A Commentary by Doug Draper
Posted August 4th, 2018 on Niagara At Large
“My friends …. We are going to turn this province around so that our children and their children will feel proud to call Ontario their home.” – Ontario Premier Doug Ford, after his self-described “government for the people” was sworn in this past June 29th.
Did we all catch that? He’s going to turn our province around in ways our children and their children can be proud of.
Is he now.
Less than six months after coming to power, Doug Ford and his Tories are swinging axes at schools, environmental protection, social assistance for people living in poverty and other services in ways that are already realizing the worst fears of millions of Ontarians – a majority of whom did not vote for him this past June and likely never will.
One of his targets within the last week alone was – believe it or not –mental health services at a time when studies across North America speak to great un-met need for assistance in this critical area.
Doug Ford and his so-called “government for the people” have announced that they are going to cut mental health funding across Ontario a staggering $330-milloin per year when, figures show, one in three people across the province face mental health challenges.
Around the same time information about this cut was coming out of Queen’s Park, I happened to be listening to a phone-in program on CBC Radio – broadcast in the aftermath of the tragic mass shooting in Toronto’s Danforth Avenue area earlier this July – about the growing numbers of young people in the province getting their hands on guns, then using and abusing them in ways that do serious harm to themselves and others.
A good number of the people phoned in to the program with stories about young people that they know or that are members of their families who have found their way into the world of guns who are also suffering from mental health problems these friends or family members are struggling to get professional help for.
“Today, there are over 12,000 children waiting up to 18 months for mental health supports, and there are 13,000 people in Toronto waiting up to five years for supportive housing. Addictions and Mental Health Ontario says $2.4 billion in new funding is needed over the next four years,” said Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath in a recent statement.
“But instead of helping Ontarians who need it most, this premier is dragging Ontario backwards,” Horwath added. “His mental health commitment – $1.9 billion over 10 years, down from $2.1 billion over four years – is a massive cut to the supports and services Ontarians are depending on.”
One wonders what thoughts, if any, are drifting through the heads of people who voted for Doug Ford as one axe after another comes down on provincial services. Are they the least bit concerned? Do they care?
How will they respond when the day comes that Ford slashes services they need to live a quality life? How much will the few hundred bucks they may get back in tax cuts be worth to them then?
I grew up in Ontario in the 1960s and 1970s when there was this collective idea people embraced that we looked after each other. If something unfortunate happens that causes you some suffering, we help you and if something happens to me, I can count on some help from others. There was a strong sense of common good at play.
But there is no hint of that common good in Ford. And there is an apparently no sense of it in the people who voted for him on a promise he might save them however many bucks in taxes.
It appears that these Ford voters could care less what this human wrecking ball of a premier does to health, education and a whole host of services across the board –just so long as they get their tax cut and that he doesn’t slash any of the services i need.’
Where is any sense of care or compassion for our fellow citizens in that? There has been no evidence of it in Ford’s first weeks as premier and there probably never will be.
Going back to Doug Ford’s years as a Toronto city councillor, including his late brother Rob’s time as Toronto mayor, he was infamous for demonstrating a red hot rage for government and politicians.
It is a wonder where this molten anger fort all things public sector came from since he grew up on his father’s dime and spent much of his adult life latched on to the public tit. But the rage is there and the destruction it causes is likely only going to get worse if the record of his Tory predecessor in the premier’s chair, Mike Harris, offers any example.
And thanks to those who voted for this demolition derby, Ford commands a majority of seats in the Ontario legislature so he can run the province like a dictator just so long as members of his caucus stick with him, and don’t cut and run from the slash and burn program.
Do what you can to stay healthy and strong. We have three years and 10 months to go!
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