News from the Park

When things are not exactly going the way I hope, invariably someone, with the best of intentions of course, comes along, sounding just like Sister Maria von Trap from the Sound of Music, and says something like, “Remember, every cloud has a silver lining.” When someone says something like that to me, when things are going wrong, I find myself muttering silently, “Give me strength.” Now, in the light of day and when things are calm, I have to admit that there actually is some truth to this idiom.


It may interest readers to know that it is thought that this idiom was derived by the words of the author John Milton back in 1634 when he wrote, “Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud turn forth her silver lining on the night?” The meaning of the idiom is clear enough, that sometimes good things can happen as a result of something bad.


For politicians, one of the best examples of this came about as a result of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Records show that during the depression in America, about 1,200 cities and counties actually went bankrupt. In major cities, the unemployment rate reached 50 percent. After enduring three worsening years of economic disaster in the USA, voters turned the keys to the White House over to Franklin Deleno Roosevelt – often referred to as FDR. It was Roosevelt who developed what was to be called “The New Deal” that helped to breathe life and prosperity back into America’s dying economy. The thing that made the New Deal work is that it was not just some kind of bailout. It was not just a cash payout to help make ends meet until things improved on their own. Rather the New Deal was a total change in policy development which was based on long-term implementation with a totally different path leading to growth.


The NDP vowed when we began the last session of the Legislature that we were not going to just oppose the government but also propose new, forward looking ideas. That’s just what the Save Main Street plan is. We believe it’s all about making the kind of choices that will most benefit the people of this province.


Doug Ford always chooses to spend on big businesses, while cutting and shortchanging the things working folks, families and small-and medium-sized enterprises rely on. His second wave plan is a last moment Hail Mary that is incomplete, weeks late and clearly not working. Andrea Horwath said, “The Ford government is doing the bare minimum with a priority of saving a buck for a rainy day. He has $6.7 billion from the federal government at his disposal that is meant to get Ontario going again. Yet he has only spent 0.1 percent – not even 1 percent – of it on recovery.”


In contrast, the NDP believes that by investing in working people, we can make sure Ontarians don’t just stay afloat through the second wave, but rather come out of this pandemic healthier and more prosperous, and ready to power the economy forward. It is a plan that puts small business first because it is the small businesses that Ontarians support. Small businesses are in every community across the province and in the very neighbourhoods we live in, right where our friends, neighbours and family work to put food on their tables.


The NDP’s Save Main Street plan will help get Ontario business and our families back on their feet with money that they earn in their pockets rather than just envelopes of bailout funding. This will keep business open, paying rent, wages and taxes that stay in our communities ensuring confidence and growth. Each local business represents a dream, an act of courage, and a family. Throughout the pandemic we’ve heard from business owners eager to support their staff, serve the community, and help in whatever way they can—now it’s time for the government to step up and do everything they can to support these businesses and their workers.


Here in the North, one in four businesses is tourism related, and 40 percent of the workforce is connected to tourism. For Northerners, any recovery plans being considered by the government must not shortchange the hardworking families who own these businesses.


The NDP’s plan includes a focused effort on the she-covery. Women, especially moms, have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Their jobs were the first to go and have been the last to return. We also know that between childcare and supporting elderly parents, women have historically shouldered more unpaid care-giving responsibilities. The Save Main Street plan will make this happen.


The NDP’s plan includes more forward looking polices which include a ban on all commercial evictions, a 75 per cent commercial rent subsidy, sick days for all, a fund to help businesses with safe-reopening costs or remote-work set-up costs, more non-profit and public child care spaces for working parents, and an end to insurance gouging and insurance denials.


So, even though it might be hard to believe, maybe it is true that every cloud has its silver lining – or at least has the potential for us to find one. FDR shared his vision of a silver lining by implementing policies, vastly different from the former administration, in the form of the New Deal for America. He used the framework of the economic crisis to get the American people back on their feet. In the same way, as Ontario stares down this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Democrats are proposing a vastly different route than the one Doug Ford has mapped out for us. Ford’s advice seems to simply tell us all to hang on as best we can and hope you make it out. The Save Main Street plan will lead to growth, prosperity and confidence that can lead the way for generations to come.


For more information or details about the Save Main Street plan, go to my website, michaelmantha.com/save-main-street.


Clearly the pandemic is a terrible situation for the entire world. But here in Canada and in Ontario, we must look at this also as a unique window of opportunity to change direction. I have always maintained the greatest resource here in Northern Ontario is not our pristine lakes, our forests or our precious metals and minerals. Our greatest resource is our people. I truly believe Northern Ontarians are up for this challenge.


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 mmantha-co@ndp.on.ca or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.


Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin