Recently I was in the positon of needing to make arrangements for a special retrofit project back home. Knowing such a project would likely take some time to complete and given my work schedule, doing the work myself just wasn’t practical. Besides, I admit that I didn’t really know where to begin, so I needed to hire someone. As I set out to hire someone, I asked myself - how I know who to hire? Then, out of the blue, the answer popped into my head one evening as I sat in my Queen’s Park office pouring over some of the issues of the day.
Who would I hire to work on my car? Who would I want to be my doctor? Who would I want to be my sons’ teachers? Who did I hire to work in my offices? The answer to all of these is quite simple. In each case, I want to hire someone that cares about what they are doing and who they are doing it for. But, it is important to understand that it was my concern for the cause of many of Ontario’s political woes that brought the solution to mind that night.
Ever since last fall, it seems that Ontarians are being fed a steady diet of deep cuts and mammoth changes to a long and growing list of programs and policies that profoundly affect our lives. During the campaign, Doug Ford’s standard line was his government would require all ministries, offices and programs to find ‘efficiencies’ that would add up to just 4 cents on the dollar. Well, finding those 4 cents might seem to be so small that the effect would be negligible. However, it’s not necessarily the amount that is cut but more where those efficiencies are found. The key here would be to ensure that the people who are making such decisions not only know how much is being cut; but more importantly, do they truly understand and care how these cuts are going to affect the lives of those they were elected to represent.
Take for example the government’s scheme to increase class sizes and eliminating up to 10,000 teaching positons. They have announced they are increasing class size limits by an average of 1 more student in classes beginning in grade four, 6 more students in each high school class, and they will force students to take one course per year at home online with no live teacher for support. And on top of that, it now seems the future of full day kindergarten is in doubt. Does anyone actually believe that having more students receiving less individual attention from a live teacher will actually improve a child’s overall education? I ask you, would a professional educator who actually cares about children propose such changes?
Also, still thinking of education, keep in mind that by ending Ontario’s cap-and-trade program, Doug Ford effectively put $16-billion worth of repairs to schools for everything from leaky roofs to broken windows and lead in drinking fountains on indefinite hold. Does this sound like a decision made by someone who loves and cares about the future and wellbeing of our children?
Earlier this year, the Ford Conservatives announced that they were ending “free” post secondary tuition, cancelling the six-month grace period on student loan interest, and letting students opt-out of some student union fees. Too many young Ontarians were already struggling under the weight of crushing student debt loads before Doug Ford decided to make it harder to get grant money. With these changes, life for students is only going to get worse. Ford has decided to start the clock on interest payments for student loans before the ink on their diploma is dry. Living under burdensome debt load prevents people from making the important purchases like homes and cars that help to keep people employed and our economy thriving.
The Ford government has also failed to take action for children and families in Cat Lake First Nation who have been under a state of emergency since Jan. 16, 2019. Homes in that community are so full of mould they are virtually uninhabitable. Many of the children in the community are covered from head to toe in sores and rashes, and they can’t even access medical treatment - which is supposed to be a human right. One resident’s death has been directly attributed to the presence of mould in her home. Ontarians expect their government to treat people humanely and offer assistance when needed, especially during a state of emergency. The Ford Conservatives choose to sit on their hands.
Here in our own back yard, since the Conservatives formed government, Health Sciences North in Sudbury has lost 60 front line health care workers, nurses, technicians, and hands-on care positions. These cuts have already affected access to front line services like Sudbury's breast cancer screening clinic and the seating clinic for people needing specialized wheelchairs. Now the Conservatives admit that more jobs will be lost at the 14 LHINs as their services will be amalgamated into a super health bureaucracy. Would a health care professional believe this is the best way to help their patients?
When the People of Ontario vote, they are in effect looking to ‘hire’ someone on whom they can entrust the wellbeing of the entire province. They are looking to ‘hire’ someone who cares about what they are doing and who they are doing it for. Like every new hire they are looking for someone whose work is visible, up front and accountable. They are not interested enlisting those who work secretly in back rooms or who ‘sign’ deals with a handshake or wink.
The people of Ontario deserve better than this. We deserve a government that will work toward replacing the cynicism of the past two decades with hope and trust. We deserve a government that puts people at the heart of every decision it makes.
As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters. You can reach my constituency office by email at email@example.com or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.
Michael Mantha MPP/député