on masking and getting flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Interim New Democrat leader Peter Tabuns called this “a total absence of leadership.”

Ford slammed for not hiking health-care spending in fall economic update.   November 15, 2022  KW Record

  • The cornerstone pledge of the economic statement was an extension of a 5.7 cents a litre cut to the gasoline tax through the end of next year, which will cost the treasury $1.2 billion

Ontario top doctor goes maskless at party while Ford says masking is a personal choice.   November 18, 2022 Toronto Sun

  • Days earlier Dr Kieran Moore had “strongly recommended” Ontarians wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

Ontario asks family medical clinics to work nights, weekends to help overwhelmed hospitals. November 23, 2022 CBC News

  • Recent study by The Canadian Institute for Health Information found the average overtime hours by health-care workers across the country was the highest in more than a decade.

 Ford government under fire after Red Cross asked to help at major Ottawa children’s hospital. December 5, 2022 Toronto Star

  • MPP Robin Martin suggested help from the Red Cross was part of the plan. “It’s a chilling indictment of this government’s management,” Dr.  Adil Samji, an emergency room physician and Liberal MPP, told a news conference.

Ontario promised $5K to pandemic-weary nurses but many of them say the money never arrived and the government is not providing any information about how long the process will take.  December 7, 2022 CBC News

Ontario to swap original brand-name drugs with cheaper ‘biosimilar’ drugs for seniors, people on social assistance despite concerns the switch could throw some patients off track.  December 21, 2022. National Newswatch

Ford’s private surgery centre proposal to clear a backlog of surgeries from the COVID-19 pandemic will hurt hospitals, doctor’s college warnsJanuary 12, 2023 Toronto Star

Ontario expanding number and range of surgeries offered at for-profit clinics to clear backlog. January 16, 2023  CBC News 

  • NDP leader Marit Stiles accused Ford of manufacturing a staffing crisis in hospitals via his wage-restraint law and “following the privatization playbook to a tee.”

Province releases health-care plan that includes $30 million to create new interprofessional primary care teams. February 2, 2023 Durham Radio News

  • Ontario NDP Health critic, France Gélinas, says the plan is part of the province’s continued push to privatize health care after creating a crisis through underfunding.
  • Ontario Nurse’s Association states that the Ontario government’s plan for “convenience” is missing safety and quality.

OHIP-covered eye services for many people aged 65 and up will be reduced – result of a new deal between Premier Doug Ford’s government and the Ontario’s Association of Optometrists.   March 23, 2023   Toronto Star

Ontario doctors blast province for ending health-care for uninsured residents. OMA president, Dr Rose Zacharias: “ the abrupt discontinuation of this program, we believe, could be quite detrimental to the livelihood of some of our patients,” particularly for marginalized and vulnerable patients.   March 25, 2023. Global News

Lack of Ontario long COVID strategy risks care, may lead to little or no support for patients, internal Ministry of Health documents warn.   May 3, 2023 CBC News

Ford government passes law to allow more surgeries in private clinics, a move critics say will sabotage medicare.   May 8, 2023  CBC News

Critics blast Ontario government for inaction on Minden ER closure set for June 1.   May 25, 2023 Global News

Ontario won’t declare intimate partner violence an epidemic following inquest. June 28, 2023  CP24

Ford government to open clinic at site of shuttered cottage-country ER – but without doctors. The plan is to have the clinic open on weekends starting June 30.   June 20 2023. Toronto Star

Ontario’s largest children’s treatment centre makes cuts to support for autistic youth. “The needs-based Ontario Autism Program is changing the way many autism services are delivered…” the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services said.   July 5, 2023  CBC News

Thousands attend Queen’s Park to protest health care privatization in Ontario  September 25, 2023  CTV News

There’s a high price to pay for hospitals that need agency nurses who are paid more than staff nurses. Toronto’s University Health Network paid $915 786 for temporary nurses in 2018-2019. Now, it’s jumped to $10.9 million in 2022-2023. “ It is an insidious privatization of the system,” argues Ivy Bourgeault, a researcher at the University of Ottawa. October 15, 2023 CTV News

 

Housing

Ontario increases amount landlords can raise rents by highest level in a decade

June 20, 2022 CP 24

  • More than doubling annual rate increase to 2.5%

No fines issued by Ontario regulator for developer price hike despite promised crackdown nine months ago   August 25, 2022  CBC News

  • This comes 9 months after province pledged to crack down on developers who cancel contracts or demand more money from buyers

Ford’s housing bill limits protection of watersheds and green spaces, conservation authorities warn.  October 28, 2022  CBC News

  • The bill changes the powers conservation authorities have to limit development.
  • The government said the bill will mean there will no longer be a need to consider factors like pollution or land conservation when approving building permits.

