Ford government economic updates and budgets

106 posts / 0 new
Last post

The City of Toronto is taking its complaint about the Ford government cutting the size of city council to the Supreme Court.

The city announced Friday that it has filed an application with the country's highest court to seek leave to appeal the province's decision to slash the size of council.

The city said in a news release that it is now awaiting the Supreme Court of Canada's decision on whether or not it will hear the appeal.

This move marks the final legal option for the city, after the provincial Court of Appeal decided in September that Premier Doug Ford's government had the "legitimate authority" to make mid-election council cuts.

Back in June, the province and the city of Toronto, as well as several candidates who hoped to run in last fall's election, faced off for a third time in court over Ford's surprise move to slash the number of council seats — causing what city officials called "unprecedented disruption."

Ford has defended his move to shift from a 47-ward system to 25 seats aligned with provincial ridings as necessary to fix a "bloated and inefficient" council.

In the 3-2 decision, the court of appeal judges said none of the city's arguments could "succeed," noting it was framed as an issue about protecting freedom of expression in an election when, in reality, the complaint was about the timing of the province's decision.

Changing the composition of a city council is "undeniably within the legitimate authority of the legislature," the decision read, since it's a "creature of provincial legislation."


In cancelling solar and wind projects, the Ford government isn't saving money, its paying hundreds of millions because of lost transfer payments for such greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.  

The Doug Ford government spent more than $230 million to axe more than 750 renewable-energy projects, despite promising taxpayers the move wouldn't cost them a cent.

The spending was revealed in question period Monday by NDP environment critic Peter Tabuns, who said the cost was hidden in the province’s 2018-19 public accounts as a “strange little entry” labelled “other transactions.” 

“How can the premier claim he’s saving taxpayers and ratepayers money when he’s throwing away $231 million to not build renewable energy?” Tabuns said.

Ontario’s associate energy minister, Bill Walker, didn’t deny the number: “We thought maybe (this question) would be coming at some point,” he said.  ...

The government cancelled the 758 wind and solar projects — including the contentious White Pines Wind Project in Milford, Ont. — soon after Ford took office in June 2018. At the time, the government said scrapping the projects would result in energy-bill savings for Ontarians. 

Walker said the green-energy projects weren’t necessary and were, in some cases, unwanted. He pointed in particular to White Pines, which had been partially constructed when Ford cancelled it — one of the premier’s first acts after taking office in June 2018. 

“This municipality was an unwilling host from Day 1,” Walker said on Tuesday. “They did not want the turbines, and we did the right thing.”

White Pines in particular had been a decade in the making, receiving final approval during the election that swept Ford to power. Axing the project was a Progressive Conservative campaign promise (the demolition process started in October). ...

The company behind White Pines, wpd Canada, previously warned that the cancellation could leave taxpayers out $100 million, but Ford’s government said it was crafting legislation to avoid that cost.

Tabuns compared the Ford governments’ actions to those of the previous Liberal government, whose cancellation of gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville cost the province more than $1 billion.




Ontario Conservative Energy and former federal Conservative Minister of Natural Resources Greg Rickford cited a climate change denial blog in justifying the Ford government's ending green energy projects in Ontario. 


During question period at Queen's Park Monday, Rickford called Climate Change Dispatch one of his "favourite periodicals."

The website says its mission is to "deconstruct" climate change theories "propagated" by former U.S. vice president Al Gore and "the highly politicized" International Panel on Climate Change. It asks for donations to help "fight garbage science."

Rickford quoted from a post on the site, titled "Germany Pulls Plug on Wind Energy As Industry Suffers 'Severe Crisis'," in response to questioning from the Opposition about $230-million in cancelled renewable enery contracts in Ontario. ...

Rickford's comments come on the same day that the United Nations Environment Programme released its annual Emissions Gap Report. ...

The 168-page document, compiled by 57 leading scientists from 33 institutions across 25 countries, calls on governments to act immediately, within the next decade, to limit global warming to 1.5 C or 2 C by 2100.  ...

The NDP decried Rickford's reference on Tuesday, calling the site a "conspiracy website" and "digital rag."

It pointed out other articles on Climate Change Dispatch, including one post entitled "Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is Not a Pollutant" and a positive review of a book that compares climate activism to attitudes in Nazi Germany.

"Hate-filled conspiracy theories are not a foundation for good policy," said NDP Climate Crisis critic Peter Tabuns in a statement.

"We are past the point of debating whether climate change exists. Ontarians know climate change is real, and caused by human action. Does this government know that?"  

Meanwhile, a group of young Ontarians is suing the province over what they say is climate change inaction, arguing that the government has violated their charter rights by softening emissions reduction targets.



