Ford government scandals and cabinet minister changes

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jerrym wrote:

There are growing calls that Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Lisa MacLeod resign over her profanity-laden comments. 

I find it absolutely fascinating that "Lisa MacLeod yells at billionaire" is the story and not "Billionaire who bribed his way out of fraud charges and lives in Barbados for tax evasion but still somehow uses Canadian health care can call Doug Ford and demand he fire a cabinet minister for hurting his feelings".


cco wrote:
jerrym wrote:

There are growing calls that Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Lisa MacLeod resign over her profanity-laden comments. 

I find it absolutely fascinating that "Lisa MacLeod yells at billionaire" is the story and not "Billionaire who bribed his way out of fraud charges and lives in Barbados for tax evasion but still somehow uses Canadian health care can call Doug Ford and demand he fire a cabinet minister for hurting his feelings".

If you are going to quote me have it at least reflect what what I was saying rather than selectively picking out one point that is misleading to the entire context of what I said. 

jerrym wrote:

There are growing calls that Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport Lisa MacLeod resign over her profanity-laden comments. ...

However, she has been involved in a far bigger scandal. Lisa MacLeod had been in charge of the autism funding file as the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services before being demoted to Sports Minister. However, she was not just incompetent in the latter, her ministry was involved in fraud, with the evidence being provided by one of the Conservative's own MPPs. 

A leaked government document prepared by one of Ford's own MPPs, Roman Baber, reveals that the government lied about there being a waiting list of 23,000 for autism funding, even though there was no waiting list. This was the excuse used to greatly reduce autism funding. 


My apologies, jerrym – I was referring to the media coverage of the story as a whole, not your post in particular.


The continuing phenomenon of right-wing politicians continuing to best so-called progressive alternative choices in such times should raise serious questions and a radical program to fix this obvious, existential problem.


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.

Beer Store

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 NoETFO's Building Better Schools campaign, Canadian Federation of Students OntarioOntario 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 Unionshas 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 breakdownof 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.



While the Ford government cuts programs for the poor and the middle class, it provides $700 million in subsidies to the richest and global-destroying richest industry in the world - the fossil fuel industry.



The Ford government hid a massive sewage leak in Hamilton from the public for more than a year. 

Doug Ford's Ontario government knew about a massive leak of sewage in Hamilton more than a year ago, and the Opposition NDP wants to know why it didn't think to tell anyone.

Some 24 billion litres of untreated sewage leaked into waterways in and around the industrial city between early 2014 and July 18, 2018, when it was discovered and reported to the province, the City of Hamilton said Wednesday.

The New Democrats' Sandy Shaw said it was "beyond disturbing" that the Progressive Conservatives "refused to make (the leak) public" and "refused to step in and help the city with this emergency cleanup."

"Minister, my constituents would like an answer as to why the ministry did not immediately tell the people of Hamilton when they learned of this incident that posed not only environmental risk but significant risk to human health," the MPP for the riding of Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas wrote in a letter to Jeff Yurek, the environment minister. ...

Shaw responded with the same question she had for Yurek, now directed at Rickford: why didn't you tell us then?

Rickford did not directly respond to accusations of outright refusal to act either to help with cleanup or notify the public. He said a second order was issued last week "requiring clarification and confirmation of impacts, recommendations for remediation, mitigation and monitoring." ...

One city report obtained by the Spectator showed $2 million worth of dredging might be necessary, with an estimated 5,600 cubic metres — or 560 truckloads — of “organic sediment” identified for potential removal along the creek.


The NDP want Ontario's Chief Electoral Officer to investigate whether the Ford government violated the law by having a third party advertiser act in coordination with a political party or candidate make pro-government newspaper ads about the education labour dispute. 

The Ontario NDP wants provincial election officials to investigate any possible links between the Progressive Conservative government and an obscure group called Vaughan Working Families, which was behind a series of pro-government newspaper ads.

The ads, which ran last weekend in The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star, the National Post and the Toronto Sun, echo the government’s language in its labour dispute with the province’s teachers and accuse the unions of using students as “pawns.” The ads appeared just after talks between the government and the unions broke down and teachers vowed to continue an escalating series of one-day walkouts.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce – who represents a Vaughan riding – said Mr. Lecce had no role in or any knowledge of the ads before they ran. The office of Premier Doug Ford and the PC Party also issued similar statements.

On Friday, NDP MPP Peter Tabuns wrote a letter to Greg Essensa, Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer, calling for an investigation into whether Vaughan Working Families was working “in collusion” with the PC government, which Mr. Tabuns said would violate the Election Finances Act.

Under the act, third-party political advertisers are not allowed to “act in co-ordination” with political parties or candidates. The NDP has also raised concerns that the ads ran as two Ottawa-area by-elections are under way. Elections Ontario said Friday it does not comment on investigations.

The name Vaughan Working Families was registered in 2018 by a corporation called Vaughan Health Campus of Care. According to corporate records, the corporation’s president is prominent Toronto-area developer Michael DeGasperis, a donor to the PC Party. Mr. DeGasperis did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawyer who registered the name, who is also listed as a director of Vaughan Health Campus of Care, is Quinto Annibale, a large donor to the PC Party whom the Ford government has named vice-chairman of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

In a story published online Thursday evening, the Toronto Star reported that invoices for the ads had been sent to the offices of Mr. Annibale’s Etobicoke law firm, Loopstra Nixon LLP. The law firm’s address is also the listed address for Vaughan Health Campus of Care. Full-page ads would typically cost tens of thousands of dollars each.

Mr. Annibale did not respond to requests for comment. On Friday, the law firm’s managing partner, Allan Ritchie, issued a statement saying that Mr. Annibale serves on the board of Vaughan Working Families/Vaughan Health Campus of Care in his personal capacity. The statement said the views expressed by the group were not those of the law firm or its staff, which hold a “wide variety of political opinions.”

Mr. Tabuns acknowledged he had no evidence that the government was involved in co-ordinating the ads. But he said the situation warranted a probe.



Ontario is lagging behind all other provinces in COVID-19 testing according to data from provincial and territorial health authorities. Despite Ontario's considerable per capita wealth, the Ford government did not put the resources this crisis requires into fighting it, even when compared to other provinces and territories, responding only in the last few days to getting more tests done. How many people died as a result of this? 

The data below comes from the updated April 6th graph included with the article, not the original data from a week earlier that is in the original article.

Ontario has tested fewer people for COVID-19 on a per capita basis than any other province amid the surging number of new coronavirus cases, according to an analysis from Global News.

As of April 6th,Ontario had completed just 510 tests for COVID-19 per 100,000 residents, trailing well behind Alberta with 1,468 tests per 100,000 and other provinces and territories.

Northwest Territories has completed 2,745 per 100,000

Yukon has completed 1,833 per 100,000

Alberta has completed 1,468 tests per 100,000

Saskatchewan has completed 1,145 per 100,000

Quebec, has completed 1,124 tests per 100,000

 Nova Scotia has completed 1,000 per 100,000

 BC has completed 949 tests per 100,000

Manitoba has completed 944 per 100,000

Newfoundland has completed 684 per 100,000

New Brunswick has completed 682 per 100,000

Prince Edward Island has completed 635 per 100,000

Ontario had completed 510 tests per 100,000

Ontario has faced criticism over its backlog of tests as thousands of residents wait anxiously at home for results.