Ontario municipalities are concerned that parts of the province’s new housing legislation may actually hamper growth and download excessive burdens to them and taxpayers. October 26, 2022  CTV News

  • Bill introduced by Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark would freeze, reduce, and exempt fees developers pay, fees that are important for municipalities to pay for services such as roads, community centres, and transit.

GTA mayors call for temporary halt in new housing bill  October 31, 2022  Toronto Star

  • Mayors of Oakville, Milton, and Burlington worried about parts of the bill that removes environmental oversight at key stages planning new developments.

Ford’s housing bill threatens Toronto’s budget and affordable housing goals, city manager warns.  November 18, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Shelter and affordable housing programs are at risk under Bill 23, which would also take an estimated $200-million from the city’s embattled coffers.

Ontario Green Party asks integrity commissioner to investigate Greenbelt development.  November 29, 2022 CTV News

Ontario’s latest housing plan encourages sprawl. The plan allows cities to spread out housing developments further from their cores and would scrap the requirements that some regions build at least half of new homes on land that already has municipal infrastructure, and it lowers density targets for new developments on unbuilt lands.   April 7, 2023  CBC News

Ford cancels ‘clueless’ plan to allow housing on farmland. The climb down followed a backlash from more than a dozen farm groups, including the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, and beef and dairy farmers. June 1, 2023  Toronto Star

Developer guests at Doug Ford family wedding got fast-track zoning approvals from government. The Ford government has handed out MZOs at an unprecedented pace: at least 110 of them since 2019. By contrasts, previous Liberal governments issued just 18 between 2003 and 2018. In fact, a tally by the Ontario NDP finds that just four guests at a Ford family wedding reception benefited from as many MZOs as previous Liberal governments issued in total in 15 years. October 30, 2023  CBC News

Labour

170 safety inspectors on strike after contract talks break down  July 21, 2022 CBC News

  • Key issues in negotiations include wages, benefits, understaffing and improved accountability for public safety standards and practices

Ford government offers lowest-paid school staff yearly 2% wage hike and others a 1.25% increase. August 15, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Laura Walton, president of CUPE’s Ontario School Boards’ Council of Unions: proposal of $800.00 on average per year in the face of skyrocketing inflation is not going to pay the rent, put food on the table, or address the staffing issues that are rampant in Ontario schools.
  • Government is pushing 2% increase for workers earning below $40K annually and 1.5% for those earning more than that

Constitutional challenge of Ontario’s wage-cap bill, Bill 124, begins in court  September 12, 2022  Global News

  • Groups representing thousands of public-sector employees argue the bill violates a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that protects meaningful collective bargaining.

Ontario CUPE education workers vote 96.5 per cent in favour of a strike mandate October 3, 2022 CP24 News

  • Laura Walton, the president of CUPE’s Ontario School Board Council of Unions: workers can’t afford to strike and lose those wages, but they also can’t afford not to, after years of wage freezes and one per cent increases to already low pay.

Union representing 55 000 education workers in Ontario has requested a no-board report after reaching an impasse in bargaining with the province October 7, 2022 City News

  • The no-board report starts the process for a potential strike by librarians, custodians, and administration staff across the province in less than three weeks time

CUPE education workers: mediated talks between Ford government and union break down  October 19, 2022  Global News

  • sets stage for possible strike in early November 2022

Ford government plans legislation to pre-empts strike by CUPE, imposing a contract on 55 000 school support staff. October 30, 2022  Toronto Star

  • Imposing contracts has proven costly in the past. Courts ruled in favour of teacher unions saying Bill 115 violated constitutional rights of education workers.

