It really is all a huge game with Ontario (and all other Provinces) crying poor and trying to screw money out of the Feds while doing things like refunding licence fees or sending cheques to everyone. Then it is even better to exaggerate possible deficits so you can claim 'amazing financial management" when the deficit vanishes or is greatly reduced. THIS allows you to cut taxes just before an election call or start new things (Highway 413, for example). Of course, from a taxpayer POV, it makes no difference, it is all OUR money!The FAO (Financial Accountability Office) put out their latest provincial budget outlook last week.
This Economic and Budget Outlook report provides the FAO’s projection of the Ontario government’s fiscal position over the 2022-23 to 2026-27 period.fao-on.org
In it, they show the deficit for this year being ~2.5B vs the more than 12B stated by the government in its Fall update.
Interestingly, a great deal of this has to do with under-spending, rather than higher revenues.
But also of note, the report couldn't have included January's employment data which was much stronger than anticipated, and likely means, barring very steep downtown turn this month or next, that revenues will be higher than the FAO anticipates.
I assume the following:
1) The government is either approaching or will reach a balanced budget this fiscal year.
2) I doubt they actually want that, I imagine a last minute flurry of spending announcements are due. I don't know that, nor can I state what they may be (though I'm hearing some things about what Ministries have been told to cost out)
3) I imagine the last minute spending flurry moves us back into the red, though not as deeply as stated in the fall.
I would argue for actually balancing the budget this year, (for the fiscal year just coming to an end) and only adding some additional dollars to bail out cities for Covid for the current and coming fiscal years.
For next year, however, I would really like to prioritize increasing Ontario Works in a significant way to help ease the burdens on the most disadvantaged.
An increase of $300 per month would cost roughly 1.8B per year; while easing the claw-backs for those who fine work would cost perhaps another 400M net (more gross, but a chunk of that is returned as income tax and higher rent-geared-to-income) .
It would also be good to see a proper, thoughtful, investment in hospitals, in mental healthcare and in enhanced access to prescription drugs w/o money being a barrier; we obviously also need money for affordable housing and transit expansion as well.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford hosted a party at his house where land developers brought cash gifts for his soon-to-be-married daughter.
Wow. That’s a real problem.
Let’s see if this makes it better: The Premier said those developers (whom he won’t name) were his buddies.
Nope. Not much better. Mr. Ford is friends with a lot of developers, in some cases for decades – but that doesn’t mean everything is okay because the cash gifts came from the Premier’s pals.
But wait: Mr. Ford eventually went to the Integrity Commissioner of Ontario, David Wake who, according to the Premier, cleared it “1,000 per cent.”
Still not better. Now it appears Ontario has another problem. Because if this kind of thing is okay, then the province’s ethics regime is itself broken.
It is worth noting Mr. Wake didn’t conduct an inquiry, but instead gave an opinion based on the information Mr. Ford supplied to his office. Based on that information – specifically, that the Premier had no knowledge of the gifts to his daughter and son-in-law, and that no government business was discussed at the party – the commissioner’s opinion was that there was “nothing to indicate non-compliance with the Members’ Integrity Act.”
In a press conference, Mr. Ford assured Ontarians that it was “ridiculous” that journalists were even asking about it: “I know the difference of what we should and shouldn’t do,” he said.
No, Mr. Ford. You do not.
A premier should never allow this to happen. And if it happens without the premier’s knowledge, then he should be aghast – and immediately reveal it all publicly, in detail.
Why? Because the ethical principles for our political leaders aren’t just supposed to catch them if they do something that is flat-out corrupt. They are supposed to prevent them entering into a situation where they receive benefits from people who might want things from government – to avoid raising questions about potential conflicts in the public’s mind.
The event in question was a pre-wedding “stag and doe” party held last summer for Mr. Ford’s daughter and her fiancé, where guests brought cash gifts for the couple.
The Toronto Star reported the names of two developers invited whose businesses have been affected by decisions of Mr. Ford’s government. Mario Cortellucci, who the Star said sat at the Premier’s table, had properties that obtained provincial zoning orders; developer Shakir Rehmatullah’s companies own property that Mr. Ford’s government recently removed from the province’s protected Greenbelt area.
Of course, Mr. Ford can certainly have friends, and developer friends, too. But no premier should allow such an event, let alone host it.
The stag and does might be a tradition in some places, but once you are the premier – or your dad is premier – the financial donations have to be off limits. It’s not okay for cash to be solicited for the Premier’s family member, especially from people who are likely to have business interests in provincial government decisions.
That should go without saying. But lately there seems to be an unwillingness to understand the basics of ethical principles in government.
In federal politics, Liberal Trade Minister Mary Ng was recently found to have breached the Conflict of Interest Act by steering two contracts to a company run by a friend, yet she and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shrugged it off as a mere mistake.
Now Mr. Ford doesn’t even seem to see the problem with hosting this party.
It’s hard to know just how many of the guests had business with the government, or who solicited which invitees for how much cash – because Mr. Ford insists that is a private, personal, family matter. It is not.
If Mr. Ford did not know about the gifts, one has to wonder why his daughter and whoever organized the shindig didn’t tell him. Isn’t he angry he was left in the dark? He did not even ask the Integrity Commissioner for an opinion about whether the party broke the rules until long afterward, when journalists asked questions.