In Ontario the Ford government has had long-term care home owners pushing it to eliminate annual inspections of these homes. CBC National reported tonight that many such Ontario homes have not been inspected since 2017 0r 2018, basically since Ford has been elected. 

This of course has helped greatly increase the number of deaths at long-term care homes as those homes failing to meet regulatory conditions no longer had to worry about facing sanctions until the death toll mounted. 

Ontario’s long-term care homes are pressing the Ontario government to get rid of mandatory annual inspections as part of its focus on cutting red tape.

Groups that represent the province’s long-term care homes have long asked for an end to annual inspections for all long-term care homes and reducing regulations that they say place an undue burden on an already stressed sector. The head of one of two major organizations says she is optimistic the province is listening to those concerns. ...

It is a possibility that worries Jane Meadus, staff lawyer and the institutional advocate with the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly. Regulations covering long-term care homes are there for a reason — in some cases because of previous harm done to residents — said Meadus.

“Inspecting long term care homes that provide care to vulnerable seniors is not red tape. It is something that is necessary.”


The Ford government's ending of the vast majority of quality inspections of long term care homes ha played a major role in allowing to the spread of COVID-19 and the death of their residents. CBC found "Ontario quietly stopped 'resident quality inspections' at care homes. Exclusive data reveals those inspections were key to catching 87 per cent of infection control violations" as discussed in this video from CBC National News (

Here is more information on the impact of the Ford government's ending of quality inspections of long term care homes, which was done without any public announcement, leaving only inspections based on complaints where the owners of the care home know in advance an inspection is coming and therefore clean up any problems.

A CBC News investigation found that only nine long-term care homes in Ontario received a so-called resident quality inspection, or RQI, in 2019. RQIs are meant to be more proactive, comprehensive, unannounced inspections conducted annually rather than the reactive inspections that follow complaints or particular incidents.

People with loved ones in long-term care homes in Ontario might assume those facilities are thoroughly inspected every year to ensure they are in compliance with safety standards and regulations as the Ontario Ministry of Long-Term Care says they should be.

The province says on its website that each care home undergoes an annual inspection that includes interviews with residents, family members and staff “as well as direct observations of how care is being delivered.”

But CBC News has learned that last year, only nine out of 626 homes in Ontario actually received so-called resident quality inspections (RQIs).

CBC News reviewed inspection reports from the last five years for all long-term care homes in the province and found that while most received a comprehensive resident quality inspection in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the number dropped to just over half in 2018 and just nine last year. ...

“It’s incredibly frustrating to hear this,” she [Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition,] said. “We have been fighting for a regular, unannounced inspection each year for all of the homes since the 1990s, and we’ve won it, and then we’ve seen it deregulated, then we won it again. And then quietly behind the scenes, it stops happening again, and we have to fight and win it again.”

The inspections in long-term care homes fall primarily into two categories: complaint and critical incident inspections, which are reactive, and RQIs, which are broader and proactive.

In the case of critical incident inspections, homes usually know in advance that they will come under scrutiny. “They prepare the home, and the workers tell us, they staff up, they clean up the home,” said Mehra. ...

The Ontario homes that have had multiple deaths from COVID-19 were not among the few that had resident quality inspections last year. For example, Pinecrest in Bobcaygeon, where as of Tuesday, 29 residents had died, had its last RQI in June 2018. The same is true for Seven Oaks in Toronto, where 22 people have died of COVID-19.

Eatonville in Toronto, where 27 residents have died, and Anson Place in Hagersville, with 19 deaths, each last had an RQI in 2017. In 2017, about 85 per cent of homes in the province received a full inspection. But since then, only 60 per cent of homes have had one.


The Ford government's "enhanced plan to fight COVID-19 in the province's long-term care homes" is completely inadequate. It's restriction that care workers can only work at one facility is only for 14 days, does not cover workers who come from temp agencies and does not come into effect until April 22nd. Furthermore, it does not raise long term care workers pay or benefits or benefits or the part-time nature of many of their jobs, which has helped create high turnover rates and poor quality care. It also does not return to the 'resident quality inspections' at care homes that were key to catching 87 per cent of infection control violations, as noted in the previous post.

The plan also includes risk and capacity assessments for all homes as well as enhanced training and education for support staff who are working in these facilities. These new measures complement an emergency order issued Tuesday that limits long-term care home staff to working at only one facility in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

This was welcome news for the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), Ontario Nurses' Association and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, all three of whom had been calling for staff to be restricted to a single facility. They argued that unless the province ordered employers to keep the same staff, the virus would continue to spread to those most vulnerable.

However, Fullerton clarified that the order is not indefinite, and will expire 14 days after it was issued. “This is a temporary measure to allow for a reduction of the spread of COVID-19.”

Staff members who do work at multiple facilities will be allowed to take a leave absence to accommodate the order, according to Fullerton.

Furthermore, The temporary emergency order will only come into effect on April 22, in order to give long-term care homes enough time to prepare. ...

Horwath said the new measures are not good enough. “We are concerned that there are huge loopholes in that emergency order. It still does not cover, for example, people who work for temp agencies that can be assigned to various homes,” Horwath said.

The plan also did not address the issues of workers being grossly underpaid and workers still doing part-time hours, Horwath said.

“I guess a baby step is better than no step whatsoever. But Mr. Ford’s passion needs to be followed up with action that’s actually going to hit the mark.” Horwath said it is also unacceptable that these measures won’t go into effect until next week. She said the province should have undertaken these measures to protect residents of long-term care homes weeks ago.

“Everybody knew long-term care was in a crisis,” Horwath said. “And so here we are now in the midst of this crisis, and it shouldn’t be another week.”


Welcome back Jerry. I'm so relieved that you are well on the mend.


While Ford has looked shaken at his TV presentations because of the impact of COVID-19, especially with regard to the large number of deaths at seniors care homes, his government is a major part of the problem.

This scandal also includes former Premier Mike Harris who privatized a large part of Ontario's care home system and now is the chair of the private sector's Chartwell Retirement Residences.

The private sector care homes are also major contributors to the Progressive Conservatives. 

It took the pandemic to break an already compromised system. In Canada, almost half of the approximately 1,000 deaths from the virus as of April 14 occurred in long-term care homes. In Ontario, where I live, as of April there were 14 COVID-19 infections in 114 of 626 facilities.

At a news conference, Ontario Premier Doug Ford looked shaken. He said, among other things, that he would make it illegal for individuals to work in more than one care home simultaneously, a situation which potentially allows the virus to either enter or leave the premises with those workers.

But Ford has been a big part of the problem. Having people work in multiple locations has become commonplace primarily because the corporations that own for-profit long-term care homes hire workers part-time so that they can pay them poorly and avoid providing benefits. Until now, the Ford government has turned a blind eye to this. As well, the previous Liberal government was set to raise the minimum wage in Ontario, a move that would have helped many long-term care workers. Yet one of Ford's first acts when elected in 2018 was to cancel that planned increase.

Ford has much to answer for. The CBC reported on April 14 that in 2019 only nine of the province's 626 homes received a comprehensive resident quality inspection, or RQI. The CBC reviewed reports from the last five years for all homes in the province. They found that most received RQIs in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but that number dropped to just over half in 2018 and to only nine in 2019. To be blunt, that means that under Kathleen Wynne's government there were a good number of comprehensive inspections, but Ford cancelled almost all of them. ...

