Toronto – November 10, 2021 – Recent announcements by Doug Ford show a cynical premier trying on a new political persona, as more working people are looking to the NDP in the upcoming Ontario provincial election. Ford hopes that by showing workers a more labour-friendly agenda, their votes will help him and the Conservatives get re-elected. But when you dig into some of Ford’s promises what you really see is a premier fixing past mistakes or looking out for his buddies.
Recently, Ford announced that he was going to raise the Ontario minimum wage to $15 an hour. While minimum wage workers deserve and need a raise, it was Ford who cancelled the $15 minimum wage increase shortly after he was elected in 2018. If the increase had been left in place, with annual cost-of-living adjustment, minimum wage would be higher than $15 an hour today. And let’s not forget that Ford not only cancelled the minimum wage increase in 2018, but also stripped Ontario workers of several other rights including paid sick days.
Meanwhile, instead of shaping public policy to confront the climate crisis, Ford has decided to step on the gas pedal with expanded highway plans that would increase emissions over sensitive Greenbelt areas, including 11 hectares of wetlands and “Ontario’s vegetable patch”, the Holland Marsh intensive farming area. The plan would save drivers little if any time. The real beneficiaries are rich developers, many who have been generous donors to Ford and the Conservatives.
As for promises to protect those living in long-term-care who felt the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ford’s Providing More Care, Protecting Seniors, and Building More Beds Act, 2021 does little to provide any real help. The requirement to promote the delivery of long-term care by non-profit organizations has been removed. Some of the worst for-profit operators revealed during the pandemic are now being awarded with millions of dollars to build new beds, which shouldn’t be surprising seeing many of them have been big donors to Ford and the Conservatives. Mandatory inspections are still not required, and a daily minimum of 4 hours of hands-on care per resident is now only a target and delayed until 2025.
Ford knows he needs a friendlier façade as an Ontario election approaches, but it’s a charade to entrench a government that rewards elites at the expense of ordinary working Ontarians. Don’t get fooled by the Ford Conservatives. The real ally of working families is the NDP.