Ford government economic updates and budgets

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Ford government economic updates and budgets

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli presented the Ford government's fall economic update yesterday. As expected, it was full of cuts and tax deductions, with little for anyone but the rich. 

Doug Ford was elected on a paper-thin compendium of headline promises, with no accounting of how he’d deliver on those or balance the books. And since then he’s done little more than settle political scores and cancel programs and policies associated with the previous Liberal government. ...

Fedeli called it “a plan for the people,” but it’s more of a grab-bag of measures that will benefit some businesses and people while leaving the biggest questions facing Ontario still unanswered. 

The government is giving small businesses a tax break and has forecast the potential of more breaks for businesses down the line. It’s rolling back a planned tax increase on the wealthiest Ontarians and cutting income tax for the lowest-paid workers. But given how little tax they pay now they’ll end up with far less money in their pockets than they would have if Ford hadn’t cancelled a planned raise in the minimum wage to $15. The province is ending rent control for new units, hoping to encourage developers to build more rental apartments. But that will inevitably result in higher rents at a time when tenants already face an affordability crisis.

They’ve slashed the independent watchdogs for the environment, vulnerable children and francophones. And they’re eliminating public per-vote funding for political parties, which is likely to hurt the opposition parties more than the Progressive Conservatives. It all amounts to less oversight and a less feisty opposition. 

But where will Ford’s promised $6 billion in efficiencies come from? When will the government eliminate the deficit and how? And what is Ontario’s plan to fight climate change? Fedeli’s update kicks all that down the line with a warning that “the road ahead is not an easy one.”

And to help it make the more substantial cuts, when they inevitably do come, seem more necessary the government purposely made that road more difficult. It artificially raised the provincial deficit from the Wynne government’s $6.7 billion to $15 billion, largely through adopting a different accounting method for public sector pension assets and money borrowed to reduce electricity bills. It’s raised the dragon so it can slay the dragon. Or, in Ford-speak, “promise made, promise kept.” Ford told Ontarians that provincial finances were worse than people thought, he made them worse by capitalizing on an accounting debate. He then used that as cover to deliver a series of spending cuts from slashing a planned social assistance increase in half to cancelling satellite campuses.

On Thursday, Fedeli claimed to have saved $3.2 billion in unspecified spending and reduced the deficit by $500 million, so it now stands at $14.5 billion. “We have made progress, but there is still much work to be done,” Fedeli said. He went on to speak vaguely about about taking “a new direction,” and intent on a “meaningful debt reduction strategy,” and delivering government services “effectively.”

This government seems content to leave Ontarians in the dark about what any of that will actually mean. For now, the continued focus is on campaign-style announcements of the buck-a-beer variety that Ford likes so much. This time round, it’s ordering liquor stores to keep longer hours and putting notes on home heating bills and gas pumps telling Ontarians how much the federal carbon tax is costing them.

This update is the latest vehicle for the Ford government to perpetuate the idea that the province is in a state of crisis. What it doesn’t do is give us much of an idea of how it plans to tackle the big issues.

Issues Pages: 

Andrea Horwath's criticism of Fedeli's fall economic update can be found at CBC's Power and Politics from 5 minutes 30 seconds to 12:00 minutes on the video below.



Here's more on the economic, social and environmental impacts of Fedeli's fall economic update:

As gleaned from numerous media reports, the measures announced included:

1. Implementing a tax credit for full-time minimum wage workers (which Ford has frozen at $14 an hour -- at a cost to minimum wage workers of $1.4 billion a year) that would mean minimum wage workers might not pay up to $850 a year in provincial tax (well short of the $1,900 a year they would have earned had the minimum wage been increased to $15 an hour).

2. Cutting nearly $1 billion from children, youth (including cutting pharmacare for young people who have private insurance) and social services with details on social assistance "reforms" coming on November 22.

3. Considering changes to publicly funded health benefits and the Ontario Drug Benefit Program (a concern highlighted by the Ontario NDP).

4. Cancelling a surtax on some of those with the highest incomes in the province at the cost of $275 million a year in revenue.

5. Rejecting a measure that would have stopped wealthy people from incorporating to get a better tax rate than others (at a cost of about $160 million a year).

6. Exempting new rental units from rent control (placing further pressure on already limited access to affordable housing).

7. Eliminating the positions of environmental commissioner, French language services commissioner and provincial advocate for children and youth (who investigated when a child died in foster care and advocated for improvements in the child protection system).

8. Forming a new mining working group that will focus on "streamlining" regulatory approvals and promoting investment in the Ring of Fire region.

9. Stating that the Ontario government would not block interprovincial pipelines -- such as the 1.1-million-barrel-per-day Energy East pipeline -- that link the Alberta tar sands to the eastern part of the country (presumably including export markets).

10. Cancelling a proposed French-language university (it's not clear how much that cost), on top of three other cancelled university satellite campuses -- in Brampton, Markham and Milton -- that had been budgeted at $300 million.

11. Increasing the threshold to maintain official party status from eight seats to 12 seats, as well as ending public subsidies for political parties by 2022 (which costs about $15 million).

12. Extending the hours of LCBO stores so that they are open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, plus developing a plan to sell beer and wine in convenience and big box stores.

13. Providing $25 million over four years to the City of Toronto to fight "guns and gangs."

The Ford government has already implemented a hiring freeze across the public service.

The government also introduced Bill 57 on the same day as the economic statement, a measure that would make it easier to sell Ontario Place in Toronto.