Tories introduce Bill 28 “Keeping Students in School Act” – call legislature in at 5 a.m. October 31,2022  Global News

Tories looking for speedy passage

Education workers announce mass walkout amid anti-strike legislation. October 31, 2022. CTV News

  • Ford Government indicates it will invoke the notwithstanding clause to protect the bill from legal challenges.
  • Ontario CUPE president Fred Hahn said the government’s intention to impose a collective agreement is a “monstrous overreach.”

Ford government pushes through bill to ban CUPE education workers’s strike. November 3, 2022  CBC News

  • Imposes a contract on workers
  • Includes steep fines to workers and unions if they don’t comply  – $4 000 per worker; $500 000 for CUPE – per day

Ford government calling the Ontario Labour Relations Board to officially declare Friday walkout by 55 000 education workers illegal November 4, 2022 CTV News

‘The government blinked’: Union to end education walkout after Ford promises to repeal strike law. Mark Hancock, national president of CUPE, said that Bill 28 was a “regressive attack that united the labour movement like never before.”  November 7, 2022  Toronto Sun

Legislation banning education worker strike repealed. November 14, 2022. Toronto Sun

  • Sides in the dispute headed back to negotiating tables
  • Ford government has rendered Bill 28 gone – as though it never existed – important to remember that Ford did still use the “notwithstanding clause.”

Strike deadline inches closer for Ontario educations workers (CUPE) after talks break down again.   November 17, 2022 CP24

  • CUPE said the two sides agreed on a 3.5 per cent wage increase, but the union is still fighting for higher staffing levels

Ontario schools set to open after CUPE reaches a tentative deal, in spite of not securing staffing level guarantees.  November 21, 2022 Global News

  • OSBCU educators asked for more maintenance staff, ECEs in kindergartens, EAs in classroom and librarians for schools
  • Government wouldn’t put up the reported $100 million cost

Ford government to appeal court’s decision that struck down Bill 124.  November 29, 2022 CP 24

Doug Ford’s controversial wage-cap law, Bill124, ruled unconstitutional. Justice Markus Koehnen wrote in an 80-page decision that ‘Ontario was not facing a situation in 2019 that justified an infringement on Charter rights.’  November 29,2022  Toronto Star 

Ford government appeals Ontario court decision striking down Bill 124.  December 29, 2022 CBC News

  • Ontario Federation of Labour says it’s outraged by the decision to appeal.
  • Ontario Association of Nurses called on the Premier to stop attacking nurses and health-care workers. The union for health care workers SEIU Healthcare responded by saying the government’s decision to appeal further undermines health care in Ontario.

 Ford says bill 124 ‘doesn’t exist’ as his government appeals court decision striking it down.  January 11, 2023 CP24

Hundreds gathered at Queen’s Park to protest the Ford government following the return of the legislature. February 25, 2023  CityNews

  • The protest was organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario, alongside several advocacy and education groups.

Bargaining for Ontario hospital nurses enters mediation in what the nurses call a “last-ditch effort” to reach a negotiated settlement.   March 1, 2023 Globe and Mail

Nurses march in Toronto to demand better wages, staffing, and working conditions March 2, 2023 CBC News

Ontario Nurses’ Association says bargaining with hospitals has broken down with arbitration set for early May.  March 3, 2023  CBC News

Ontario hospital nurses awarded additional pay after Bill 124 struck down. Arbitrators have now awarded the nurses an additional 0.75 per cent wage increase for the first year starting April 1st, 2020, an additional one per cent for the following year and an additional two per cent for the final year.  April 28, 2023 CBC News

Ontario hospital nurses awarded average raises of 11% over two years, union says, with the arbitrator citing a staffing crisis and high inflation.   July 20, 2023 CP 24

 

Leadership

Questions arise around policing at Ford election campaign stop in Hamilton July 18, 2022 CBC News

  • What policing authorities were involved in decision to remove demonstrators from Hamilton airport

Ontario government refuses to say how many taxpayer-funded hours its lawyers have spent fighting to keep Doug Ford’s mandate letters secret August 31, 2022 CBC News

  • Despite being ordered to release the figure to CBC Toronto by the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC)
  • Mandate letters outline a minister’s orders from premier’s office and have been routinely released to the public
  • since coming to power in 2018 and issuing its first such letters, the Ford government has had Crown lawyers appeal IPC and court decisions ordering their release