Mike Harris, who was Ontario's premier from 1995-2002, responded to growing waiting lists in 1998 by announcing that more than $1 billion would be spent to create 20,000 new spaces. When the contracts were awarded for construction of beds, 68 per cent of them were handed to the private sector. Three giant companies, Extendicare, Leisureworld and Central Park Lodges, received 40 per cent of the contracted spaces. The public was to pay for building facilities to be owned and operated by corporations to enrich their shareholders.

Provincial election finance records showed that between 1995 and 1999 for-profit long-term care companies donated almost $340,000 to the Ontario Conservative party. That did not include thousands of dollars donated to the provincial leadership campaigns of Ernie Eves, Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty.

One of the biggest players in the private sector long-term care field is Chartwell Retirement Residences. Mike Harris now sits comfortably as the chair of Chartwell's board of directors and according to Unifor, another union in the sector, Harris pulls down $237,000 a year for this part-time job. Meanwhile, Unifor, says the company pays only the minimum wage to many of its front-line employees.

The 2006 NUPGE report says that the long-term care model promoted by Harris drains the profits from care into the pockets of owners and shareholders. The public sector model provides better care and keeps people safer than a for-profit system governed by the same market forces that motivate software developers, cable companies and fast food chains. Yet, Harris and some other premiers consistently pushed privatization. But the exploitative practices in the privatized for-profit sector have also had a negative and cascading effect upon the quality of care for clients, not to mention the wages and working conditions of care providers.


Amazing just as families in need in Ontario start to get financial help from the Federal government, the Ford Conservatives decide to claw back those funds from social assistance programs, hurting families at the worst time possible. It's time for Mr. Ford to show that this personal growth of the past month is for real and to back down from this hurtful policy.


The following news release from the Ontario Health Coalition outlines the desperate situation in Ontario's long-term care homes, which has been facilitated by the Ford government's actions.

In some ways, long-term care was a COVID-19 storm waiting to happen.

The virus is most deadly to elderly people and those with pre-existing health conditions — the main demographics for long-term-care facilities, which across the country have been ravaged by COVID-19.

But government decisions have made it worse. Combine the pre-existing risk with the chronic understaffing and underfunding that have plagued long-term care in Ontario and across the country, and you have the makings of an accelerating disaster. ...

In a few horrifying cases, medical staff have abandoned their long-term-care jobs, leaving the sick to die and the living to suffer. And even with the best care possible, residents have died alone, their family members not allowed inside to say goodbye.

But the long-term-care outbreaks have been especially bad in Ontario, while some provinces have been weeks ahead in making key moves to address the crisis. ...

The problem struck British Columbia first, as a cascade of cases and deaths at North Vancouver’s Lynn Valley Care Centre caught national attention in March. The province has made several critical moves since then.

B.C. barred long-term-care staffers from working at more than one facility on March 27. Many have part-time hours at multiple workplaces, and must work at several to make ends meet. But the practice, flagged as a problem after the deadly SARS outbreak in 2003, has also allowed for COVID-19 to spread rapidly between care homes.

The Ontario government says it has acted quickly and often to stop the spread of the virus in long-term care. But B.C. acted weeks earlier, and critics say key problems should have been addressed a month ago. #onpoli

Days later, B.C.issued a six-month order requiring care homes to top up those workers’ wages. (Quebec, which has also massively struggled with long-term-care outbreaks, topped up long-term-care staff wages earlier this month as well).

Ontario didn’t issue an order barring long-term-care staff from working at multiple facilities until Wednesday. It doesn’t take effect until April 22, lasts two weeks and leaves a loophole for temp staffers.

“Restrictions much tighter than these should have been put in place weeks ago,” Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said Wednesday.

And though Premier Doug Ford originally said he’d top up Ontario’s notoriously low wages for such workers, the province has since deferred that to the federal government and encouraged long-term-care homes to give staff full-time hours. ...

The non-profit Ontario Health Coalition said in a statement Friday that the province’s actions fall short of what’s needed.

“We are increasingly frustrated with the disconnect between the statements of the premier and what is actually being put into the regulations, directives and guidance issued by his own government,” executive director Natalie Mehra said in the press release.

“We are inundated with calls and emails from families with loved ones in long-term care and staff in the homes, crying, afraid, furious about the lack of testing, even in homes with outbreaks.”

Doris Grinspun, CEO of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, said the province should have acted a month ago, when her organization first raised concerns. She also said there is much more that remains to be done.

“No one gives us back time,” Grinspun said in an interview Thursday. “We can only do the best we do with the time we have left, until there is a vaccine.”


The situation in Ontario's long-term care homes is now so desperate that the Ford government has asked for Canadian Forces to send personnel to help deal with the outbreaks in the care homes.

The Canadian Forces are preparing to deploy medical personnel to Ontario, where COVID-19 has ripped through the province’s long-term care system like “raging wildfire,” leaving staff overworked and desperate as they try to curb a mounting death toll.

During a Wednesday press conference, Premier Doug Ford announced Ontario is formally requesting assistance from the federal government, including Canadian Forces personnel and Public Health Agency of Canada resources. Initially, those personnel will be directed to deploy to five “priority homes,” Ford said. Personnel will provide staffing relief and other support for the day-to-day operations of the homes. ...

Ford said that the requested assistance from Canadian Forces personnel and the Public Health Agency of Canada is just one small part of Ontario’s efforts to deal with COVID-19.

“Their support will provide staffing relief so staff can focus on the care of the residents,” he said of the request to send the military personnel to long-term care facilities. “They will assist with operations, co-ordination or medical care, logistics and general assistance to support the day-to-day operations.” ...

Of all 32 people who’ve now died of COVID-19 related complications in Ottawa, 23 have been at long-term care homes, retirement homes and hospitals dealing with outbreaks. Eleven of those deaths have occurred at one facility, the Montfort Long-Term Care Centre on Montreal Road.

The hard-hit Almonte Country Haven, where 23 of the 82 residents have died of COVID-19 complications, reported Wednesday that “a significant number of residents are showing signs of improvement, with more than 10 residents having resolved symptoms.”


 The Globe and Mail is reporting 70% of Ontario's Covid-19 deaths, are in long-term care homes. 

The Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) have gone to court, to seek "an order compelling three long-term care homes owned by Rykka Care Centres to comply with provincial infection control and health and safety standards," because the care homes have kept those sick with Covid-19 alongside the healthy. The ONA is also challenging the government's Public Health Ontario statement that "nurses treating residents in long-term care homes with COVID-19 should use surgical masks rather than the N95 version."

In Ontario, almost 70 per cent of all deaths have occurred in long-term care, according to the latest data. Provincial health officials said Wednesday 447 long-term care residents, as well as a staff member, have died of COVID-19. The province has recorded 659 deaths in total, and there have been outbreaks in 127 long-term care homes. ...

Mr. Ford said military personnel will support the “day-to-day operations" of the homes, including co-ordination and medical care. He would not identify the five homes. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Health Officer, later said the province was looking for about 250 personnel. ...

Mr. Ford’s call for military aid came the same day the Ontario Nurses’ Association was in court, seeking an order compelling three long-term care homes owned by Rykka Care Centres to comply with provincial infection control and health and safety standards. The ONA accuses the homes of keeping residents sickened with COVID-19 among the healthy, causing the virus to spread. The association also alleges that the homes “severely limited” staff members’ access to proper personal protective equipment, including N95 respirator masks.

One of the homes, Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville, west of Toronto, is among the hardest hit in Ontario with 27 deaths. Of the 74 remaining residents, 44 are sick.