They are really going after Franco-Ontarians

As well as backtracking on the promised French-language university.


Ford's cutting of the French language university and the French language services commissioner in the budget update is causing an increasing level of anger among Francophones not just in Ontario, but also in Quebec, New Brunswick and Manitoba that could create electoral problems for Scheer. Even Rachel Curran, director of policy under former prime minister Stephen Harper, admitted as much on CBC's Power and Politics. 

What's been called a "sad day for Franco-Ontarians" presents a challenge for Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer — not only in Ontario but in every part of the country where francophones live. The Conservatives are hoping to replicate Premier Doug Ford's electoral success in Ontario and see him as a key ally in the fight against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's carbon tax. But they also have great hopes of wooing Quebec voters — hopes that could be dashed if Scheer is unable to reconcile his support for Ford with his pitch to the francophone voters now angered by Ford's actions.

In its fiscal update on Thursday, Ford's government announced it would be cancelling a project to build a long-awaited French-language university in Toronto and would be abolishing the position of the French language services commissioner.

These decisions hit Franco-Ontarians hard and the reaction has been swift and furious. The front page of Le Droit, a major Franco-Ontarian newspaper, called it a "black day for francos." Francophone organizations and associations across the province have denounced the move and say they are prepared to contest it in the courts.

But French-speakers in Ontario weren't the only ones who took notice. In New Brunswick and Manitoba, concerns are being raised about what it signals for the francophone minorities in those provinces. This is an especially sensitive issue in New Brunswick, where a new Progressive Conservative government is taking office that is dependent for survival on the People's Alliance, a party that wants to roll back some parts of the province's Official Languages Act.

Quebec's French-language media — which normally would pay little attention to a provincial fiscal update in Ontario — also jumped on the news. Le Devoir reported the decision under the headline, "Doug Ford sacrifices Ontario francophones." Le Journal de Montréal, a widely-read and generally conservative-leaning paper, called it a "sad day."

Quebec Premier François Legault, a small-c conservative himself, also expressed his concerns and said he would take up the issue with his Ontario counterpart. The mayor of Quebec City — the municipality at the centre of the region where most of the Conservatives' seats in the province are located — denounced the move as mean-spirited and provocative.

It all puts Scheer in a difficult position. Ford's Progressive Conservative government in Ontario is not only ideologically aligned with the federal Conservatives, it's in lockstep with Scheer's campaign against the federal carbon tax. Quebec Conservative MPs were quick to say on Friday that their party would always stand up for francophones, though they did not go so far as to say that they would stand against the actions of the Ontario government. But if Scheer and his party don't do more to show that they are not aligned with Ford's policy toward Franco-Ontarians, that could cost them support among French Canadians across the country.

Quebec isn't the only place where the francophone vote is decisive, although it is a province where the Conservatives have hopes of making gains. The party is polling in second place in Quebec and stole a seat away from the Liberals in the Chicoutimi–Le Fjord byelection earlier this year. Francophones make up at least a fifth of the population in all 78 of Quebec's ridings and a majority in 65. But outside of Quebec, there are four ridings with majority francophone populations — three in New Brunswick and one in Ontario. There are another 14 ridings — in New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Manitoba — where francophones make up at least 10 per cent of the population. Half of those ridings voted Conservative the last time the party won a majority government in 2011; they would be key to any Conservative victory in 2019.

It's not likely that being seen as close to the Ford government will do Scheer many favours in the 96 ridings across the country with significant francophone populations. ...

ETA: Scheer has very publicly allied himself with Ford, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney (who may become Alberta's premier after next spring's provincial election) in his fight against Trudeau's carbon tax. He may prove reluctant to take Ford to task over a separate issue that he'd prefer to avoid altogether.

That alliance could compound the potential for problems facing Conservatives in Quebec. Quebec will not be affected by the federally-imposed carbon tax; the province already has a cap-and-trade system in place.

But voters in Quebec are worried about climate change. Polls show that it rates as an issue most highly in Quebec, putting the environment and climate change among the top issues for voters in the province.

The Liberals' plan to put a price on carbon is also more popular in Quebec than anywhere else in the country. A recent Angus Reid Institute poll put approval of the plan at 69 per cent.

Mainstreet Research not only found support for the plan higher in Quebec than elsewhere, it reported that 77 per cent of Quebecers told the polling firm they strongly or somewhat agreed that "it is more important for the government to solve the issue of climate change even if that means that the economy suffers."

That puts Scheer at risk of being out of step with Quebecers in the next federal election on one major issue — a risk that could be amplified if francophones also sense the Conservative leader is unwilling to distance himself from Ford's approach to funding services for Franco-Ontarians.


alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Was Wynne that horrible? Seriously is that what progressives should celebrate?


Ford has laid the groundwork for an attack on social services. 

As political tactics go, it’s not a bad one.

Drum up fears that the social assistance program than sustains nearly 1 million Ontarians might be gutted. Do this by talking about how it costs taxpayers $10 billion a year, isn’t sustainable, and doesn’t encourage people to work. ...




Ford and the PCs have been surprised by the widespread and forceful opposition to the governments cuts Francophone services and the threat of large demonstrations against the government over this issue starting in December. As a result, Ford has backed down to some extent, but still will not fund a proposed French university. 

After a backlash, Premier Doug Ford's government announced Friday afternoon it will take a number of steps to bolster the French language in Ontario, although it's still cutting funding for a planned French language university.