Ford accused of hiding during convoy protest  October 18, 2022 Toronto Star

  • accusation made by Justin Trudeau was part of a conversation between him and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, tabled during the Emergencies Act inquiry
  • Trudeau said: “Doug Ford has been hiding from his responsibility on it for political reasons,”
  • Ford admitted to being at his cottage on February 5 2022 as Ottawa prepared for state of emergency

Ford and former solicitor general Sylvia Jones summoned to testify at Emergencies Act inquiry after refusing repeated voluntary requests October 24, 2022. CTV News

  • Summons came after multiple requests to appear – though Ford says he was never asked  to do that
  • The two are challenging the summons

No-shows Doug Ford and Sylvia Jones draw opposition fire over Emergencies Act inquiry rebuff. October 25, 2022 Toronto Sun

  • Ford and Jones were no-shows at question period on Tuesday. MPP Paul Calandra said “ it’s a policing matter, not a political matter.”

Judge rules Ford, Jones immune from testifying at Emergencies Act inquiry. Ford’s office declined to comment after the decision came. At a news conference, Ford repeated that the inquiry is a federal matter, not a provincial one.  November 7 2022. CTV News

Ford abandoned Ontario’s second-largest city when it was overrun by the so-called “Freedom Convoy”, Emergencies Act report finds February 17, 2023 Toronto Star

Justice Paul Rouleau noted that:

  • Repeated efforts by Ford and other ministers to shift responsibility for dealing with the protest in Ottawa onto the Federal government led to political and policing breakdowns
  • Caroline Mulroney ducked meeting requests with her federal counterparts
  • Ontario’s then solicitor general Sylvia Jones declined early briefings with police and refused to engage in trilateral talks with other levels of government
  • The province is ultimately responsible for effective policing in Ottawa
  • Ford and Jones not testifying before the inquiry left the commission at a disadvantage

NDP files complaint over Doug Ford family events linked to developers. February 23, 2023   City News

  • A number of developers who attended the wedding and a stag-and-doe party for Ford’s daughter have received favourable minister’s zoning orders and at least one has benefitted from recent policy changes related to Greenbelt land removals.

Insiders, government appointees also attended Doug Ford’s daughter’s wedding February 23, 2023. Toronto Star

They benefited from Doug Ford’s Greenbelt land swap. Now these developers are going to court to dodge the Attorney General’s questions.   Michael Rice and Silvio De Gasperis have separately filed court applications to block or delay the auditor general’s order they be interviewed under oath and hand over relevant records. July 11, 2023 Toronto Star

Ford government only offered King’s Counsel title to Tory ex-Attorney Generals.  July 13, 2023  Toronto Star

Ford’s Tories try to sway Ottawa voters after accusations of neglect during the so-called Freedom ConvoyThat’s why the premier has gathered most of his MPPs there for a caucus retreat before next Thursday’s by-elections in Kanata-Carleton and Scarborough-Guildwood and why he announced $330 million in new province-wide pediatric funding at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario on Wednesday. July 20, 2023  Toronto Star

Long term care

Advocates, critics warn Ontario’s planned changes to long-term care are a violation of patient rights. August 19, 2022 CBC News

  • Long-Term Care minister Paul Calandra introduced a new legislation to allow hospitals to transfer patients awaiting a bed in their preferred LTC home to be placed in a “temporary” home without their consent.  Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, a long-term care advocate, called the legislation (Bill 7) “morally repugnant.”

Ford government pushes hospitals to bill patients who won’t leave when cleared for long-term care August 24, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Confusion about what fees would be charged and when- opposition parties raise concerns about the prospect of elderly patients being charged the full daily uninsured rate for a hospital bed.

Ontario passes motion to skip public hearings on long-term care legislation that would allow hospital patients to be transferred to a nursing home without their consent  August 29, 2022  CTV News

  • Legislation won’t be considered by legislative committee or in public hearings

Seniors told to leave when discharged or pay $400 per day  September 14, 2022 Toronto Sun

  • Seniors in hospital waiting for a preferred nursing home bed can be asked to move to another facility up to 70 kilometres away in southern Ontario and up to 150 kilometres away in northern Ontario, otherwise they will be charged $400 a day.