Ian Dick, a lawyer for Rykka, told Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Morgan that Anson Place is exempt from a provision requiring sick residents to be segregated from healthy ones because it is a small home.

The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney-General intervened at the hearing to defend policies governing the appropriate use of N95 masks in long-term care homes.

On March 10, Public Health Ontario said nurses treating residents in long-term care homes with COVID-19 should use surgical masks rather than the N95 version.

The ONA’s chief executive officer, Beverly Mathers, says in an affidavit she was “shocked” by Public Health Ontario’s advisory on masks.

The other two homes owned by Rykka are Eatonville Care Centre, the hardest-hit long-term care residence in Toronto with 36 deaths as of Wednesday, and Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York.


The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) have won an important court battle that requires four long-term care homes in Ontario, where 60 seniors have died, immediately address health and safety issues related to COVID-19 for nurses working in these homes, where management has not provided the nurses with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Once again the Ford government has failed in its most important duty, the protection of the lives of those living in Ontario.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ordered four long-term care homes in the province – including Henley Place in London – to better protect staff from COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) had requested the injunction earlier this week, accusing the homes of failing to adequately protect their staff from the novel coronavirus.

The decision requires the facilities to comply with provincial infection control and health standards

Two residents of the London facility have died since an outbreak was first reported on March 28. Henley Place reported a total of 10 positive cases on April 11. It would not say if any of the people infected are staff members. ...

In his ruling, Justice Edward Morgan wrote: "Where the lives of nurses and patients are placed at risk, the balance of convenience favours those measures that give primacy to the health and safety of medical personnel and those that they treat."

He said that nurses are "sacrificing their personal interests to those under their care…not only for the immediate benefit of their patients, but for the benefit of society at large."

ONA, which represents 68,000 registered nurses and health-care professionals, had asked the court "on an urgent basis" to issue mandatory orders addressing what the union described as serious health and safety problems, including shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks and gowns. ...

"ONA is thrilled that our members will have access to the proper protective equipment they need to protect themselves, and therefore their residents, and that the homes' administrators will be forced to follow infection control practices — and put safety over profit," said ONA president Vicki McKenna in a statement Thursday night.

McKenna noted that Morgan "quoted the precautionary principle — to err on the side of caution and take all measures reasonable to keep workers safe — in his ruling."

The other three homes named by the Ontario Nurses Association were: Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville, Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, and Hawthorne Place Care Centre in North York.

About 60 residents have died in total in the three facilities.


The situation is not improving in long term care facilities in Ontario as the Ford government continues to fumble the ball. 

Ontario has recorded a significant spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases as the death toll in the province surpassed 1,500.

The province confirmed 477 new cases of the virus on Friday, the biggest single-day spike since May 2, bringing the total number of patients in Ontario to 19,598. Ontario also recorded 63 new COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the total to 1,540. ...

According to Friday's epidemiological summary, of all deceased patients in Ontario, seven were between the ages of 20 and 39, 66 people were between the ages of 40 and 59 and 388 people were between the ages of 60 and 79.

People, who are over the age of 80, continue to be the hardest hit group. So far, at least 1,079 people in this age group of have died.

There are currently 234 COVID-19 outbreaks at long-term care homes, according to the province.


A just completed investigation by the Toronto Star into the long term care crisis in Ontario concluded that: 

"For-profit nursing homes have four times as many COVID-19 deaths as city-run homes".

Residents of for-profit nursing homes in Ontario are far more likely to be infected with COVID-19 and die than those who live in non-profit and municipally-run homes, the Star has found.

A Star analysis of public data on long-term-care homes shows the facilities have been hit by outbreaks at approximately the same rate, regardless of ownership. But once COVID-19 makes it into a nursing home, the outcomes have been far worse for residents of for-profit homes.


The Ontario NDP is demanding a public inquiry into the long-term care crisis in the province. 

In an interview on CBC's Power and Politics Ontario NDP Leader Andrew Horwath and Mark Zigler, who was the lead lawyer in the Wettlaufer Long-Term Care, discussed the crisis. Horwath noted that  "More than 1,200 long-term care residents in Ontario have died from COVID-19 out of a total of 1700 deaths in the province, and that there are outbreaks in more than 200 facilities across the province." Here is the youtube video of the interview(


Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath. (File). 

TORONTO, Ont. - With COVID-19 outbreaks in more than 200 long-term care homes across the province and more than 1,200 deaths, the official opposition is calling for answers. During a special sitting of the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday, NDP leader Andrea Horwath asked if the government will launch a full public inquiry into the situation in long-term care, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and decades before.

“The system is definitely broken,” Horwath said at Queen’s Park. “Will he (Premier Doug Ford) put partisanship aside and commit to a full independent public inquiry so we can learn what went wrong and how to fix this deeply broken system.”

Ford said there is going to be a review of the system that he says has been broken for decades and it will be up to the entire Legislature to fix it, but he did not commit to a public inquiry....

“Families with loved ones in long-term care are demanding answers and deserve a full public inquiry that will give them those answers,” Horwath said. ...

Opposition members also raised concerns regarding access to proper personal protective equipment for front-line workers in long-term care facilities. ...

“On Friday the premier insisted that PPE was available to frontline staff and personal support workers, but even as he was saying that, there were government plans to water down access to PPE,” Horwath said. “Will the premier make public the exact type and amount of supplies of PPE that are available.”

The NDP referred to a memo issued by the Ministry of Children and Community Services date May 8.

The memo reads: “For basic prevention, staff should wear cloth (non-medical) masks at all congregate care sites regardless of infection status. All suspect (symptomatic) and confirmed cases should be isolated in a single room and enhanced precautions must be deployed. All staff should use Droplet and Contact Precautions if they come within two metres of a suspected or confirmed case, this means enhanced PPE must be worn (surgical mask, eye protection, gown, gloves).”

A previous memo dated April 27 called for staff to wear masks in all congregate care sites regardless of infection status, but did not state non-medical.


The Ontario NDP put forward a motion for a full independent inquiry into the Ontario's long term care (LTC) system following the deaths of 1,413 in  LTC homes. The system needs a drastic overhaul and, while many of the problems are obvious, a deep analysis needs to go into what a high quality system should be that replaces it. 

Ontario’s NDP Leader calls it “unconscionable” after the Conservative government threw cold water on its motion to hold a full independent public inquiry into the province’s long-term care system.

The motion was introduced Tuesday afternoon, just hours after the Ford government said it would hold an independent commission into how COVID-19 spread through long-term care and retirement homes across the province.

“For the government to review the government with a behind-closed-doors government-controlled commission is not good enough,” declared Andrea Horwath.

Of the 1,919 deaths so far across Ontario, 1,413 have been in long-term care homes, and there are outbreaks at 190 facilities as of Tuesday.

The Ontario government also requested the aid of the Canadian Armed Forces at five facilities in the province.

The commission is not expected to start its work until September. In the meantime, the government will finalize details like how to protect residents and staff from future outbreaks, and when it will report back to the province.

However, the NDP said only a public inquiry could find and fix the problems that plague long-term care. It noted a step the government could take right away to protect staff and residents would be to make a $4 an hour raise for personal support workers working during the pandemic permanent. It also pointed to creating minimum care hours for each resident and regular inspections mandatory.