In its fall economic statement, the Progressive Conservative government announced plans to eliminate the position of the French language services commissioner and scrap plans to build a French university as part of a plan to balance the budget.

The decision prompted immediate backlash from Ontarians, the federal government and Quebec's new premier, who asked Ford to reverse the cuts at their first face-to-face meeting this week. One of Ford's MPPs, Amanda Simard, broke ranks to criticize the move, saying she was disappointed and frustrated.

On Friday, the government announced it was changing its plans, vowing to: 

  • Re-create the position of French language services commissioner, that will be attached to the ombudsman's office.
  • Name Caroline Mulroney as the minister of francophone affairs.
  • Hire a senior policy adviser responsible for francophone affairs in Ford's office.

However, Ontario's government is not restoring funding for a planned French-language university in the province.

It's unclear how much the changes will cost to implement.

"The fiscal realities of our province's finances prohibit a new stand-alone French Language University right now," Mulroney said in a news release.  ...

The Francophone Assembly of Ontario, which represents some 740,000 Franco-Ontarians, previously announced it's planning a day of action against the cuts on Dec. 1 in dozens of locations across the province.




Amanda Simard, francophone MPP for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, has quit the Ontario PCs to become an independent over the Ford government's cuts to francophone services. 

For days, Ms. Simard has been speaking out against the government’s decision in its fall fiscal update to cancel plans for a francophone university and cut the office of the French-language watchdog. “I’m asking the Premier and the government to reverse their decisions. And so I’m just doing what I was elected to do,” Ms. Simard told reporters at Queen’s Park this week. ...

After significant outcry from the Franco-Ontarian community, the PC government retreated somewhat last week by announcing it would create a French-language services commissioner position under the auspices of the Ombudsman’s office. Mr. Ford also officially installed Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney as the Minister of Francophone Affairs, and pledged to hire a senior policy adviser for francophone affairs. But plans for a francophone university, which Mr. Ford had promised to keep during the election campaign, were not resurrected. ...

Ms. Simard said the “partial backtracking” was not enough. On Wednesday, she voted against the government’s fall economic update in the legislature.



Franco-Ontarians are organizing 40 rallies to protest cuts to French services by the Ford government. 

Franco-Ontarians and their supporters are gathering across the province to protest Premier Doug Ford’s cuts to services for French-speakers. Many are donning the green-and-white flag that represents Ontario francophones as they rally to denounce the Ford government’s decision to scrap plans for a standalone French-language university and eliminate the independent office of the French-language services commissioner.

The largest of the 40 or so rallies is expected to be in Ottawa. ...

The Ford government’s moves sparked widespread anger within French-speaking communities in Ontario and Quebec and have been publicly denounced by the Quebec legislature.



Ford's Cons will be cutting social services by more than $1 billion over time. 

Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives are slashing roughly $1 billion from the Ministry for Children, Community and Social Services over the next three years, according to the provincial budget, but have provided few details about where the cuts will occur.

Spending will fall from $17 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year to $16 billion in 2021-22 and is projected to fall even further to $15.6 billion by 2023-24, according to the budget released Thursday. ...

The changes will result in an estimated annual savings of $720 million within three years, according to the budget. Another $510 million is expected annually through “operational efficiencies and cost savings” as well as streamlining programs such as childcare, affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs.

Minister Lisa MacLeod announced last fall a $10-billion shakeup to social assistance that will see individuals on Ontario Works earn $300 per month before a reduction in their assistance benefits, up from $200. ...

Although there are few details in the budget regarding the cuts, Nicole Bonnie with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, said she is concerned the cuts will have an impact on how child welfare is handled in the province. ...

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed the cuts to social programs as evidence the budget “won’t help families.”

“We went into this budget expecting deep cuts,” Horwath told reporters. “What we didn’t expect was level of irresponsibility and outright cruelty that we are seeing in this budget.”



Doug Ford's solution to Ontairo's problems: more booze and more cuts to social services and education and increased strings attached to funding. In the Ford budget, the environment is non existent. 

Early boozy brunches, happy hours, day drinking in parks, and tailgating parties across Ontario are getting a big boost from Doug Ford’s first budget since he was handed a majority last year. Though some critics suggest that these are merely distractions from cuts to programs that help students, vulnerable children, and Indigenous people.

But first, the alcohol, and changes that were described by Finance Minister Vic Fedeli as “treating adults like adults.” You can start boozing at 9 AM with brunch, restaurants can advertise Happy Hour specials (that was restricted before), municipalities will be allowed to legalize consumption in public places such as parks and buying alcohol should be more convenient with plans to make it more widely-available in corner and grocery stores. Parking lots of major sports venues can get also special occasion liquor licenses on game days for proper American-style tailgating festivities. ...

Ford’s Progressive Conservative government is cutting $1 billion in funding for the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. Also getting chopped is about $750 million in funding for post-secondary education in this fiscal year alone. There are strings attached to getting money from the province too. Right now, about one percent of funding for universities and colleges is tied to things like graduation and employment and whether or not those outcomes align with the government’s priorities. Next year, 25 percent of funding will be dependent on outcomes, going up to 60 percent in five years.

The NDP describes this as, “Ford keeping universities and colleges under his thumb with a threat that as much as 60 percent of their remaining funding could be withheld,” according to a statement from NDP opposition leader Andrea Horwath. Her statement goes on to say that this was a fiscal plan that was nasty. “What we didn’t expect was the level of irresponsibility and outright cruelty we’re seeing in this budget,” she said. 