Critics slam Ford government’s plan for long-distance placements in nursing homes not on senior patients’ preferred lists. September 15, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Ontario Long-Term Care Association has repeatedly warned that many facilities remain short-staffed in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Ontario Health Coalition, has had calls from families who are terrified their elders will be moved far away, making it more difficult to visit them and leaving them isolated in their final months and years.
  • According to new provincial guidelines, the hospital patients sent long distances to nursing homes not on their preferred lists are responsible for arranging and paying for their own transportation

Ontario quietly changes LTC rules; visitors and caregivers no longer have to mask in resident rooms  October 19, 2022  CBC News

  • Limit of four visitors per resident at one time has been removed
  • Residents no longer have to be tested for COVID-19 when they return from an absence
  • Rules changed on Friday but there was no public announcement.

Temporary staffing agencies overcharging Ontario long-term care homes  February 14, 2023 Global News 

  • Charging on average double and sometimes more than triple the regular hourly rate of nursing and personal support worker staff.

Ontario LTC inspection system fell apart during 1st COVID-19 wave. In a new report, Ombudsman Paul Dubé revealed there were no inspections in the province’s long-term care homes for seven weeks, and no reports issued for two months. That left facilities without proper oversight in a time when hundreds of residents died in a matter of weeks. The ministry’s lack of planning and preparedness was “unreasonable, unjust and wrong’, the report states.   September 7, 2023  CBC News 

 

Transportation

Mayor Tory’s pitch to have province take over responsibility for Gardiner Expressway and DVP shot down. December 3, 2022 

  • Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney said the government will not upload the highways or impose tolls on any Ontario roads.  CBC News

Metrolinx has ‘no idea’ when Eglinton Crosstown will open. December 9, 2022 CTV News

  • The union representing transit workers in Canada voiced their support for an inquiry into the project that is now $1 billion over projected budget, saying Metrolinx and the Ford Government have failed to respond to the LRT delays.

 Ministry of Transportation  quietly  considering expanding the Bradford Bypass  December 16, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Freedom-of-Information documents obtained by the Toronto Star indicate proposal would go from 4 to 8 lanes, “doubles the amount of land taken out, it doubles the impact to source water,” says Margaret Prophet, executive director of The Simcoe County Greenbelt Coalition.
  • The original estimate of $800 million is predicted to land between $2 and $ 4 billion, according to Ontatrio’s Auditor General.

Doug Ford’s government is falling short of its promises to conduct annual inspections of every long-term care home in Ontario and to boost the ratio of inspectors to homes. Minister of Long-Term Care  Stan Cho is defending the government’s system. “It’s not just the volume of inspections that are important, it’s the quality of inspections,” Cho said. October 20, 2023 CBC News

Ontario is asking the courts to prevent the federal government from using the impugned Impact Assessment Act to stop the province from moving ahead with highway 413 and Ontario Place construction.  October 24, 2023  Toronto Star

 

Urban affairs

City of Toronto launched legal challenge of 2020 Ontario law that allows tenants to be evicted without a hearing if they fall behind on arrears repayments July 20, 2022 Toronto Star

  • Argues “Protecting Tenants and Strengthening Community Housing Act” is unconstitutional and facilitates accelerated evictions”

Ontario introduces ‘ strong mayor’ legislation with an eye to provincial priorities.  August 10, 2022 Global News

  • Mayors of Ottawa and Toronto would have power to override city councils
  • Based on provincial priorities
  • Not mentioned during the election campaign

 Tories ram through ‘ strong mayor’ law for Toronto, Ottawa September 8, 2022 Toronto Star

  • NDP MPP Jeff Burch: Tories are “pretending that a bill has to do with housing during the housing crisis.”
  • Green Leader Mike Schreiner “nothing in the bill actually is going to lead to more affordable housing being built.”

Ontario orders Hamilton to expand urban boundary. November 4, 2022  Hamilton Spectator

  • Ford government rejects city’s plan Friday to freeze its urban boundary and grow within its existing footprint.