“To fix the system,” said Horwath, “we need to give a voice to seniors, workers, experts, and families who have lost loved ones. We need to closely examine the role of private, for-profit corporations.”

“Voting no to a public inquiry is salt in the wound of families grieving the loss of loved ones to COVID-19 in long-term care, and for health care heroes who are run off their feet and still pleading for protective equipment,” she continued. “It is a cause for all of us to worry that the painful, dangerous, decades-in-the-making problems in long-term care are not going to change.”


Below is a summary of the military report on the horrendous state of the long term care homes that the soldiers entered. The tragedy is that there are many others.

A military report released Tuesday shed light on the "gut-wrenching" conditions of five long-term care homes in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A military report released Tuesday shed light on the "gut-wrenching" conditions of five long-term care homes in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report, written by Brigadier-General C.J.J. Mialkowski, outlines the grim state inside the facilities, claiming not only that there were staffing shortages and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), but also that there were bug infestations, old food trays stacked inside resident rooms and that patients were observed “crying for help with staff not responding.”

The homes included Orchard Villa in Pickering, Altamount Care Community in Scarborough, Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place in North York and Holland Christian Homes' Grace Manor in Brampton.

Based on two weeks of observation, the CAF said they identified a number of medical, professional and technical issues at all five long-term care homes.

Among them were significant allegations claiming that staff used the same PPE—gloves, masks and gowns—while treating multiple patients. In at least one of the homes, the CAF said that patients who were COVID-19 positive were allowed to wander through the facility.

Military members said they witnessed residents “crying out for help” while waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours for a staff member to respond.

The report also claims that some residents were force fed to the point where audible choking could be heard. In two of the homes, military members reported seeing bug infestations, including ants, cockroaches and flies. ...

Eatonville Care Centre - Etobicoke, Ont.

At Eatonville Care Centre, where at least 42 residents died after contracting COVID-19, the military alleges that residents who had tested positive for the disease were left to wander throughout the facility. They also claim that staff “are under the impression” that they don’t need to change their PPE if they are treating two residents who both have the same infection. ...

Other allegations include:

  •  Reusing hypodermoclysis supplies “even after sterility has been obviously compromised”
  •  Inadequate dosing intervals for some medications
  •  CAF reported nearly a dozen incidents of “bleeding fungal infections” due to poor peri-catheterization car
  •  The facility is understaffed during the day and new staff haven’t been trained or oriented

Hawthorne Place Care Centre - North York, Ont.

At Hawthorne Place, where at least 39 residents have passed away as a result of COVID-19, the military described a “significant deterioration of cleanliness standards,” including “significant gross fecal contamination” in numerous patient rooms as well as ants and cockroaches. They also said that military members witnessed “forceful feeding” of residents, causing “audible choking.”

Other allegations include:


  •  Reusing hypodermoclysis supplies “even after sterility has been obviously compromised”
  •  Inadequate dosing intervals for some medications
  •  CAF reported nearly a dozen incidents of “bleeding fungal infections” due to poor peri-catheterization car
  •  The facility is understaffed during the day and new staff haven’t been trained or oriented ...

Hawthorne Place Care Centre - 

North York, Ont.

At Hawthorne Place, where at least 39 residents have passed away as a result of COVID-19, the military described a “significant deterioration of cleanliness standards,” including “significant gross fecal contamination” in numerous patient rooms as well as ants and cockroaches. They also said that military members witnessed “forceful feeding” of residents, causing “audible choking.”

Other allegations include:


  •  Inappropriate use of PPE by all staffing levels, including doctors
  •  Staff put food and important belongings outside of residents' reach
  •  Lack of linens and laundry resulted in patients sleeping on bare mattresses
  •  Multiple falls without required assessments
  •  Nurses and PSWs observed not changing PPE for several hours while moving between patient room
  •  Topical prescription medicine shared between residents
  •  Wound care supplies “insufficient or locked away”
  •  Shortage led to residents sleeping on beds with no linen, which resulted in “increased skin breakdown” ...

Orchard Villa - Pickering, Ont.

Orchard Villa has been one of the hardest-hit long-term care homes, with at least 77 residents dead and 346 infected. More than 90 staff members have also been diagnosed with COVID-19. At the top of the CAF report, Mialkowski notes that cockroaches and flies were “present” and the hallway outside a patient’s room smelled of rotten food.


  •  Patients were moved into rooms that were not cleaned due to miscommunications

Altamount Care Community - Scarborough, Ont.

At least 52 residents at Altamount Care Community have died after contracting COVID-19. The CAF report alleges that staffing issues have led to inadequate nutrition at the facility and that most residents reported not having received three meals per day. ...

Other allegations include:


  •  A non-verbal resident wrote a letter alleging “neglect and abuse by a PSW”
  •  Safety concerns regarding the clinical skills of staff
  •  Insufficient wound care materials and supplies
  •  The current staff to patient ratio does not allow for care beyond “the most basic daily requirements.”
  •  Staff members avoid shrouding or providing post-mortem care to deceased patients and leave it to military staff

Holland Cristian Homes’ Grace Manor - Brampton, Ont.

At Holland Christian Homes' Grace Manor, where at least 11 residents have died after contracting COVID-19, there were reported incidents of staff moving from COVID-19-positive areas to other units without changing PPE. The report also found that staff wore the same pair of gloves for several tasks involving different patients and they were cleaning the gloves with hand sanitizer. ...

Other allegations include:

  •  Leaving food in a resident’s mouth while they are sleeping
  •  Aggressively repositioning a resident
  •  Improper sterile technique with dressing changes

CAF recommends staying at homes for another 30 days

The military report did note that conditions at the long-term care facilities have improved since they arrived and that a military presence has had “an immediate effect on both daily operations and incremental facility recovery.”

“From a command and medical perspective, challenges were expected at these facilities given the severe deficiencies and shortfalls that existed/exist at the provincially-prioritized assignments,” the report said. “The CAF was meant to go to locations with the greatest need of our support. This is a reflection of the conditions of those distressed locations.” ...

The buck stops with Ford, union says

A union representing more than 60,000 healthcare and community service workers across Ontario said they welcome the CAF report on disturbing conditions within the long-term care homes.

“Our union and our frontline members have been ringing the alarm bells throughout this entire crisis. Unfortunately, we have had to fight the provincial government every step of the way to ensure long-term care companies were keeping workers and residents safe,” Service Employees International Union President Sharleen Stewart said in a statement on Tuesday.

Stewart said that the province’s decision to eliminate regulations that required background checks for new hires “was a recipe for disaster” and that they ignored their pleas for more inspections and investigations into the condition of long-term care homes.

“Instead of helping, Doug Ford has made long-term care worse for workers and residents,” she said. “Doug Ford has refused to take action on increased staff-to-resident ratios. Doug Ford has capped the wages of the lowest-paid workers in long-term care. Doug Ford eliminated paid sick days for vulnerable essential workers. Doug Ford has limited inspections in long-term care. These decisions came from his desk.”

“The buck stops with him.”


Below is a closer look at the companies behind the five long term care homes whose horrendous conditions were referred to in the military report on long term care homes. This is proof that all these private care homes and others across Canada need to be turned over to the public sector with high standards of care and wages ensured. 

New data from the Ontario Health Coalition shows 1,629 residents have died at long-term care and retirement residences and 10 staff have died as of May 19. ...

Altamont Care Community, located in Scarborough, where 52 people have died from COVID-19, is owned by Sienna Senior Living, among the largest for-profit, long-term care providers in Canada.