On the subject of housing, which is a key issue for millennials, there is mention of boosting the housing supply action plan, but no detail in terms of funding and what that would be earmarked for—that information is set to be released in the coming weeks and months. Housing advocates say they’re reserving judgement on this plan when they actually know anything concrete.

Also MIA in this fiscal blueprint is the environment, according to Sean Lyons who is a professor of business and economics at the University of Guelph. "I think a lot of young people will be disappointed by the lack of attention to environmental issues in this budget. With the cancellation of cap and trade in Ontario, there is really no systematic plan to address climate change in Ontario and this budget doesn't deliver anything on that front. The Ford Government has been quite vocal in their opposition of a federal carbon tax, but without a viable alternative."





Thousands of teaching positions and teachers will disappear as a result of Ford's budget. 

The province of Ontario will save $851 million by losing 3,475 full-time teachingpositions over the next four years, according to an education ministry memo. The move to phase out the positions comes as the Doug Ford government faces increased criticism on cuts to education, including increasing high school class sizes and instituting mandatory e-learning courses.

Ontario NDP education critic Marit Stiles said school boards have warned that the government’s deep cuts to education are going to take thousands of teachers out of schools.

“Cramming more students into every classroom and having fewer adults in every school is going to hurt kids,” Stiles said in a statement. 

“By taking away thousands of teachers, Ford is taking away one-on-one help when students need it. He’s taking away courses like band, technology and trades classes. And he’s taking away opportunity — and Ontario’s students deserve more opportunity, not less.”

Some boards have also written to the education minister saying the move will mean they can offer fewer elective courses, such as those in the arts and skilled trades.

The government plans to increase average high-school class sizes from 22 to 28 students. Average class sizes for Grades 4 to 8 will increase more modestly from an average of 23 students per class to 24. Class sizes for kindergarten through Grade 3 are not changing.



The cuts in teaching positions are already starting to be announced with the Toronto School Board identifying 1,000+ possible cuts and the Peel District School Board alone announcing 400 cuts in teaching positions. The 

As of Wednesday morning, 176 elementary and 193 secondary teachers were told that they will no longer have permanent positions after Aug. 31, said a spokesperson for Peel District School Board (PDSB) to Global News. The board said these notices are a result of changes to class sizes, cuts in local priorities funding and other reductions in funding. ...

The Toronto District School Board also said in a memo to Global News in March the government’s plan to increase high school class sizes could lead to 800 secondary teachers losing their jobs. For elementary schools, 216 teachers could lose their jobs. ...

In March, the Ontario government announced its plans to increase average high-school class sizes from 22 to 28 students. The average class sizes for Grades 4 to 8 will increase more modestly from 23 students per class to 24. Class sizes for kindergarten through Grade 3 are not changing.

“Not one teacher – not one – will lose their job because of our class size strategy,” Education Minister Lisa Thompson said at the time.



Ford and the Ontario pc’s just made it harder to raise a family in Ontario!

Education is critical! I’m not sure how my children will be impacted yet because of their young age. And these reckless cuts seem to be directed towards older kids young teens. 

Doug Ford and the pc are making lots of enemies waiting for 2022!

Sean in Ottawa

jerrym wrote:

Ford's Cons will be cutting social services by more than $1 billion over time. 

Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives are slashing roughly $1 billion from the Ministry for Children, Community and Social Services over the next three years, according to the provincial budget, but have provided few details about where the cuts will occur.

Spending will fall from $17 billion in the 2018-19 fiscal year to $16 billion in 2021-22 and is projected to fall even further to $15.6 billion by 2023-24, according to the budget released Thursday. ...

The changes will result in an estimated annual savings of $720 million within three years, according to the budget. Another $510 million is expected annually through “operational efficiencies and cost savings” as well as streamlining programs such as childcare, affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs.

Minister Lisa MacLeod announced last fall a $10-billion shakeup to social assistance that will see individuals on Ontario Works earn $300 per month before a reduction in their assistance benefits, up from $200. ...

Although there are few details in the budget regarding the cuts, Nicole Bonnie with the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, said she is concerned the cuts will have an impact on how child welfare is handled in the province. ...

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed the cuts to social programs as evidence the budget “won’t help families.”

“We went into this budget expecting deep cuts,” Horwath told reporters. “What we didn’t expect was level of irresponsibility and outright cruelty that we are seeing in this budget.”


Given the increase to those who are able to get some work and the overall cuts -- the resutl means that the cuts to those unable to get any work will be even deeper.

Given that you already cannot survive in most places on the present amounts, the Conservatives must be planning to eliminate most social assistance by effectively making the amount so low that people won't survive on it and either leave the province or otherwise drop off the rolls. This has for a long time been a heartless party whose supporters have to decieve themselves if they are not heartless themselves.


Ford is threatening to cap public sector union wages as well as cuts to benefits.



Despite admitting climate change is causing major flooding in Ontario and saying he takes it seriously, Doug Ford is cutting a program to plant millions of trees that would help fight global warming because the trees would take some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. 

Ford is also cutting OHIP funding for travel outside Canada.

The latest casualty of Ford’s 2019 budget: $4.7 million in annual funding for Forests Ontario’s 50 Million Tree Program. The goal of the program was to plant 50 million trees by 2025, which would improve soil quality, cut back on erosion, increase wildlife habitat and mitigate the effects of climate change across the province.

