It’s been just over a month since Doug Ford was elected Premier of Ontario, bringing a new Conservative government era to the province. It’s also been less than two weeks since Ford has officially been Premier.
And while staff prepare for the first session of Parliament this week, Ford’s new government has already made some big moves.
Ford was officially sworn in as Premier on June 29, 2018, but cancellations of programs from the Kathleen Wynne days began even before then.
Opposition leader Andrea Horwath called out Ford for “governing from backrooms” and not offering any public notice.
“No one voted for business to be conducted in secret, behind closed doors,” said Horwath. “And I’m sure no one voted to have a premier that would listen to influencers and lobbyists while shutting out everyday people affected by the laws. Ford seems to believe the public doesn’t deserve information about what he’s up to and why, and that’s wrong.”
With three regulations quietly postponed this month, it appears Doug Ford is governing from backrooms — making changes to laws behind closed doors.
No one voted for business to be conducted in secret.
People deserve to know who has Mr. Ford’s ear on these issues. #onpoli
— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) July 4, 2018
Here’s a list of programs already scrapped by the new Ontario government:
The cap and trade
On June 15, Ford announced that his government’s first act after swearing in will be to cancel Ontario’s current cap-and-trade scheme. Ford also said he would challenge the federal government’s current authority to impose a carbon tax on Ontario residents.
Ford also said that he will withdraw Ontario from the joint agreement with Quebec and California’s cap-and-trade markets as well as the pro-carbon tax Western Climate Initiative.
Ontario’s cap and trade program limits the amount of pollution a company is allowed to produce in the province. When a company will exceed these limits they can purchase allowances at auction.
Green Ontario Fund
Launched in the fall by the Wynne government, the Green Ontario Fund was set up to help residents save money while fighting climate change.
GreenON was also launched online and the program was part of Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan and is funded by proceeds from the province’s cap on pollution and carbon market. At the time, the province said it was investing $377 million from its carbon market to establish the new Green Ontario Fund.
But months into the program, it’s now no longer in existence.
“All GreenON residential rebate programs are now closed,” stated a tweet by the Fund on Tuesday. It’s website also shows a list of all its closed programs as of June 20.
OHIP+ free prescription drug benefit
Just months after the Liberal Party granted Ontario residents 24 and under with private coverage access to free prescription drugs as part of the province’s new OHIP+ program, helping make prescription drugs more accessible, the Ford government announced it will no longer offer free prescriptions to kids and young adults with private coverage.
Christine Elliott, the province’s new health minister, made the announcement a day after she was officially sworn in, saying “Premier Ford promised the people he would find efficiencies without compromising service or jobs, and we are delivering.”
According to a joint investigative report from CBC and the Toronto Star, the Ontario government has “quietly shelved” a major part of a controversial anti-scalping law that’s part of the Ticket Sales Act that would put a cap on the prices scalpers could charge for concerts and sporting events.
The report stated that Premier Ford’s office confirmed the government is “suspending a portion of the law” that would cap the resale price of tickets at 50% above face value, which was set to take effect July 1.
Portions of the Ticket Sales Act still came into effect on July 1, including the ban of ticket-buying bots. However, there’s no indication of what the new government plans to do to curb skyrocketing ticket prices on resale websites.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath took to Twitter to call out Ford for the suspension, saying this move is a “step backward.”
New vaping regulations on hold
On July 4, the Vapors Advocates of Ontario said that they received notice that the regulations due to come into effect on July 1, 2018 were put on hold so that government could carefully review the regulations.
In a release, the Vapors Advocates said, “according to emails received by vaping industry stakeholders… ‘the government plans to work with the public, experts and businesses to re-examine the evidence related to vaping as a smoking cessation tool to ensure that any changes are in the best interests of everyone and protect Ontarians’ health and safety.'”
The issue, argues Joe Mihevc, Chair of the Toronto Board of Health, has already been reviewed.
“Vaping has already had an intense review by the Ontario public health community,” he said. “Multiple concerns had been analyzed and vaping has been found lacking. Let’s not go backward on the issue of the controlling the ill health effects of tobacco.”
$100 million in school repairs
On July 9, Doug Ford’s government cancelled $100 million for school repairs, which they said is a result of cancelling Ontario’s participation in the cap-and-trade market.
“It’s sad that there is no hope coming for kids and educators, and absolutely disgusting that our children’s classrooms is one of the first places Doug Ford’s axe is falling,” said NDP MPP-elect Peggy Sattler. “Ontario’s students need more opportunity and resources – not less.”
Curriculum modernization plan with Indigenous content
Just after announcing the $100 million cut from school repairs, the Ford government sent out a memo to Ontario teachers saying that the 2018 summer curriculum writing sessions are cancelled.
The modernization process was to include co-development of the new curriculum with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit partners, pursuing one of the recommendations of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
In a letter publicly shared by social media users, the government asks anyone of the TRC summer writing team to stay home, and they have been offered reimbursements for travel expenses they’ve already covered for the meetings that were to begin Monday.
“The new Ontario government has cancelled curriculum writing sessions designed to fulfill Truth & Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action surrounding education on Residential Schools,” said Perry Bellegrarde, Candidate for National Chief, Assembly of First Nations.
“Ontario committed to working with Indigenous partners to address the legacy of residential schools. Premier Doug Ford needs to tell us how his government plans to deliver on the TRC Calls to Action.”
White Pines Wind Project
Effective July 10, the Ontario Government said that it has cancelled the White Pines Wind Project. In a government press release, it says the project “received notice to proceed during the election period before the government had a chance to make any decision on the project for the benefit of the people of Prince Edward County.”
The White Pines Wind Project was to consist of 9 wind turbines that would feed an estimated 52,295,800 kWh annually into the local electricity grid, equivalent to the average annual power use of 3,005 homes.
With files from Ainsley Smith.