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Doug Ford's impact on Young Ontarians

An opinion piece, by Madeleine Hamilton

How Doug Ford is Negatively Affecting Young Ontarians

Doug Ford is the current premier of Ontario, and his ideas are a serious danger to the future of young Ontarians. Ford was elected as premier in 2018 and has since made cuts to education on various levels, ranging from enlarging class sizes to cutting funds from post-secondary grant and loan support, and most recently, has a union representing 55,000 school assistance and caretakers closing down schools until they come to a new agreement.

On July 11, 2018, the Progressive Conservative Party, which Ford represents, announced they would be switching back to the 1998 sex-ed curriculum, which teaches nothing about consent, sexual identity, sexuality, and the issue of homophobia, which are all very important matters in today’s society. Also, on October 24, they announced that they planned to scrap the Ontario College of Trades despite Ford being very supportive and encouraging of trades. In January 2019, the Ford government announced they would be eliminating the offer of free tuition for low-income students, and also cut $670 million from OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program), which helps students pay for university and college funds through grants and loans. Hundreds of students felt the cuts from OSAP, with some losing over half of their original grants and loans. The Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario held a poll on Twitter, asking if students had enough OSAP to help them afford the next school year, and 77% of the students that answered said no. Aside from that, it was announced that tuition would be cut by 10%, taking away $360 million from universities and $80 million from colleges. Ford is jeopardizing the future of countless Ontarians, and whether he is doing it unintentionally, he must be stopped.

Demands for action about climate change have risen significantly over the past few years, and the Ontario government has made little effort, leaving it to their residents. However, regardless of the little effort that had been done, Ford decided to absolutely reverse with claims of it being too expensive, or too wasteful of jobs. For example, the Cap and Trade, which monitors carbon emissions and makes large industries that use more carbon pay higher taxes were scrapped. Rod Phillips, Ford’s then appointed Environment Minister for his Executive Council, said it would save Ontarians $264 each year, but what he didn’t mention is that it will supposedly add $3 billion to the province’s deficit. Ford is also very against the carbon tax which encourages the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, introduced by the Trudeau government. The carbon tax is extremely successful economically; British Columbia and Alberta have had a carbon tax for over ten years, and they have the fastest-growing economies in the country. The current Environment Minister, Jeff Yurek, states that the carbon tax is “making life more expensive for Ontario’s hardworking individuals, families and businesses.” However, assuming that the carbon tax is removed, that money may still be needed and may be added to another tax of some sort. Ford’s government went to the Supreme Court of Canada for the carbon tax, and did not win, but are working on appealing the case, which was met with heavy criticism from the opposing political party leaders. Ford believes that the people will decide the fate of the carbon tax in the federal election later this year, and promises that their choice will be “respected” through democracy. As well as fighting the carbon tax, he removed all electric vehicles chargers from GO train stations, which were supposed to encourage the use of electric cars in public spaces. Ford countlessly proves that he disregards the demands of the public, and has moved backwards from facing the current climate crisis.

On April 4, 2019, over 100,000 students from 700 schools across Ontario walked out of classes to protest Ford’s changes to the education system; increasing class sizes, making students take at least one online class per year, fewer course options, etc. If fewer class options are available, many students will not be able to get into electives they need for their future. Education Minister Lisa Thompson stated that there would be no lost jobs from teachers, but it has been assumed that thousands of teachers will lose their jobs from the increasing class sizes, and Ford pointed fingers at the “union bosses” for organizing the student walkout, despite it being completely student-organized. When Ford threatened education, students spoke up and physically showed their opposition, but his government has yet to make any known changes. On October 5, it was announced that the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), which represents 55,000 workers, including caretakers, office administrators, special education assistants, etc, would be striking. They’re striking for more sick days and a higher wage in their new contract. They’ve threatened that if they do not reach an agreement by the end of this weekend, they would strike Monday, October 7 and onward until an agreement is met. Their strike will close down over 30 school boards across Ontario, including some of the biggest. Education Minister Stephen Leece believes the money used for sick leave could be better used for textbooks, infrastructure and technology and see the rising amount of sick days as a concern. CUPE members currently have 11 annual sick days at full pay, followed by 120 short-term disability leave at 90% pay, and the government has proposed the idea of lowering the amount of pay for staff on short-term leave, but CUPE leaders say it is the government’s responsibility to ensure the health of its staff and that the copious amount of sick days may be caused by stress from their surroundings. Despite the accusations and proposals, Ford’s government cannot allow this strike to happen; it is interrupting other staff from their work and is forcing parents to scramble to find care for their young children while they’re at work. The government needs to sign an agreement and come up with a compromise that makes CUPE satisfied and gets the schools open again.

Doug Ford was elected premier of Ontario just last year, and since then has caused two major strikes, and has jeopardized countless futures of young Ontarians. He is setting a horrible example by contradicting many statements he or his government makes and is entirely hypocritical. It is evident that he does not care for the future of his province and will reverse anything that he believes is not beneficial to his idea of Ontario.