EDITORIAL: No more bull, please

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Premier Doug Ford has been in office for almost a year, but it seems like he’s only now learning that government can’t always move as quickly as he would want it.

He’s also learning – hopefully – that government shouldn’t operate like a bull in a china shop.

Ford’s government is now backing away from some hefty spending cuts to municipalities. Those cuts were part of the province’s 2019 Budget, announced in early April. It left municipalities scrambling, especially since most had already approved their own budgets for 2019. It was incredibly unfair for the province to reduce its funding to cities and towns after local budgets were struck.

And so now those cuts have been postponed. It means locally elected councils can better plan for the future, or at least have more time to plan for the future. And it also means that the provincial government can be more selective and informed about what funding it should reduce or eliminate for 2020-21.


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It’s not that Ford and his Progressive Conservatives didn’t campaign a year ago on making big changes in the way Ontario is governed. He promised to balance the provincial budget, and that alone would require immense changes in spending decisions. Those who voted for him (a sizeable number of Ontarians, given the fact the Tories won a majority government) must have had at least an inkling there would be big changes ahead.

But those changes haven’t been implemented in the best fashion. Some have been downright clumsy. The cuts to municipalities are an example. But so are the cuts to education, which immediately impacted teachers. School boards were compelled to issue redundancy letters a month ago, given the scope of the cuts announced by the Ford government. But it was only a few weeks into that process that the government announced a $1.6-billion fund to ensure there would be no layoffs.

Why wouldn’t details of the fund be announced at the same time as the government’s funding cuts? School boards are now announcing revisions to the number of teachers they believe they will need in September. It turns out the news isn’t nearly as bad as it was a month earlier.

It seems that Doug Ford enjoys being the bull in the china shop. He enjoys smashing the glass and watching the response of others. When protests were held at Queen’s Park in early May because of cuts to Ontario’ health care system, the premier almost glowed with the attention, and couldn’t help but throw more fuel on the fire by commenting that the protesters were probably being paid to protest.

That ham-fisted approach has never worked with Ontarians. And it won’t now.

That doesn’t mean work to trim Ontario’s budget deficit can’t happen.

But we don’t need the bull-in-the-china-shop approach.

– Peter Epp

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