Rob Keen, the CEO of Forests Ontario, told CTV News that, “40 per cent forest cover is needed to ensure forest sustainability, and the average right now in southern Ontario is 26 per cent, with some areas as low as five per cent.” Keen also explained that part of the $4.7 million went to Forest Ontario’s planting partners, like conservation groups and First Nations who worked with landowners to get more trees planted.

According to Ed Patchell, the CEO of one of the nurseries that works with Forest Ontario, this budget cancellation will likely also lead to layoffs throughout all the organizations that partner with Forest Ontario. “It may be a way for the government to save some money, but it’s very short-sighted and it’s going to cost us a lot more in the future,” he said. ...

On April 24, the government announced a proposal to end OHIP coverage for Canadians who travel outside of the country. Per the proposal, the amendment “aligns with [the] government’s commitment to implement changed to restore accountability and trust in the use of taxpayer dollars and to bring greater modernization, efficiency and transparency to OHIP to benefit both providers and patients.”


Ford is also making 50% cuts to libraries. 

Barbara Franchetto has seen budget cuts before over her three decades at the Southern Ontario Library Service, of which she’s CEO. “Since I’ve been here there’s only been one increase in our operating budget and otherwise, it’s been pretty well flatlined,” she says. And she was prepared to take a hit under Premier Doug Ford’s government, which only stands to reason: It’s on a cost-cutting mission, and Premier Doug Ford is not known as a staunch defender of libraries. As a Toronto city councillor he complained the city’s superb library system had too many branches, claiming he’d happily close some of them in a “heartbeat.”

Franchetto wasn’t prepared for the 50 per cent budget cut that’s come her way in the 2019 budget, however. Nor was Mellissa D’Onofrio-Jones, CEO of Ontario Library Services — North, which took a similar hit. Neither has decided exactly which of their programs and services will face the axe. Each provides its member libraries with pooled resources for purchasing materials and subscriptions, training programs, policy and management advice and grants.



Education is another area facing significant cuts.

Spending is up in some areas of education, but per-pupil funding has gone down as school boards continue to analyze the impact of their grants for the 2019-20 school year. ...

At the same time, the government is spending $230 million less on the “learning opportunities grant,” used to support boards with large populations of at-risk students who are living in poverty or dealing with challenging family situations — although it says more money for that could come through teacher contracts when they are negotiated this year. 

The provincial government announced its annual education grants — formally known as “grants for student needs” or GSNs — on Friday, information the boards have been clamouring for, given it has come later than usual this year.

Overall, the government will spend $24.66 billion on education, a slight increase from last year’s $24.53 billion — although that figure includes $564.4 million, the first instalment of a $1.6-billion attrition fund the government has created for boards to adjust to the loss of about 3,500 teaching positions over the next four years as class sizes increase starting in Grade 4.

Per-pupil funding will be $12,246 for 2019-20, down from $12,300 this school year, which critics said will impact student learning conditions, given it includes an overall cut of $630 million from the pupil foundation grant. ...

New Democrat MPP Marit Stiles (Davenport) — a former Toronto public school board trustee who had just returned from meeting with concerned constituents in Thompson’s Huron-Bruce riding — said “the reduction in the budget is far more significant than what it looks like at first glance.”

Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said teacher positions will be lost, funding is down, there’s no allowance for inflation, so “you are looking at a real decline in the amount spent on students.” ...

“It’s going to take weeks for everybody to sort through it. It’s very late in the year for this to be happening. It means that even programs like Focus on Youth may still be a risk because they haven’t come through with the announcement until now,” Stiles said at Queen’s Park. 

Amin Ali, policy co-ordinator for the Ontario Student Trustees’ Association, said they’d hoped for an increase in the learning opportunities grant for needy students.

“It is beyond saddening to see the government deeply cut this ... which supports countless students in breaking down barriers to their education,” Ali said.



Me thinks that Ford is retaliating at the teachers for their loss in 2014. And they probably see the organized labour in teachers and public staff as enemies. 

There’ll probably be a huge organized labour campaign against Ford come 2022


The Ford government plans to make 60% of funding for postsecondary education based on ten performance measures. Why would anyone think these measures would meet corporate rather than social and community goals and be designed to favour Conservative friendly ridings?

As much as $3 billion annually is at stake for Ontario's 45 publicly-funded post-secondary institutions.  In last month's budget, the government said it would tie 60 per cent of its post-secondary funding to how universities and colleges perform on 10 measures, but did not reveal specifics about the criteria. 

New details are found in a Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities briefing document marked "confidential," obtained by CBC News. It lays out each of the 10 measures, sometimes referred to as metrics, and the schedule for implementing them. 

Six of the metrics are related to skills and job outcomes:

  • Graduate earnings. 
  • Number and proportion of graduates in programs with experiential learning. 
  • Skills and competencies.
  • Proportion of graduates employed full-time in a related or partially-related field. 
  • Proportion of students in identified area of strength. 
  • Graduation rate. 

The other four metrics are related to what the government calls "economic and community impact."

On these, there is some variation between the measurements for colleges and universities. Both will be evaluated on funding received from industry sources, as well as on "community/local impact," a simple measure of the student population as a proportion of the local population. Universities will be measured on federal research funding (from such agencies as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, NSERC). Alternatively, colleges will be measured on an apprenticeship-related metric that is marked "TBD" for "to be determined." Finally, each individual college and university will have its own "institution-specific economic impact metric."   