On the same as Ontario Engergy Minister Greg Rickford quoted a climate change denial blog (described in post #150) to justify ending funding for  green engergy projects in Ontario, a group of young people sued the Ford government over its inaction on global warming, demanding greater action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the province. 

 Climate director of Ecojustice, Alan Andrews, warns that any province that fails to deal with climate change in a meaningful way will face litigation. The Trudeau federal government has already been sued by young people over its failure to deal with climate change. 

One of the plaintiffs is Shaelyn Wabegijig,  a 22 year old from the Rama First Nation near Orillia, who said  she's concerned about having children if the effects of climate change continue to worsen.

 one or more people and outdoor

A group of young Ontarians is suing the province over what they say is climate change inaction, arguing that the Ford government has violated their charter rights by softening emissions reduction targets.

The group claims that recent policy changes "will lead to widespread illness and death," an alleged violation of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which promises protection for life, liberty and security of the person.

They are calling on the Ontario government to commit to more ambitious emission reductions with the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 C, a key target set out in the United Nations' Paris Agreement on climate change.

"Doug Ford is not doing enough to protect our future and it's just unacceptable," said Sophia Mathur, a 12-year-old from Sudbury and one of seven applicants taking part. "I just want to live a normal life in the future; I shouldn't have to be doing this, but adults aren't doing a good job," she told CBC News. ...

"I'm afraid that so many species that I love will go extinct," added Zoe Keary-Matzner, 13, from Toronto. "And that children in the future won't be able to enjoy nature the same way I do."

The applicants, ranging from age 12 to 24, are represented by Stockwoods LLP and Ecojustice, a group that specializes in public interest lawsuits in the name of environmental protection. Their challenge is part of a growing trend in which young people across the globe are suing governments over perceived inaction on climate change. ...

Earlier this year, more than a dozen young Canadians launched a similar lawsuit against the federal government. Similar legal challenges have gone to courts in the U.S. and the Netherlands, with varying degrees of success. This is the first lawsuit filed against a Canadian province over climate inaction.

"Any government that is failing to address the climate emergency in a meaningful way can expect to face litigation of this nature," said Alan Andrews, climate director at Ecojustice. ...

The group is focusing its lawsuit on the Ford government's decision to scale back emission targets set by the Liberals in 2015.

The previous plan called for a 37-per-cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The reduction target climbed to 80 per cent by 2050.

Under the Progressive Conservatives, Ontario now plans to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. There is no longer a 2050 target.

The PCs have also repealed a cap-and-trade agreement that gave companies incentives to reduce carbon emissions. They are also in the process of challenging a carbon tax imposed by Ottawa to take its place. ...

"People are very focused on other things; on making money, focusing on the economy, that they don't think about their connection to mother earth," said applicant Shaelyn Wabegijig, 22.

Wabegijig, who grew up at Rama First Nation near Orillia, said she's concerned about having children if the effects of climate change continue to worsen.


Non-profit organizations and charities are not only suffering from Ford government cuts but even more so from the ongoing fast changes done without consultation to these organizations. 

Charities and other non-profit agencies in Ontario say the Ford government has created "a climate of uncertainty and volatility" that is making it harder for them to do their work. 

The umbrella group representing the 58,000 non-profit organizations in the province says that while budget cuts are having an impact in the sector, most agencies are more concerned that the government has made changes rapidly and without consultation.  ...

Non-profit groups "are now operating in a climate of growing uncertainty and volatility," says the report, which includes the results of a survey of nearly 450 agencies. "Organizations aren't just worried about having their funding streams cut, but also the speed and uncertainty of the decision-making process, as well as the lack of information, details, and engagement with the sector by the provincial government," the report reads.  

One anonymous survey respondent expects major changes will result from the government's review of granting agencies, but added: "We just don't know what [the changes] are, when they'll be announced, or even what process is being used and who's involved." ...

The report raises concerns about the "rapid transformation" resulting from the government's overhauls of health care and employment training systems and it urges the government to consult with the non-profit sector before making significant reforms. "We consult on virtually every single thing we do," said Vic Fedeli, minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, in a news conference on Friday. ...

Non-profits "are struggling with how to have enough resources to do the work that they need to do in their communities and to keep on top of all the changes that are happening in the public policy area of the provincial government," said Cathy Taylor, executive director of the Ontario Nonprofit Network.  ...

The speed at which changes were made, the government's reversals on some changes, and the financial cuts have together "made it difficult for non-profits to operate," Taylor said in an interview. 

Nearly 30 per cent of non-profits surveyed said their budgets decreased as a result of provincial changes, and another 11 per cent were still uncertain whether their budgets would be cut several months after the budget was tabled. 

Some agencies surveyed raised concerns about the upheaval caused by the province abruptly changing funding commitments part-way through a non-profit's financial year.