The point is that the event put a premier in a situation that raises the kind of questions that are supposed to be avoided by a government conflict-of-interest and ethics regime. It should never have happened. The Premier is wrong to defend it. And if the rules allow it, they need to be changed.
So OK some of us agree this shindig was wrong. I have been at some stag & doe parties, which incidentally were organized by a member of the bridal party, i.e. Maid of Honour or Best Man and associated entourage. (Never the parents of the groom or bride) Friends and family of the bride and groom were invited, never the friends of the parents. No one was ever coerced or forced to pay exorbitant amounts of money. Realizing, the parties I attended were not organized by PM's or Premiers, but never the less they were organized by some high profile families. This whole Ford shindig is/was wrong. It's not about Ford's friends bringing cash gifts to a wedding, this is about large cash gifts for a stag & doe party where according to some, they were coerced or forced to pay for entrance. Also, no matter what, I simply don't believe no business was discussed and Ford was aware of the cash gifts. I am sure Mr Wake cleared Ford of what Ford has told him after the affair, but I wonder if Mr. Ford had approached Mr. Wake before the party with: "Okay Dave, we're planning a mafiosa style party and I am inviting a few of my builder friends, you know the same guys who are profiting from me opening up the Green Belt and shake em down for a few thousand bucks for a raffle gift and a hotdog" things might have not been cleared. Was the commissioner invited to oversee that no business was conducted?
Fifteen years after famously comparing laid-off nurses to workers in hula-hoop factories, former Progressive Conservative premier Mike Harris is back in the nursing business.
Harris and his wife, Laura, announced Tuesday they are starting a home-care franchise called “Nurse Next Door” to help seniors — pointing out the over-65 crowd comprises 15 per cent of Toronto’s population.
“It’s about helping our seniors celebrate aging and getting them back to doing the things they love,” Harris said in a statement, noting his wife was a registered nurse before joining the business world.
Laura Harris, who will run the day-to-day operations, promised everything from “a few hours of friendly companionship through to round-the-clock nursing care.”
After the Conservatives took power in 1995 and slashed hospital budgets by $800 million in efforts to slay annual government deficits, Harris was blamed for layoffs of nurses and other hospital workers that followed.
“Just as hula hoops went out and those workers had to have a factory and a company that would manufacture something else that’s in, it’s the same for government,” Harris told reporters in 1997.
“Governments have put off these decisions for so many years that restructuring sometimes is painful,” he added, explaining the cuts.
A delay by Ontario Premier Doug Ford to engage in discussions about how to end so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests paralyzing the national capital last year amounted to a message that city residents had been abandoned by their provincial government during a time of crisis, a federal report concluded Friday.
Justice Paul Rouleau, tasked with investigating the decision by the federal government to use the Emergencies Act to end the Freedom Convoy blockades, also criticized Ontario’s former Solicitor General Sylvia Jones’ actions as Ottawa’s beleaguered police force sought outside help.
He called it “ill-advised” that she said 1,500 OPP officers were in Ottawa, as it left the impression that many people were there when in fact that was a number of cumulative shifts and said her ministry should have taken more action to monitor the performance of the Ottawa Police Board.
Squabbling between police agencies, and Ontario’s refusal to participate in political-level talks aimed at finding a solution to the crisis in Ottawa compounded the problem — and it was “troubling” that Ontario’s political leaders took so long to engage, Rouleau wrote.
“Given that the city and its police services were clearly overwhelmed, it was incumbent on the province to become visibly, publicly and wholeheartedly engaged from the outset,” he wrote.
The fact neither Ford nor Jones responded to summons to testify before the inquiry left the commission at a “regrettable disadvantage” in its understanding of the provincial perspective, Rouleau wrote.
“The commission would have greatly benefited from the perspective that their testimony could provide.”
The commission heard testimony and received evidence from Ontario bureaucrats, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson that the Ford government saw no political reason to be at the table for early talks on the protests, believing it to be a police matter.
During a call between Trudeau and Watson, the prime minister said: “Doug Ford has been hiding from his responsibility on it for political reasons,” the inquiry heard.
It was a revelation of a rare point of tension between the two leaders who had built up considerable goodwill in the years both had been in office.
Rouleau’s landmark report catalogues multiple logistical, security and political failures that all contributed to the fact that the Liberal government had no choice but to invoke the never-before used Emergencies Act to end last year’s protests.
Prior to the Act’s invocation, Rouleau noted, Ontario was not spurred to act until there was a blockade at Windsor’s Ambassador Bridge, and it was only then that “collaboration became the name of the game.”
If that had happened from the start, he wrote, it could have well assisted in ironing out the early issues that plagued the response to the protests, and helped make it clear which authorities could be used by which levels of government.
“It could have also provided the people of Ottawa with a clear message that they had not been abandoned by their provincial government during a time of crisis,” he wrote, calling the entire exercise a “failure of federalism.”
“Responding to situations of threat and urgency in a federal system requires governments at all levels, and those who lead them, to rise above politics and collaborate for the common good,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, in January and February 2022 this did not always happen.”
Both Ford and Jones had exercised “parliamentary privilege” as a reason not to testify — among his 56 recommendations, Rouleau said the Act should be amended to clarify that at least for federal politicians, they can’t claim privilege not to appear.