The ministry document does not explain how that or some of the other measurements would be calculated. The metric for skills and competencies is also labelled "TBD." "The government rolled this out with much less detail than you would expect given the magnitude of the change they're contemplating," said Alex Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates, a Toronto-based consulting firm. ...

The issue, said Usher, is whether the metrics are well-designed. 

The ministry briefing document shows that starting in the 2020-21 academic year, 25 per cent of provincial grants to post-secondary institutions (about $1.27 billion) will be "performance/outcomes-based funding."  That will rise by 10 percentage points each year, until 2024-25, when it peaks at 60 per cent ($3.04 billion).   Currently, only 1.2 per cent of college funding and 1.4 per cent of university funding is tied to outcomes. ...

Usher has seen details of the metrics and describes them as mixed. He said some are "badly designed or just plain stupid" and puts the community/local impact metric in that category. If you really want to rig something so that Nipissing comes out well, just hand them the money, don't pretend it's a performance indicator." NIpissing University is located in North Bay, the smallest Ontario city with a university.  ...

The Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) is raising concerns about the plan, calling it "a drastic move towards tying funding to performance outcomes." The move will "create inequities and slowly but certainly undermine the integrity of Ontario's postsecondary education system," OCUFA says in a new post on its website. "This is something that's being used a lot in a number of different states in the U.S. and nowhere is there any research to suggest that it improves education," said the association's president, Gyllian Phillips, in an interview.



Education cuts in Ontario are generating more protests as Ford calls teachers' unions " union thugs": 

Ottawa high school student Amy Unhola says she was upset by Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s description of the teachers’ unions protesting his education policies as “union thugs.”

“Personally, I find that term very inappropriate,” she told a band of about 30 students at a protest on the steps of Parliament Hill on Wednesday. “These are our teachers you are talking about.”

The polite, articulate 14-year-old was one of the organizers of a “sit-in” to protest the Conservative government’s changes to the province’s schools. The students oppose plans to increase the average size of Ontario high school classes to 28 from 22, to require high school students to take four courses online to graduate and to cut some education programs. ...

Fewer teachers also means there will be less staff available for extracurricular activities like sports and clubs, students said. The Progressive Conservative government estimates that 3,745 high school teaching positions will be eliminated when classes grow larger. The government has said the cuts would come through attrition as teachers retire or leave voluntarily.

Students across the province had also planned “sit ins” at the offices of local MPPs and at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Wednesday.

The students warn that fewer teachers will mean programs and courses will be cut, which has already happened at some schools in the Toronto area. ...

Students also said they feared the mandatory four e-learning courses would be disastrous. Some students find it difficult to learn online, said Brigit Crumley, 14, a student at College catholique Franco-Ouest, who organized the sit-in. “I’m the kind of student who always wants to ask questions in class to the teacher.”

Students also learn social skills in class that can’t be taught via computer, she said in an interview. Less advantaged students or those in some rural areas who don’t have Internet at home or a computer will end up with a lower quality education, she said. “You won’t be able to complete your (e-course) homework at home. The people who it’s going to affect the most are the people who already have a hard time.” Crumley was on the provincial organizing committee for the sit-ins, which were the second protest organized under the #studentssayno banner.

Thousands of students across the province walked out of classes on April 4.


The Ford government is making cuts to tech start-up firms while it helps the fossil fuel industry externalize the health, flooding, wildfire and other climate change induced costs of the industry by ending carbon pricing. Investing in tech firms is something all developed countries do in one way or another. Furthermore, the tech start-ups have been told there are more cuts to come as Ford continues to promote a twentieth century economy in the 21st century. 

A 30 per cent funding cut followed by layoffs at Communitech is just the start of change at the tech hub, says industry watcher Douglas Soltys. "I think it is a wake-up call to the tech industry," said Soltys, the editor-in-chief of tech industry website BetaKit.

He said the cuts are a sign to the entire innovation economy that when it comes to the province making cuts, they won't be spared. He also said the province has already given companies like Communitech, MaRS Discovery District in Toronto and Innovate Ottawa indications that more change is coming.

"I think the real thing to look for is not the cuts that are happening now, but the notice that these organizations have been given that they're under review for go-forward funding and how that might affect it," he said in an interview with CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. We don't really know the criteria to which they'll be evaluated or how much [the province] is willing to commit," he said. "This happens with new governments coming in, but the extent to which it will affect this ecosystem definitely remains to be seen." ...

Klugman noted half of the funding for Communitech is currently from the private sector with the rest coming from municipal, provincial and federal governments. "Communitech is a public-private partnership, and the support the federal and provincial governments provide is integral to much of the work we do, especially with startup and scaling companies," Klugman said. "We do have a great working relationship with the province, and look forward to engaging with them on the business support review outlined in the budget, highlighting the impact Communitech programming has on economic growth and job creation. We expect to continue our partnership with the province in the years to come." ...

Still, the news of the budget cuts and resulting layoffs aren't good for the region, Kitchener Centre NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo said. "Every single organization in every single sector has this inside fear that cuts are coming," she said.

Lindo said for a government that touts being open for business, she's surprised they would make cuts to Communitech, which focuses on bringing industry to Waterloo region and helping companies grow. Those kinds of companies "should be one of the first things we invest in," she said. ...

Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky is a former Communitech board member and says he's seen how the company has helped the local economy. ... "In my view, Communitech makes great use of every dollar it has, and I'm pleased that the province has also seen the value in continued investment, although I'm disappointed it's at a lower rate," he said.  ...

