To My Doug Ford Supporting Friends and Family: An Open Letter
Photo by Mihály Köles on Unsplash “The measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable and our most vulnerable are children.” Tanya Talaga, Toronto Star Columnist To my Doug Ford supporting friends and family, I have a hard time understanding how any decent person could support Doug Ford. Ford is the leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party. However, there is nothing progressive about him or his party. He is not for the “little guy” as he pretends to be. Ontarians elected Doug Ford as the Premier of Ontario in the 2018 Ontario General Election. The Progressive Conservative Party won 76 of the 124 seats at Queen’s Park. On June 29 (2018), Doug Ford was sworn in as Premier and began a full-blown assault on the poor and vulnerable. Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash Healthcare Healthcare cuts came fast and deep. Almost as soon as taking office, Ford cut $100 million from healthcare. What about the plan to end hallway medicine? It was followed by a $335 million cut to mental health funding. Approximately ten percent of Ontarians suffer from a mental health problem. That is higher than any other health problem. The cuts to autism therapy were cruel. Ford sentenced autistic kids to a life of hardship and financial difficulty. There is life-altering therapy available but costs upwards of $100,000 per year. The new funding model caps five and under with $20,000 per year. Where is the average Ontario family going to find an extra $80,000 per year? Ford made it harder for children to get free prescription medicines. Who takes prescription drugs away from kids? In the 2019 Budget, they cut $200 million from public health units. What function does the public health unit serve? “We prevent chronic diseases, we ensure food safety, immunizations, infectious diseases prevention and control. We focus on substance abuse and injuries, school health. We consider ourselves part of the local, if you will, kind of security infrastructure,” Dr. Robert Kyle, president of the Association of Local Public Health Agencies There is an opioid crisis in Ontario. Ford froze funding and closed overdose prevention sites. These closures will lead to higher HIV rates amongst drug users injecting themselves from shared needles. Rape is a vicious crime. Very few victims even report rape. The Liberals increased Rape Crisis Centres funding by $4 million in 2019. Ford cancelled the increase. Rape victims are not reporting the crime and less likely to receive help from a Rape Crisis Centre. Ford defunded the Commission on Violence Against Women. Does Doug Ford hate women and kids? Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash Public and High Schools Doug Ford thinks everyone should follow what he decrees. The influential Teachers Union is going to give him a big surprise. Ford attacked teachers before he was even Premier. The Ontario government is entering negotiations with the Teachers Union. Instead of entering the talks in good faith, Ford threatened the teachers not to strike before the two sides sat down to discuss a new agreement. He is cutting 3,400 teaching jobs over four years without consulting the union. Not because it will create a better education system but to save money. Ford wants to change the contract end date from August 31st to another time. He thinks a different date gives the government more power over the teachers in the next negotiation. No matter what date the contract ends, the teachers have the advantage. If they walk out before the school year or during gives them bargaining power. A small group of social conservatives insisted the sexual education curriculum convert back to the 1998 version. There was nothing on sexting, consent, LGBTQ, gender identity, and trans rights in the 1998 curriculum. Any teacher who refuses to use the 1998 curriculum can be snitched on with the new “Sex-Ed Snitch Line.” God forbid teenagers learn about getting consent from a prospective sexual partner. Doug Ford’s sex-ed screws kids! Ontario schools need over $1 billion of repairs and renovations. The Liberals allocated $100 million for 2019. Ford cancelled all repairs to schools. Leaking roof? Get a bucket. In Toronto, gang violence is a serious matter. One way to prevent teenagers from joining gangs was after-school programs. Not any more! They cut $25 million from after-school programs. Keeping with their trend of cutting extracurricular activities; Parent Council activities funding disappeared. Photo by Jonathan Daniels on Unsplash Universities and Colleges Doug Ford does not like things he cannot understand like math, science, english, climate change, and financial hardship. He is a rich kid who failed out of school. In the 2019 budget, universities and colleges were told they needed to make performance targets. If they do not meet them, they lose up to 60% of their funding. Ford is trying to decimate Ontario post-secondary education. I cannot figure out why Ford wants to do that. Ford equates free speech with hate speech. He does not get the nuances between the two. Ford thinks universities are breeding grounds for Marxists. The correct term is neo-Marxists, but words are not Ford’s strong suit. His new “free speech” laws