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FORUM: Ford’s backtracks show our resistance is working (Nov. 2019)

December 9th, 2019 · No Comments

With his popularity in free fall, the premier tries reverse gear

By Jessica Bell

Over the past year, Doug Ford has hacked away at our schools, hospitals, and communities. He’s made devastating cuts to OSAP, ambulance services, and cancer-screening programs. Under his term, class sizes have ballooned, wait times at emergency rooms have increased, and university has become more expensive. It’s a bleak picture. But the good news is we have been fighting back – and Ford is now forced to listen. 

While these victories are important to celebrate, none of them would have happened without a fight.

With Queen’s Park finally back in session, it’s important to recognize the progress we’ve made. Parents, advocates, teachers, young people, and politicians have all stood up to fight for a better Ontario. Over the past few months, Ford has been forced to backtrack on a number of destructive cuts and ill-advised actions such as:

Transition Child Benefit Cuts.

Ford was set to eliminate the Transition Child Benefit – a $230 monthly benefit to assist vulnerable low-income families, including refugee claimants, who aren’t eligible for other forms of child benefit assistance.  After public outcry led by refugee advocates and organizations, including University–Rosedale’s Christie Refugee Welcome Centre, Ford reversed this cruel cut.

TTC Upload

As part of his back-of-the-napkin transit scheme, Ford announced that the province would take over the entirety of the TTC. For the past year, we’ve built a coalition and fought hard for the TTC to remain in Toronto’s hands. In October, Ford finally backed down, agreeing to end his hostile takeover if Toronto supports the Ontario Line.  

Sex-Ed Curriculum 

Ford campaigned on repealing the updated sexual education curriculum in an effort to appease far-right Conservatives. But after thousands of parents, educators, and students – including those at Harbord Collegiate, Central Tech, Central Toronto Academy, and St. Joseph’s College – demanded the right to a comprehensive sexual education, Ford backed down. The “new” curriculum he introduced in August is almost identical to the one he swore to destroy a year ago.  

Autism Support

Rather than provide families with much-needed assistance to help pay for support and therapy, the Ford government attempted to overhaul the system by slashing funding for high-needs children.  After months of demonstrations and testimonials by impacted families, Ford reversed his position and has said he’ll increase funding and use a needs-based approach to determine support. We will hold him to this promise.

Vaping Regulations

Ford made sure that Ontario was “open for business” to vaping companies by loosening advertising restrictions. After hospitalizations and sustained pressure from the NDP and the health community, Ford has finally backed down and admitted that vaping companies shouldn’t be advertising to children. 

Public Health Cuts

In the spring, Ford announced huge cuts to municipal public health services that would have cost Toronto up to $1 billion over the next decade. After thousands of people signed petitions, protested at Queen’s Park, and wrote to their public officials, Ford finally relented and halted this year’s cut. However, funding reductions are still planned to go forward for 2020 – unless we continue the pressure.  

?While these victories are important to celebrate, none of them would have happened without a fight. Doug Ford has shown us what his priorities are, and what he’ll cut without a second thought, if he can get away with it. With a new legislative session upon us, it’s more important than ever that we continue to organize, work together, and stand up for a better future. 

I’m committed to continuing to fight Ford’s cuts to education and teacher layoffs. I’m committed to pushing for investments in good quality public transit and affordable housing, and to forcing real action on our climate crisis.  

If you would like to join me, please contact my Community Office at 416-535-7206 or by email at jbell-co@ndp.on.ca to get involved. I also encourage you to join your local residents’ association, parent group, or advocacy organization that is fighting for bold change. Together, we are stronger – and we’ve shown that we can win.  

Jessica Bell is the Member of Provincial Parliament for University-Rosedale. Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy is MPP Bell’s Legislative and Policy Advisor. With files from Wyndham Bettencourt-McCarthy.

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Tags: Annex · Opinion