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic echoed those sentiments and said the city has seen the importance of partnering with Communitech. They've made strategic investments in the tech hub and they have a civic innovation lab there. ...

Regional Chair Karen Redman recognizes Communitech has done a lot to help startups get off the ground after the downturn of Blackberry impacted the region.





The Ford Conservative government has also made major cuts small business programs


Ford has also cut 70% of the funding for First Nations centre aimed at protecting wildlife and resources.


All of these cuts are having an impact on the Ford government's popularity as the NDP now are at 31% while Ford has dropped for 40.5% in the election to 30%, with the Liberals in third at 26% and the Greens at 11%, according to a Pollara Strategic Insights poll.

Progressive Conservative support is eroding less than a year after Premier Doug Ford’s majority victory, a new poll suggests. The Pollara Strategic Insights survey found 31 per cent of respondents now prefer Andrea Horwath’s New Democrats, compared to 30 per cent for Ford’s Tories and 26 per cent for the Liberals under interim Leader John Fraser. Mike Schreiner’s Greens have surged to 11 per cent.

Pollara chief strategist Don Guy said a muddled PC agenda and “a hyper-partisan legislature” have been especially helpful to the Liberals and the Greens. In last June’s election, the Tories won 40.5 per cent of the vote, the NDP 33.6 per cent, the Liberals 19.6 per cent, and the Greens 4.6 per cent.

“The core Ford ‘value-for-money’ positioning and its no-pain-solutions promise was almost perfect for middle-of-the-road Ontario,” Guy said Thursday. But the Ford reality has unfortunately been a distracted, diffuse agenda that has sucked up much of the government’s communications oxygen catering to its base,” he said. “As a result, a backlash is gaining momentum, putting newly won seats at risk.” ...

A sample of this size would have a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 time out of 20. The poll found 30 per cent of respondents approve of the government, with 64 per cent disapproving and 6 per cent unsure. Among respondents who voted PC in 2018, just 69 per cent now approve of the Tories, with 29 per cent saying they disapprove and 2 per cent uncertain.

When asked for reasons why they cast ballots for the Tories, 70 per cent said “to get rid of the Kathleen Wynne Liberals” with 42 per cent citing “time for a change, generally” and 25 per cent saying they “have always voted PC.” Only 21 per cent said it was because they “like Doug Ford.” Similarly, 21 per cent voted for the Tories for cheaper gasoline prices. ...

Guy said the April 11 budget — with its controversial cutting of some services despite overall record spending — has not rolled out well for the government.

“Ham-handed cuts are crippling the core promise for swing voters — governing for the people,” the pollster noted. As a result, the swing voters who put the PCs in office are hearing only one meta-message from Ford: ‘Hulk Smash.’ And they are turning away,” he said, referring to the motto of Marvel’s Incredible Hulk.

Pollara found backing for the Tories was down in Toronto, where they sit third behind the New Democrats and Liberals, as well as in Eastern and Northern Ontario. The governing party is holding steady in the 905 ahead of the Liberals and New Democrats while the NDP leads in Hamilton and Niagara. In Southwestern Ontario, the Tories narrowly lead the NDP with the Liberals in third.

Pollara’s findings echo those in a Corbett Communications poll published last week in the Star.


Another poll by Corbett Communications found significant opposition to education cuts as well as other programs. 

Two thirds oppose cuts to teachers by attrition: Fully two thirds of Ontario voters oppose the Ford government's plan to eliminate more than 3000 teaching jobs in the next four years (62%), most of them "strongly" (48%), while fewer than one quarter support this plan (23%).

One half oppose increase in elementary school class sizes: One half oppose increases in class size in elementary schools from 23 to 24 students (47%), most "strongly" (35%), while 3-in-10 support the plan (30%).

Six-in-ten oppose increasing class sizes in high school: Six-in-ten oppose the policy of increasing high school classes from 22 to 28 students (59%), most "strongly" (44%), while just one quarter support it (25%).

Majority oppose required online courses: The majority oppose the plan to require high school students to take at least 4 online courses (57%), most of them "strongly" (39%), while just one fifth support it (21%).

If getting out of Beer Store contract costs $1 billion, support falls: If it is explained that getting out of the Beer Store's exclusive contract might cost the province $1 billion, support for beer and wine in convenience stores falls to one third (33%), while opposition increases to 6-in-10 (59%), most of them "strongly opposed" (42%).

Majority oppose $10,000 fine for not displaying gas pump sticker

More than half the voters in Ontario oppose the $10,000 fine for not displaying the stickers (52%), and most oppose it strongly (40%). Opposition is highest among past Liberal, NDP and Green voters (52%, 60%, 47%, respectively.


More cuts from the Ford government: this time to children and youth programs. 

The Ford government is reducing funding for children and youth at risk by $84.5 million, according to an analysis of provincial spending estimates by the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies.

The reduction includes a $28 million cut to the $1.5 billion the province gives 49 children’s aid societies in Ontario, increasing concerns about the ability of agencies to serve and protect vulnerable children. The cut comes as 18 child protection agencies struggle with deficits totalling more than $12 million.



Ten former health ministers from all three of the parties that have formed Ontario governments are urging the Ford government to reverse its health cuts. 

Ten former Ontario health ministers representing three political parties are urging the provincial government to reverse its cuts to public-health funding.

Six former Liberal ministers, three New Democrats and one Progressive Conservative have signed an open letter to Health Minister Christine Elliott, imploring her to stop what they call “drastic” cuts.