Ford gives “strong mayors” the antidemocratic power to ram through bylaws deemed a provincial priority with the support of one-third of council. November 16, 2022 Toronto Star

Ontario wants greater grip on regional governance, says it needs to cut red tape to battle housing crisis.  November 16, 2022 CBC News

  • Better Municipal Governance Act would allow the housing minister to appoint regional heads of council in Niagara, Peel, and York regions for the 2022-2026 council term and would give “strong mayors” greater powers.
  • The act has been slammed as an “ affront to democracy” by the opposition.

The Ontario government has agreed to cover one-third of Toronto’s budget shortfall and to compensate for revenue losses caused by the province’s new housing bill. November 30, 2022 Globe and Mail

  • But first, the province wants an independent audit of municipal finances, focused on reserve funds and development charge administration. Mayor Tory says “ these reserves represent financial sound management and good planning.”

Mayor Tory’s pitch to have province take over responsibility for Gardiner Expressway and DVP shot down. December 3, 2022 CBC News

  • Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney said the government will not upload the highways or impose tolls on any Ontario roads.

Ford says municipalities can make up revenue loss from development charges with ‘waste’ December 1, 2022 CTV News

  • Reneges on agreement that province would make up for revenue lost by cutting development charges to developers

Plans for Ontario Place include a five-level subterranean parking lot for more than 2 000 vehicles and  chopping down more than 800 trees to make way for a private spa complex   December 8, 2022  Toronto Star

  • Local councillor Ausma Malik says ‘investing $300 million in public funds to subsidize a private spa and waterpark and accompanying parking structure is a terrible use of taxpayer dollars.’

Ford  interfered in Metrolinx tree removal communications. It directed Metrolinx to leave two Toronto New Democrat MPPs off a notice about the removal of trees in their riding, casting doubt on the independence of the transit agency. Transport Minister Caroline Mulroney also asked Metrolinx to remove from construction notices the estimated number of trees to be taken down.   February 9, 2023 Toronto Star

Candidates slam Ford for interfering in Toronto’s election – calling on voters not to support any candidate who would decrease the police budget.   March 28, 2023. CP24

The city council in Pickering unanimously rejects the province’s request that the city approve a minister’s zoning order (MZO) for the redevelopment of Orchard Villa, a long-term care home where the Canadian Armed Forces were briefly deployed during the COVID-19 crisis. The army reported poor infection-control practices, and abuse and neglect of residents.   May 3, 2023 Globe and Mail

Ford government orders audits in clash with cities over development fees in response to municipal governments’ concerns that their development-related charges could be dramatically reduced by Premier Doug Ford’s housing policy changes.   May 4, 2023 Toronto Star

Ontario to break up Peel Region by 2025 but mayors signal it could be a nasty divorce.   May 18, 2023 CBC News

Ontario expanding ‘strong mayor’ powers to 26 cities across the province. “This is about Ford giving himself more power to compel municipalities to create expensive urban sprawl…” said NDP Housing critic Jessica Bell.   June 16, 2023  CBC News

Doug Ford’s cabinet quietly approves the ‘winding up’ of Ontario Place Corporation, moving forward the controversial redevelopment of the provincial waterfront park.   June 30, 2023  Toronto Star

Toronto must get its ‘fiscal house in order’ and Ottawa will have to step up…because Queen’s Park has done enough, says Premier Doug Ford.   This is despite the city facing a $1.5 billion budget deficit.  June 29, 2023  Toronto Star

Ontario Place spa developer to shrink size of building but concerns remain about province’s transparency. “…Ford’s Conservatives… continue to hide the details of this 95-year lease to give away some of the most valuable parkland to a private corporation,” Spadina Fort York MPP Chris Glover wrote in a statement.   August 22, 2023  CBC News

The NDP says a Freedom of Information Act request from Infrastructure Ontario shows the government had plans to build a parking garage for the Therme Spa at Ontario Place two years before the public knew of the structure. “ It suggests that Mr. Ford gifted a publicly funded half-billion-dollar parking garage to Therme and hid it from the public,” Marit Stiles said. October 16, 2023 City News

Auditor general to probe Ford government’s Ontario Place redevelopment. The province has resisted calls to answer a range of questions around its plans to redevelop Ontario Place.   November 3, 2023 Global News