for universities allow hatemongers such as Faith Goldy to spew her hateful rhetoric with government protection. OSAP provides students with grants and loans to attend post-secondary institutions. Ford eliminated free tuition for needy students. Instead, he cut tuition by 10% for all students which helps the rich kids. Most poor kids will no longer be able to continue with their education. They are stuck with their student loans and an unfinished degree at a time when Canada needs an educated workforce. The most expensive part of post-secondary education is living away from home. The Liberals had a strategy of building more universities and colleges for cities that did not have them. Ford cancelled all the new universities and colleges. It was not only English speaking post-secondary projects cancelled. They cancelled the new French-language university. Both the construction and administration funding disappeared to start the new institution. Photo by Scott Blake on Unsplash Workers Rights The previous Liberal government increased the minimum wage to $14/hr at the beginning of 2018. Another increase was scheduled for January 2019 to raise it to $15/hr. Ford cancelled the $1/hr increase but kept the corporate tax cut businesses received to help compensate. On top of freezing the minimum wage, Ford cut paid sick days and ten days of emergency leave for all workers. Also, Ford eliminated equal pay for equal work rules. Funding for the Workers’ Compensation Fund was reduced even though it was already underfunded. So much for a “For the People” government. Public Sector Jobs Doug Ford campaigned that no one would lose their job under his “For the People” government. Liar! “Under our government, I’m going to reinforce this, not one single person will lose their job.” Leaders Debate on May 27 (2018) “I say it every night and I’m going to say it again and again. No one, no one will lose their job,” Windsor Rally on May 31 (2018) “Don’t listen to the scare tactics. No one will lose their job, absolutely no one.” Nepean Rally on June 2 (2018) “I want to assure our public sector workers, to our nurses, to our teachers and to our doctors, that no one, and I repeat no one, will lose their job,” News Conference on June 6 (2018) day before the election The day before the election. Doug Ford “assured” Ontarians he would not fire any public sector worker. He broke the promise days after taking over the province. Are teachers, nurses, mental health care workers, child and youth advocates not public sector workers? If they are not public sector workers, who is? Climate Change What about the 758 renewable energy projects Ford cancelled? They employed thousands of workers with good middle-class jobs. Cancelling those projects was an ideological move to placate his supporters in their war on science and the environment. Climate change is real regardless of what Ford’s high school dropout brain can comprehend. “Mr. Ford’s war on science and the environment may be pleasing his friends in back rooms and fulfilling promises he made to social conservatives that supported his election bid,” NDP Energy critic Peter Tabuns said in a statement. “But for the rest of us, it’s going to mean lost jobs, billions of dollars wasted, and tangible environmental damage.” Ontario had a cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec and California which fulfilled our federal requirement for a carbon tax. Ford cancelled it leaving Ontario companies with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of useless carbon credits (which we are getting sued for). What was Ford’s carbon tax plan? It gave polluting corporations about $400 million in subsidies and made it free to pollute. Ford ended the Liberal government’s program to reduce hydro bills by energy conservation and renewable products. Environmental protections eliminated from the Environment Commissioner’s office. Water standards rolled back to pre-Walkerton standards. People died in Walkerton because of contaminated water. Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash Child Care and Welfare The Liberals were implementing free daycare for all preschoolers. Ford cancelled the program and replaced it with a tax credit. The credit is useless to low-income families who do not have the money to pay for daycare and wait for the money back on their taxes the next year. He loosened requirements to operate a daycare putting child safety at risk. All so parents can have more “choice” which is Ford’s buzzword that means if you can afford it. Even more heartless than cutting free daycare, Ford scrapped the oversight of children in the foster care system. Children removed from their home because of neglect enter the foster care system with no one overseeing their care. Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash Basic Income Pilot Ontario started a Basic Income Pilot program in three different areas of the province; Hamilton-Brant, Thunder Bay, and Lindsay. It had 6,000 participants. Individuals received up to $17,000 and couples up to $24,000 per year. People with disabilities received an extra $6,000. Preliminary results showed the program worked. People were healthier, happier, and cost the government less money than those on traditional social welfare programs. Why? Because people had less stress and were eating better quality foods reducing their use of the healthcare system. During the campaign, a Progressive Conservative spokesperson Melissa Lantsman was asked about whether the Ford government would cancel the pilot program. She replied, “Nope, as mentioned we look forward to seeing the results.” “I’m heartbroken for all of my friends who were struggling and had a moment’s reprieve because of the program,” participant Jessie Golem said. “This government is so short-sighted.” Golem worked three jobs before the Basic Income Pilot program. The program allowed her to work full-time with a non-profit. Ford attacks the vulnerable and those trying to make a real difference in this world. Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash Human Rights In the 2019 Ontario Budget, Ford slipped in a new law where no one can sue the government. Ford used the Notwithstanding Clause to violate citizens charter rights. Why? So, he could shrink the size of the Toronto City Council. The Charter had never been used before in Ontario. The lawyers who created the Charter denounced Ford’s use of it. He went against the “spirit of the law” to get revenge against Toronto City Council where he was a failed one-term councillor. Photo by Yeo Khee on Unsplash White Supremacy and the Far-Right Ford posed for photos with Faith Goldy on several occasions and refused to denounce her hate speech and Islamophobia. Facebook de-platformed Goldy but Ford thinks she is a free speech advocate. The Alt-Right controversial professor Jordan Peterson co-hosted an event with Doug Ford. Peterson claimed belief in gender identity was “as bad as claiming that the world is flat.” Doug neither confirmed nor denied the earth is flat. He must check with his science experts first before making any comments about a flat earth. On April 15 (2019), the Ford Government in open court argued that a carbon tax rebate was unfair because minorities make less money than “non-minorities.” So, their carbon tax rebate is a higher percentage of income than a “non-minority.” Ford’s Government admitted in open court that minorities make less money than white people. Yet, they eliminated equal pay for equal work from labour laws. On April 16 (2019), the Ford Government stripped immigrants and refugees of legal counsel. Most immigrants and refugees are minorities. When will Doug Ford step down as Premier and install Faith Goldy or Jordan Peterson? Wasted Tax Dollars The government spent $106,000 on “Open for Business” signs. Ironically, right down the street from the Windsor “Open for Business” sign. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Windsor Assembly Plant laid off 1500 people effective September 30 (2019). That was money well spent! Ford wasted $137 million by interfering with Hydro One during a takeover bid for an American company. Doug Ford was named as the reason they lost the bid. It is extremely rare that an individual politician gets named and could not find another example. The Ford government found $10 million for horse racing subsidies but nothing for rape victims? How is that “For the People?” Is it not “For the Horses?” Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash Corruption During the election campaign, Ford was caught on tape telling major housing developers that he would open the Greenbelt to developers. Over the next three days, those developers gave $460,000 to Ontario Proud for attack ads against the Liberals and NDP. The corruption here was “third party” organizations can only spend $101,800 during the election campaign. Ford might not be able to figure out the math on this corruption. However, Democracy Watch and Elections Ontario can! Ford tried to get family friend Rob Taverner as OPP Commissioner. Taverner used to drive Rob Ford’s car home when he was pulled over for impaired driving. Former OPP Deputy Commissioner Brad Blair sued Doug Ford for being fired. Blair claims he never violated the Police Services Act on multiple occasions as Ford alleged. What Blair did do was release the plans for Doug Ford’s tricked out minivan. A complete waste of money. The OPP anti-racketeering squad is investigating Doug Ford’s office for alleged illegal lobbying. The Ontario Integrity Commissioner is considering opening an ethics investigation. Doug Ford’s leadership campaign is debt free, but he continues to fundraise for it. If the leadership campaign has no liabilities, the money transfers to the Progressive Conservative Party. Donors can double up their donations. They can donate to both his leadership campaign and the Progressive Conservative Party. This loophole allows donors to give $1,600 to Ford’s leadership campaign and $1,600 to the Progressive Conservative Party. This violates the $1,600 cap on donations. It is not illegal but highly unethical and no Premier has ever done it before Ford. Final Thoughts The Doug Ford government is for the healthy, wealthy, and white citizens. How can a government claim to be “For the People” when there is no recourse against it through the court system? Whom does the government work for? Citizens or corporations? To my friends and family who voted for Doug Ford: Do you think Doug Ford’s policies are acceptable? Please tell me that I am wrong about you.