The legislative assembly of Ontario will be returning from summer break after 144 days and after the 2019 federal election. Here is a comprehensive list of the cuts and canceled programs made by the Progressive Conservatives and Ontario Premier Doug Ford in their first year. Since firsthand accounts and fact checks are useful tools for activists, the Activist Toolkit has pulled together links to accounts and fact checks for a few of the cuts. The federal Conservatives and their leader Andrew Scheer are using Ford's recipe of being vague on policy and making promises to find painless savings. Let's use tools like this to make sure that they do not get away with it.
Cancelling the Beer Store contract will have an upfront cost of $1 billion. However, UFCW Local 12R24 also asserts that "Ontarians will pay more for beer and put 7,000 good-paying jobs at risk with the PC government's plan to sell alcohol in corner stores, even though Premier Doug Ford promised no one would lose their job." Let's stop sharing the soundbite about a "buck a beer" because it is not true.
Changes to education funding
Here is a fact check of Ford's statements about the rationale for his education changes and cuts. As you can see, it is mostly hyperbole and lies. You can find tools from Students Say No, ETFO's Building Better Schools campaign, Canadian Federation of Students Ontario, Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation and Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association and L'Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), whose members were hit particularly hard by the cuts.
Read a parent of an autistic child's account of why the cuts will hurt them, a high school teacher's account of the looming cuts to classes, and an IBEW union steward talk about how cuts have impacted his union's ability to help at-risk youth. Here is a more complete list of the cruel cuts to programs which help at-risk youth. There are definitely things which need to be addressed to improve our schools but Ford's proposed changes are based on hyperbole and misinformation.
Cuts to health care
The Ontario Health Coalition has been keeping a running list of Ford's cuts to health care and his efforts to privatize parts of our medical care system.
Before the election this open letter from Ontario nurse members of the Canadian Federation of Nurse Unions summed up the holes in Doug Ford's promises perfectly.
As advocates for our patients, nurses know that cutting 4 cents of every dollar spent by government will mean at least $6 billion in cuts. Because health-care funding amounts to 42 per cent of government spending and due to the absence of details about your plans, we have to assume this means your proposal to find "efficiencies" will result in $2.5 billion cut from health-care spending. Cutting $2.5 billion in health-care spending is equal to cutting 25,000 registered nurses from the bedside.
Now that he is in power, he is going back on his promise not to cut jobs, and nurses are being laid off and their jobs are not being filled. Hallway medicine is getting worse by all accounts. The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions has launched a summer campaign to raise awareness about the cuts and the impact this will have on the quality of care. Reach out to them for more information.
Cuts to programs which help poor kids and families
One of the first thing Ford cut, without waiting for the results of the pilot, was the basic income pilot project which was slated to help 4,000 people in three communities in Ontario. The Basic Income Canada Network continues to fight for basic income all. Here are some accounts from the people it helped. The government has also clawed back the transition child benefit, impacting 600 families in the Waterloo region alone. It has also eliminated the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) which targeted assistance to low-income students -- here is a great breakdown of what the changes to OSAP really mean.
Cuts to programs for First Nations communities
Another cut right after Ford took power was the cancellation of the scheduled consultation with First Nations to develop a new curriculum for Ontario schools about Indigenous people. In May, with limited consultation and no clear roll-out plan, the government released a new curriculum with many gaps as Anishinaabe educator Colinda Clyne, points out. This curriculum is for elective not mandatory classes. The government also has also slashed $5 million from the Indigenous Culture Fund and cut 70 per cent of the funding for the Anishinabek/Ontario Fisheries Resource Centre (A/OFRC).
Cuts to programs which protect the environment
The Environmental Commissioner of Ontario just released a report revealing that over 1,300 tonnes of sewage had been dumped into Ontario waterways in 2018 and setting out ways to protect our water. Meanwhile the Progressive Conservatives announced they were eliminating three provincial watchdogs, including environment, in one short paragraph of their November 2018 fall economic statement. This is just one of many assaults on programs which protect the environment.
There are a lot more cuts. I just don't want to exhaust you with resources. Please read this thorough compliation put together by Flare and find out about the cuts that matter to you. This summer join the people organizing against the damage Ontario's Progressive Conservatives have wrought and don't let the Conservatives win the federal election.
The Activist Toolkit Blog is the place to catch up on what's new with the Toolkit. With weekly roundups of newly added tools, highlights of featured tools and extra multimedia content, you'll get up to date info on grassroots organizing.
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