The company owns 37 long-term care facilities and another 27 retirement residences in Ontario. It owns another 19 long-term care and retirement residences in British Columbia.

Sienna Living made a $7.5-million profit in 2019, down from a $21.8-million profit in 2017, according to the company’s financial records. ...

In a military report, Brig. Gen. Conrad Mialkowski alleged most residents at Altamont were not getting three meals a day due to “significant staffing issues” and that there was “poor nutritional status due to underfeeding.” ...

Military personnel also reported that residents had pressure ulcers due to prolonged bed rest, in some cases for weeks.

“No evidence of residents being moved to wheelchair for parts of day, repositioned in bed, or washed properly,” the report read.

The company declined to answer questions about its financial reports but said it was working to make sure the issues identified by the Canadian Forces “are all dealt with immediately and permanently.”

“To deliver the level of care that our seniors deserve, the staffing challenges we face in the long-term care sector must be addressed,” the company said in a statement. “We are committed to working with the government, and our health system partners, to solve this urgent issue. ...

Orchard Villa, a 308-bed facility in Pickering, is owned by Southbridge Care Homes and has been clobbered by the pandemic, with 77 deaths and at least 96 staff and 225 residents testing positive for novel coronavirus. ...

Families have called for a police investigation into Orchard Villa, and have alleged neglect, malnourishment and failure to adhere to infection prevention protocols.

Southbridge owns 37 long-term care homes across the province, including Country Village Homes near Windsor, where there have been 18 deaths. Southbridge is a limited partnership and doesn’t disclose its financial reports.

Orchard Villa is managed by Extendicare, which owns or runs more than 110 homes and retirement residences across the country. ...

According to Extendicare’s financial reports, the company reported a profit of $28.6 million on revenue of $1.13 billion in 2019, compared with a profit of $31.7 million on revenue of $1.12 billion the year before. ...

Southbridge and Extendicare did not respond to requests for comment.

A $40-million proposed class-action suit was filed against Orchard Villa this week alleging negligence. The home has not yet responded to the civil action, filed in the Ontario court. ...

North York’s Hawthorne Place Care Centre, the scene of 46 deaths, and Eatonville Care Centre in Etobicoke, where 42 people died, are operated by Rykka Care Centres, an operating partner of Responsive Management Inc., based in Markham, Ont. ...

The company is privately held doesn’t publicly report its financial returns.

The company also runs Anson Place Care Centre in Hagersville, which has recorded 27 deaths so far.

At Hawthorne nursing home, the military alleged numerous instances of apparent patient neglect and that “little to no disinfection” had been conducted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

CAF members noted an infestation of ants and cockroaches and that some staff “delayed changing soiled residents leading to skin breakdown.” Workers were also “afraid for their jobs” and there was not enough personal protective equipment to keep staff safe, the report said.



Ford and his Chief Medical Officer, Dr. David Williams, seem adrift on how to deal with Covid-19 as Ontario's number of newly infected climb past 400 while Quebec's, the previous leader, falls below 300.

The Ford government clearly knew they had a problem when they brought in a "troubleshooter" from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health in early April. But he didn't directly confront the trouble, which was, at least partly, Williams and his deputy. They never seemed to grasp, or at least explain, what testing was about and actually looked proud when they were able to keep the numbers down versus goosing them upward, where success elsewhere has lain.

The use of tests to get early warning of outbreaks or predict what's about to happen, to "get ahead of this thing" as others say, didn't seem on their radar. I couldn't bear too much of Williams' briefings but did hear him repeat phrases about how the guidelines wouldn't "indicate" a test is necessary if there are no overt symptoms. They tried him on prime time briefings with DOFO and the ministers but that lasted one session by my count, though I admittedly tend to bug out when he starts up. He returned to his own sleepy mid-afternoon slot.

Last week, Williams declared he had to up his game on public messaging, a truly scary thing to picture. He gives briefings behind a desk looking like he's trying to meld his chest and chin into the desktop by way of paper scattered on it while muttering phrases as he shuffles the piles he's nosediving into. He's been personally responsible for reviving a fine phrase: shovelling fog.

If you think that's unfair, consider this, about one of Ford's bursts of frustration: "I didn't see it as taking (us) to the woodshed, myself. We were working on it and when the premier joined our command thing to make some comments and ask some questions, it was right along the line of what we were doing. It's nice when you're exactly on the same direction as the premier."

Ford has dug himself into defending Williams since he's so often claimed he's taking his advice though he depersonalizes it by saying, "the chief medical officer." That would make firing him tough. No one wants to risk losing trust in public officials right now. But the government continues to mortgage its cred to the phrase.

It was presumably a brilliant strategy to give them cover and distance, but it may've handed Williams a power he didn't seek since if Ford dumps him, what gives with all those "advices" he took? He's made himself hostage to probably the least Machiavellian figure at Queen's Park.

Better to treat these experts with a certain bemusement and sometimes contempt: Ford's predecessor, Bill Davis, said he could always find an expert to say what he wanted to hear. This sounds contemptuous of expertise but OTOH makes clear that real decisions always remain in the hands of elected leaders.

DOFO's strength isn't close analysis. It's a bent toward passion and concern. He seems able to yoke that to a sense that the rules don't apply to him but, well, nobody's perfect. Davis knew you could hire people for the complicated stuff and was canny at doing it. Ford's more like leave them in place, parachute in a troubleshooter and hope for the best.




Premier Ford had to backtrack on his denial of systemic racism in Ontario after he received widespread criticism for the comment.

Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said that the government has a zero tolerance for racism while saying that there has been “zero change” to the budget of the Anti-Racism Directorate. However, in 2018 he also cut Ontario's Anti-Racism Directorate's budget. "Cuts by the current Ontario government to the anti-racism directorate is sending the message racialized and Indigenous people in the province don't matter, says NDP anti-racism critic Laura Mae Lindo." (

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says racism does exist in this country, less than 24 hours after saying that Canada doesn't have the same “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the United States.

Ford’s comments came during a sitting at Queen’s Park Wednesday, when the premier was asked by Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath about her call for the immediate collection of race-based data as it relates to COVID-19.

“Of course there’s systemic racism in Ontario, there’s systemic racism across this country,” Ford said. ...

The comments are different from what the premier said Tuesday when asked about protests in cities across the U.S. sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

“Thank God that we’re different than the United States and we don’t have the systemic, deep roots they have had for years,” Ford said at the time, a comment that has been met with sharp criticism online. ...

Leader of the Green Party of Ontario Mike Schreiner reiterated Hunter and Coteau’s points on Wednesday.

“Will the government today commit to fully funding the Anti-Racism directorate and to fully implementing all four of the commitments in the Anti-Racism Act?” Schreiner asked.

NDP MPP Gurratan Singh echoed those calls earlier today while saying that Canada and Ontario are "built upon systemic racism." ...


The auditor general (AG) has concluded that Ford government broke the law when it failed to failed to consult the public on major environmental changes before passing legislation affecting the issue, after the Ontario NDP environmental critic wrote the AG about this violation of environmental legislation.

Ontario NDP environment critic Ian Arthur questions Environment Minister Jeff Yurek at Queen's Park on July 21, 2020 about changes to environmental assessments. 

The Ford government broke the law by passing its omnibus economic recovery bill Tuesday without consulting the public on major environmental changes, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk said.

