Fordwatch 2: the return of the binos

Susan Atkins  – 2022-10-19

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 21, 2022

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.

 

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

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. 

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

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.

 

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.

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.

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

 

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

 

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.

 

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.