TORONTO - Last Thursday, Doug ford’s government adjourned Ontario’s Parliament until next February, leaving in its wake a trail of scandal that have highlighted the Government’s first six months, traditionally a honeymoon period.
For Doug Ford, one to forget. Last Thursday, just prior to the adjournment, Ford introduced a Bill titled “Bill 66, an Act to restore competitiveness in Ontario”.
It is a voluminous, omnibus Bill that rescinds regulatory regimes currently o¤ering protections for both citizens and the environment through 12 di¤erent Ministries. The intended goal is to “cut red tape”, shorten the bureaucratic process. At first blush, it seems a rather innocuous initiative.
There is general agreement that simplification of process is a good thing. But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details. In this case, the details present a serious cause for concern. Bill 66 undermines workers’ rights by exempting municipalities, hospitals, universities and other public institutions from employing unionized personnel.
The government justifies this saying that it is a fundamental step to job creation; but, the marketplace is at near full employment and the shortage of labour in the construction industry is a wellknown, well-documented fact.
The law epitomizes the slogan “Ontario Open for Business”. It allows Municipal Councils to approve [re]development projects in industrial-commercial areas previously prohibited by protective regulations and laws passed by governments of all stripes, Conservative, Liberal and NDP.
Laws such as; the Greenbelt Act, Place to Grow Act, a law to contain urban sprawl; the law designed to protect the Great Lakes; the Clean Water Act, approved after the disaster at Walkerton and the seven lives it took, and the Toxic Reduction Act which prohibits the use of toxic substances.
Bill 66 even allows an increase in the number of children to three in unlicensed day-care facilities from the current two. This was a measure made necessary in 2015 when children died in unlicensed day-cares under the supervision of uncertified sta¤. Doug Ford won the election more on the strength of the public’s total rejection of the previous Liberal government than on the merits of his vague populist platform.
Once in government, Doug Ford revealed his hand for all to see the consequences of his retro grade politics which the people of Ontario will have to endure for the next four years.
During the campaign, Doug Ford trumpeted everywhere that his would be “a government for the people” and that he would “put money in their pockets”. So far, however, the lucky ones were the “predetermined few” like Ian Todd. He was an advisor to Doug Ford, sent to Washington as a trade representative with an annual salary of $350,000, an increase of $75,000 over what the previous office holder was paid.
Or even Ron Tavener, nominated OPP commissioner under a cloud of, now common, scandal. Until recently, he had been a police superintendent in Etobicoke, personal family friend of the Ford and assiduous attendee at the Ford Nation Barbeque. His salary jumped to $276,000 from $ 186,662.92. Not so for the millions of people who work for minimum wage, one that had been raised gradually by the preceding Liberal government.
It had been scheduled to rise in 2019 from $14 per hour to $15. In Bill 66, with classic autocratic arrogance, Doug Ford cancelled this projected raise, he says, “to attract investments”. No debate, no consultations. The Unemployment Rate in 2018 stands at 5.6% - the lowest in 40 years.
Ironically, while in the Legislature at Queen’s Park Conservative MPPs rose, on cue, to applaud their boss whenever he rises to speak, the head of the Federal Parliamentary Budget O.ce, Yves Giroux, noted that even the modest increase in the minimum wage has had a positive impact on the economy; moreover, it has contributed significantly to the reduction of salary imbalances in Canada.
Bill 66, under the pretext of creating savings, consequences, renders it more di.cult for people with disabilities to obtain their benefits. Come February, Bill 66 will be up for debate at Queen’s Park. Cutting red tape is good. Taking Ontario back to the 1950's is not. We need to start a public debate. The public did not give Doug Ford a blank cheque.