The government used its majority to pass the legislation, Bill 197, on Tuesday night over the objections of opposition parties. The omnibus bill makes sweeping changes to 20 pieces of legislation, including major rewrites of environmental law. 

Under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, the Progressive Conservative government is required to post measures that impact the environment on the Environmental Registry and consult the public for 30 days. The government posted notices on the registry but did not hold consultations about Bill 197, which was introduced in early July.

“We did give (the government) a heads up indicating that we had concerns on Friday,” Lysyk said in a phone interview with Canada’s National Observer. "We indicated that the bill, before it passes third reading, should be posted on the Environmental Registry (for a full 30 day consultation).” ...

Green advocates have said measures in the bill amount to a rollback of environmental protections.

It includes a rewrite of environmental assessment rules — the government will now decide which projects get environmental assessments, rather than reviewing most public sector projects by default. It also streamlines assessments for projects that do need them, and removes a mechanism that allows the public to ask the environment minister to require a full review of a project. 

The government has said it’s working on more regulations to decide which projects should get assessments, and to define what streamlined assessments would look like. 

The bill also expands the government’s power to override the normal land planning process and potential opposition to projects through Ministerial Zoning Orders (MZOs). 

Premier Doug Ford has previously said the proposed rewrite would be used to speed up infrastructure projects that would help Ontario recover from the financial hit it has taken during COVID-19.

Ontario NDP environment critic Ian Arthur wrote to the province's auditor general to ask for an investigation into Bill 197, which Arthur said may be a violation of the Environmental Bill of Rights. ...

The government previously told National Observer it included a measure in the bill to exempt it from public consultation requirements under the Environmental Bill of Rights.

Lysyk said only the portion of the bill that deals with environmental assessments included that exception, not the one about MZOs. And either way, the government still needs to consult the public, she said, adding that it would be “precedent-setting” to allow the government to retroactively give itself an exception to the rules. “It could undermine public confidence,” she said. 

NDP environment critic Ian Arthur said the legislative process doesn’t work the way government was attempting to use it. “You can’t embed a change that affects legislation being tabled in the legislation itself,” he said.

Arthur said he hopes the bill will be challenged in court. “(The Ford government is) on a mission and it’s to run roughshod over environmental protections, and they’ll do that at any cost,” Arthur said in a phone interview. “I certainly hope that they’re not allowed to do this without some sort of pushback.” ...

In a letter to Lysyk earlier Tuesday, Arthur asked that she and Jerry Demarco, assistant auditor general and commissioner of the environment, review the government’s push to pass the environmental changes in the economic recovery bill. Not only did the government not hold public consultations, he said, it was also using its majority to skip the committee stage and fast-track the bill. ...

Lysyk said late Tuesday that she had not yet received Arthur’s letter, but said her office is already done assessing the issue. “We already concluded on that,” she said. “We will issue a report on compliance or noncompliance with the Environmental Bill of Rights this fall. And we’ll address it in that.”

During question period at Queen’s Park Tuesday, Arthur asked the government to withdraw the “potentially illegal” changes.


Doug Ford has removed MPP Belinda Karahalios from the PC caucus after she voted against legislation giving the govrenment the power to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time, for up to two years. Another indication of the my-way-or-the-highway Ford approach to government. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has removed a Cambridge, Ont., legislator from the Progressive Conservative caucus for voting against a controversial government bill.

Ford issued a statement today saying Belinda Karahalios will no longer sit as a member of the Progressive Conservative caucus.

Karahalios voted against a government bill that grants it powers to extend or amend some emergency orders a month at a time, for up to two years.

She called the bill an “unnecessary overreach” on parliamentary democracy shortly after the vote.

Karahalios was first elected in 2018 and had served as parliamentary assistant to Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. She could not immediately be reached for comment.


The Ontario Registered Nurses Association no longer supports the Ford government’s independent commission into long-term care homes because it will drag out changes that need to occur now, namely increased staffing and PPE. 

The CEO of Ontario’s professional nursing association says she no longer supports the Ford government’s independent commission into long-term care homes, saying it will lead to more political foot-dragging and inaction.

Doris Grinspun, chief executive officer of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, said the government should instead focus on increasing staffing and ensuring a six-month supply of personal protective equipment or PPE in homes, as the province prepares for a second wave of the novel coronavirus.

“Everything we need to know about this pandemic, what we did right and what we did wrong, we already know,” Ms. Grinspun, a health policy expert who has held the position since 1996, said in an interview. What we need now is sincere, fast and funded action.”

In addition to hiring more nurses and personal support workers, the RNAO, which represents 44,000 registered nurses, nurse practitioners and students, has for years been calling for each resident to receive four hours a day of personal and nursing care. The organization says each home should have a nurse practitioner per 120 residents, as well as a nurse who specializes in infection control on site. Ms. Grinspun also said families should also be allowed back into homes to care for their loved ones even during outbreaks, which she said will prevent malnutrition, dehydration and loneliness.

“I’m not sure what we are going to discover in the commission. We are going to point fingers. But what seniors and what families need, and quite frankly what homes and staff need, is not pointing fingers. It’s acting on solutions now,” she said.

Premier Doug Ford said Friday that details of the commission, which is supposed to start this month, will be revealed in the next week or so. Some labour leaders and critics, including the NDP, have called for a full-scale public inquiry into the tragedy in nursing homes, where more than 1,800 residents have died.

The Ministry of Long-Term Care is also set to release a report on July 31 about staffing levels, which the government has said will inform a “comprehensive staffing strategy” to be implemented by the end of the year. That staffing study, led by an expert panel, was among the recommendations made by Justice Eileen Gillese in her inquiry into serial killer Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a former nurse who killed eight nursing home patients. That inquiry took two years to complete and a final report was released last July.


Ford is at it again. After apologizing on July 3rd "for 'misinformation' after he accused migrant workers of hiding from COVID-19 tests" (, he now wants to find out if he can force migrant workers to take a Covid-19 test.

Jenna Hennebry, associate professor with the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University and co-founder of the Migrant Worker Health Expert Working Group, points out that singling out a group to impose mandatory testing on "can breed xenophobia. It can create conditions where people don't understand that the risk isn't necessarily from those people — that, in fact, those people are at risk." 

The Migrant Workers Alliance For Change demanded that Trudeau needs to take action on the crisis faced by migrant workers by giving them permanent immigration status to solve the crisis. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his team has been asked to consult a constitutional lawyer to find out if the province can mandate COVID-19 testing for migrant farm workers. "If someone comes into our country ... that's a privilege when you cross the border into someone's country," Ford told a new conference Friday. "I tried to work — work until you can't work any longer — with the folks. I would like to look into mandatory testing."

The announcement comes as Windsor-Essex's medical officer of health said the region now has the highest rate of coronavirus cases in the province.

On Friday, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 53 new cases of coronavirus, with 43 coming from the agri-farm sector. The number of migrant farm workers who have tested positive for coronavirus surpassed 1,000 Friday. ...

Jenna Hennebry, associate professor with the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University and co-founder of the Migrant Worker Health Expert Working Group, said she believes testing is essential and more of it is needed. Henry said imposing mandatory testing on one group could single them out and send a bad message. "It can breed xenophobia. It can create conditions where people don't understand that the risk isn't necessarily from those people — that, in fact, those people are at risk," said Hennebry. ...

"If the approach is to try to find the most effective public health approach, then it's about testing as many people as possible — not just a subgroup of people that are facing heightened vulnerabilities."