They cite the 2003 SARS epidemic, which killed 44 people in Toronto, as evidence of the “devastating impact of failing to invest in public health.”

The province has notified municipal public health units that it will reduce its cost-sharing levels in a move to save $200-million a year by 2021-22.

Officials in Toronto say the move will cost the city’s public health agency more than $1-billion over 10 years and affect services such as vaccinations and child nutrition programs.


Peter Weltman, Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Officer, is warning that if the Ford government wants to balance the books. He notes that the Ford government's budget projections include an additional $6 billion in yet unidentified cuts, as well as tax breaks (guess for who) of course, that start in 2021-22. The budget plan reflects spending caps not seen since the Harris government. Weltman also says Ford's projections of Ontario's economic growth rate are very optimistic and that the cuts themselves are large enough to create a drag on the economy. 

Meanwhile budget protests continue to grow. Gee, it sounds like late 1990s and early 2000s all over again. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s plan to balance the government’s books depends on an additional $6-billion in unspecified reductions, the province’s financial watchdog says, while also warning that economic uncertainty could hinder efforts to tackle the deficit.

The spring economic and budget outlook from Peter Weltman, Ontario’s independent Financial Accountability Officer, comes as Mr. Ford clashes with municipal leaders, including Toronto Mayor John Tory, as well as school boards and teacher and healthcare unions over the cuts the Ford government has already announced in the wake of its first budget, unveiled last month.

Now, Mr. Weltman says Ontario’s plans to balance the books in by 2023-24, a year after the next election, rely on a second round of $6-billion in unidentified spending cuts that start in 2021-22. While Mr. Ford and his Finance Minister Vic Fedeli have said they have found 8 cents on every dollar in spending to cut over the next five years, Mr. Weltman says his analysts could only find half of those reductions actually spelled out in the budget. ...

Mr. Weltman’s report also says the government’s budget projections include billions of dollars of as-yet unannounced tax breaks and spending measures. These tax cuts and spending moves would, if implemented, start in 2021 and cost the government $5.5-billion by 2023-24. They appear to include the PC election campaign promise to cut “middle-income” taxes by 20 per cent, starting in the government’s third year in office.

But Mr. Weltman warns this move could further slow the reduction of the province’s deficit and add $13-billion to Ontario’s large and still-growing debt load, which is projected to rise steadily and hit $398-billion by 2023-24 – up from $343-billion today. ...

Mr. Weltman’s report also says the government’s budget projections include billions of dollars of as-yet unannounced tax breaks and spending measures. These tax cuts and spending moves would, if implemented, start in 2021 and cost the government $5.5-billion by 2023-24. They appear to include the PC election campaign promise to cut “middle-income” taxes by 20 per cent, starting in the government’s third year in office.

But Mr. Weltman warns this move could further slow the reduction of the province’s deficit and add $13-billion to Ontario’s large and still-growing debt load, which is projected to rise steadily and hit $398-billion by 2023-24 – up from $343-billion today. ...

The report also lays out the overall scope of Mr. Ford’s austerity plans: capping annual program spending growth at about 1 per cent, well below inflation for the next five years. It’s a level not seen since the mid-1990s, under PC premier Mike Harris, when spending growth averaged just 0.3 per cent. ...

Mr. Weltman’s numbers also assume a slower rate of economic growth than the province’s calculations do, noting current uncertainty around trade with China and the United States, as well as worries over high rates of household indebtedness. And as the Bank of Canada did recently, Mr. Weltman cites Mr. Ford’s own cuts to government as a significant drag on Ontario’s overall economy, blaming them for shaving 0.2 percentage points a year off real GDP growth, which his office expects to average just 1.6 per cent over the next five years. ...

Meanwhile, the battle over Mr. Ford’s cuts showed no signs of flagging. On Wednesday, Mr. Tory launched an online petition against the $180-million in cuts hitting his city, warning that Toronto PC MPPs could “pay a heavy price” in the next election. And on Thursday, advocates will release a letter signed by several former Ontario ministers of health urging the government to reverse its cuts to public health.


Ford PC Support Collapses

May 23, 2019  |  Mainstreet Research

The governing Progressive Conservatives have slid to third, Premier Doug Ford’s favourability ratings have now fallen below those of Kathleen Wynne’s at the end of her tenure


With 27,000 people having already signed Toronto Mayor John Tory's website petition against the Ford government cuts, including $178 million for Toronto, Tory is going to door-to door trying to rally more support. Could he challenge Liberal leadership? He did so well last time. The url below includes a video.



As part of his restraint program Ford is also pushing against unions, including the teacher's union, leaving almost nothing for local bargaining as Ford tightens the reins on all power in the province, raising the question of whether Ford is aiming at eliminating school boards in the future. 

Premier Doug Ford’s government recently introduced a regulation that would allow it to start bargaining with education unions as early as April 29, a month ahead of the traditional schedule and in the hopes of minimizing labour disruptions in the fall.

Ontario’s high-school teachers’ union is warning that its initial discussions with the government to reach a new contract have hit a snag. In a memo to members on Friday, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF) said the government and the school boards’ association want more control of issues at the central table and it would prefer those issues be bargained between local unions and individual school districts. ...

“They’re leaving virtually nothing for local bargaining,” Mr. Bischof said. “We think it’s unproductive. Even more critically, if I were a local trustee, I would be very concerned that the government … is making the case for the elimination of local school boards. They’re leaving no meaningful role for those local governance structures, and [they are] centralizing everything.”