Ford’s Cuts to Municipal Services Were On for 2019. Now They Are Off, He Says, Until Next Year. Where is Ford Taking Us Next on this Bumper Car Ride? And is This Any Way to Run a Province?
“It is a relief that it is not happening this year,” says Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley, adding that vigilance remains in order.
A News Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted May 27th, 2019 on Niagara At Large
With municipalities across Ontario rising up against him and his popularity among Ontarians cratering to historic lows for any premier in his first year of office, Doug Ford announced this May 27th that his government is at least temporarily reversing cuts it was imposing this year to child care, public health care and ambulance and a number of other services delivered by municipalities across the province.
“We’re a government that listens,” Ford insisted during a brief scrum with Queen’s Park reporters after announcing that his self-described “Government for the People” would hold back on the controversial cuts. “We’re going to give the mayors (across the province) more time. We are going to work with them.”
The announcement came after months of mounting opposition from Ontario municipalities, including a gathering this past May 24th of the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario representing the mayors of 28 municipalities across the province, including St. Catharines, who called on Ford and his government, once again, to work in partnership with municipal councils before moving so quickly and unilaterally to axe funding for vital services.
“It is a relief that it is not happening this year,” Jim Bradley, Niagara Region’s Chair told Niagara At Large following the announcement to reverse the cuts for at least the remainder of this year. “It is a continuing issue though because we are going to have to watch very carefully what will happen in the future.”
In other words, vigilance in in order, said Bradley, because the cuts in question threaten to download possibly many millions of dollars in costs for services to Niagara alone.
And those costs, he added, would eventually hit residents in the pocketbook through their property taxes.
In the meantime, Bradley said thanks has to go to a host of groups and individuals, including the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), and the City of Toronto’s Mayor John Tory, who recently launched his council’s own “stop the cuts” campaign, for putting enough pressure on Ford to at least put the cuts to such vital services as child care, public health, ambulance and paramedics on hold until the end of this year.
Another factor in Ford’s sudden decision to put the cuts on ice could be poll numbers that made headlines this May 24th, showing Ford’s popularity as premier already lower in the first 11 months of his tenure than Kathleen Wynne’s decidedly dismal numbers were in her last year as premier.
There is also speculation among some pundits interviewed on CBC and other media programs this May 27th, that another reason put the brakes on the controversial cuts was fear that they may hurt the chances of his federal Tory allies in their bid to beat Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and win enough seats to form a government in this coming October’s federal elections.
Support in Ontario, as it always has been, is crucial to any federal party forming a government and one of the last things federal Conservative leader Andrew Scheer may need now is a Conservative government at the provincial level that is cutting and gutting services for people he hopes to win over.
Niagara at Large will continue to post news on this and other decisions the Ford government is making that could impact key services for people and the communities they live in.
To read a CBC report on the Ford government’s May 27th announcement to put a brake on the cuts to some services delivered by municipalities, click on – https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ford-clark-monday-announcement-1.5150991 .
To read a report Niagara At Large posted this May 24th on Ford’s poll numbers, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2019/05/25/less-than-one-year-in-ford-is-already-tanking-in-public-popularity-ontario-poll/ .
To read a Niagara At Large post on Ontario municipalities urging the Ford government to halt service cuts and work in partnership with them on budget solutions, click on – https://niagaraatlarge.com/2019/05/24/ontario-municipalities-urge-ford-government-to-defer-funding-calls-work-in-partnership-with-them-for-betterment-of-people/ .
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