Hennebry suggested COVID-19 testing should be mandatory for "everybody that's entering the country" and not just migrant workers who are "not any more likely to have it than anyone else showing up at a border." She said the conditions in which the migrants work and live heightens their potential for exposure to the virus and for spreading it. Hennebry added that testing multiple times throughout the season would be helpful, especially if it was facilitated by somebody other than employers. 

In a statement, Migrant Workers Alliance For Change said Ford is "back to blaming migrants," referring to the premier's statement earlier this month when he suggested migrant workers were hiding from COVID-19 testing. He later apologized.  ...

"Unless testing is mandatory for all residents, including farm employers, this measure if implemented clearly targets low-waged, racialized people and is racist and discriminatory," read a statement from the group. It added that the responsibility for COVID-19 outbreaks on farms "lies with working and living conditions, not with workers. Premier Ford knows how to fix this situation: He can mandate physical distancing at work and at home for all migrant farm workers and ensure equal rights for migrant workers. But he won't do it, and thousands continue to be infected, and three migrants are dead."

Migrant Workers Alliance For Change said it is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to "step in and give full and permanent immigration status to migrant workers so that they can protect themselves."


Despite the Ontario Auditor General finding that the Ford government's Bill 197 did not comply with existing law because it failed to consult the public on major environmental changes before passing the bill, Ford simply says its legal. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he doesn’t agree with the province’s auditor general that his government was “not compliant” with the law by passing major environmental changes without public consultation.

The government passed Bill 197 on Tuesday, an act that would alter 20 existing laws and make pivotal changes to environmental law. Under Ontario’s Environmental Bill of Rights, the government must consult the public about environment-related legislation before passing it. 

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk flagged concerns to the government Friday, saying two portions of Bill 197 were not compliant with the Environmental Bill of Rights, Canada’s National Observer previouslyreported. 

“I’m going to have to respectfully disagree,” Ford said Wednesday, when asked about Lysyk’s finding at his daily COVID-19 briefing. 

Ontario NDP environment critic Ian Arthur fired back on Twitter: “You can respectfully disagree with a law all you want. But it's still a law,” he said. ...

The auditor general is an independent watchdog role, mainly tasked with keeping an eye on provincial finances. Last year, however, the Ford government dissolved the office of the environmental commissioner and moved that role under the auditor general’s purview. 

Ford has said Bill 197 is aimed at speeding up key infrastructure projects to help Ontario recover from the economic hit it has taken due to COVID-19.

The legislation means the government will now decide which projects get environmental assessments, rather than reviewing most public sector projects by default. It also streamlines assessments for projects that do need them, and removes a mechanism that allows the public to ask for a full review of a project.

The government is working on more regulations to decide on a list of which projects should get assessments, and to define what the streamlined assessments will look like — the government has said it will still review projects with a moderate or high impact on the environment. ...

Bill 197 also expands the government’s power to override the normal land planning process and potential opposition to projects through ministerial zoning orders (or MZOs). ...

The government laid out the changes to environmental assessments in a discussion paper last year and held consultations about its plans. But it did not consult the public on the final version of the rewrite — the government included a measure to exempt that part of the bill from public consultation requirements under the Environmental Bill of Rights — or on the changes to MZOs. 

Lysyk previously told National Observer that the government exempting itself from a law retroactively would be “precedent-setting.”



Here's a look at the sad record of the Ford government during the Covid crisis. 

Now into the third year of its mandate, the Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford is being assessed for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis. ...

On a personal level, the premier’s responses to the pandemic have generally been regarded favourably. He has at times conveyed deep personal empathy for those affected by COVID-19 and their families. 

At the same time, the province has struggled to provide effective responses to the COVID-19 crisis, seemingly uncertain of what direction to take or of the scope of its own authority and capacity. 

Controversies over the government’s plans to reopen elementary schools without reducing class sizes are the latest in series of stumbles in managing the crisis. ...

Slow to recognize the scope of the pandemic: The Ontario government was initially slow to recognize the scope of the pandemic and the risks it posed. COVID-19’s global spread was apparent by early March, yet the premier confidently advised Ontarians to “go away” and “have fun” over the March break holiday. By the time a provincial lockdown was imposed on March 18, most of those travellers were already back in Ontario. ...

The disaster that ensued in long-term care centres has been well-documented. More than 1,450 long-term care residents have died of COVID-19. More may have perished due to neglect as portions of the care system, particularly in for-profit facilities, effectively collapsed. ...

The province was again slow to respond, despite well-known risks in the sector, especially its increasing reliance on part-time itinerant staff, and more general concerns over the quality and level of care being provided in long-term care facilities. Many of these issues had been highlighted less than a year earlier in the July 2019 report of the inquiry into the murders of nursing home residents by nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer. 

The province’s promise of an “iron ring of protection” for care facility residents failed. The government then studiously avoided a formal judicial inquiry into the COVID-19 care home disaster, opting for a less formal commission, which will lack public testimony, under oath, by key officials in system. ...

Seasonal workers: Early warning bells were also sounded around the potential risks to large numbers of temporary foreign farm workers employed in Ontario. Crowded, unsanitary living conditions, as well as the vulnerability to deportation for workers who lack permanent resident status if fired by their employers, were again well-known long before the arrival of COVID-19. ...

Yet the province failed to take proactive action, despite having substantial legal authority to set and enforce standards and practices for farm operators under occupational health and safetypublic health and agricultural legislation. 

Those responsibilities were left to the ad hoc efforts of local health units, most notably in Windsor-Essex. The result was more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 among temporary farm workers and at least three deaths. ...

School reopenings: The government’s latest missteps have been around the reopening of schools in September. Major concerns are being raised by health experts, school boards, teachers and parents about the government’s approach to opening elementary schools. ...

The government seems to be proceeding on a largely business-as-usual model with normal, pre-pandemic class sizes. Personal protective equipment will be provided for teachers, and masks are required for students in grades 4 to 8, and are recommended for younger children. 

But health experts and public health authorities have highlighted the need to reduce class sizes to control COVID-19 in schools. With smaller classes, any outbreak would be limited to a smaller group. Teachers are also far more likely to be able to manage the behaviour of their students in smaller classes. 

The Ford government, overall, has presented an image of deep concern and empathy for the victims of the pandemic. But it’s flailing when it comes to delivering the kinds of concrete, proactive measures that COVID-19 requires. ....

At times the government has seemed unable to grasp the scope of the many tools at its disposal to deal with the pandemic.

‘Final sign-off’: Despite its challenges in dealing with COVID-19, the province has been quietly efficient in the ongoing pursuit of its pro-business agenda. In fact, in many ways, that agenda has accelerated under the cover of the pandemic. 

The land development industry continues to be a favourite of the government. Proposed revisions to the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe region released in June would compel municipalities to make land available to developers to accommodate doubtful projections of population growth to 2051. ...

The same proposed amendments would permit aggregate extraction operations (for example, gravel pits and quarries) in the habitat of endangered and threatened species. The province’s environmental assessment process, in place since the mid-1970s, was largely dismantled through the government’s omnibus “Economic Recovery Act” pushed through the legislature in July. ...

Where the government’s combination of empathy, administrative ineptitude and responsiveness to whatever developers and other industries seem to ask of it will lead is unknown. But that doesn’t serve the interests of Ontario residents very well. Nor does it provide a very strong basis on which to head into an election less than two years away.