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Doug Ford

Benns’ Belief: Politicians are human — and so is learning from our mistakes

in Opinion by
Playgrounds, public health now knows, are not hotspots for COVID transmissions. (File photo from first lockdown.)

As we navigate Lockdown Number Whatever due to the pandemic it’s clear the politicians are determined to simply do what they want. It’s governance by political calculus, not public health needs.

Yes, Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are human. They’re bound to make mistakes during an unparalleled crisis in our history. Other than the most partisan among us, they have been cut a lot of slack by most people I’ve heard from.

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Union says Ford government needs to do five things to get schools ready to open again

in Education by
TLDSB recognizes no mandatory online training occurred for local teachers

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) says the provincial Conservative government’s decision to close schools today because of the surging pandemic is only the first step of what should happen next.

Ontario schools will stay closed indefinitely to in-person learning as the pandemic surges in Ontario to levels not seen before. Premier Doug Ford just announced this Monday afternoon along with Education Minister Stephen Lecce – just 24 hours after Lecce had said schools were safe to resume classes after the break.

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Caribbean scandal: An apology is not enough when the premier knew all along

in Opinion by
Former finance minister Rod Phillips was vacationing here in St. Barts while Premier Doug Ford knew about it.

It doesn’t take a political genius to realize that what the public may remember from the Rod Phillips scandal is that Premier Doug Ford, by his own admission, knew much more about his minister’s Caribbean trip than he first let on.

While the rest of Ontario was facing COVID-19 inspired travel restrictions, the premier did nothing to right the public relations disaster before it damaged both he and his government irreparably.

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Two sets of rules — one for Ontario’s politicians and one for the public

in Opinion by
St. Barts, the Caribbean island where Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips has been spending time on vacation.

During a time of national emergency Ontarians need role models for civic minded behaviour. Members of the ruling Progressive Conservative party led by Premier Doug Ford should be setting these examples of appropriate behaviour during this pandemic, but they are not.

From the premier on down the clear message is there are two sets of rules — one for politicians and another for the general public. This needs to stop.

Since the declaration of a pandemic last March, Ontarians have been told to follow government mandates regarding personal hygiene, travel and gatherings for the good of all. Ford, MPP Sam Oosterhoff, Finance Minister Rod Phillips and MPP Randy Hillier have ignored these rules making it doubly hard for public health agencies to convince Ontarians that their mandates need to be followed.

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Ford’s folly a return to form

in Opinion by
Ford’s folly a return to form
Ford has returned to his original form: a deliberate lack of transparency, cherry-picking data and pandering to corporate interests.

Like a lot of people, I was pleasantly surprised at Doug Ford’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis early in the pandemic.

Despite a couple of early missteps, he was fairly consistent in his messaging and worked well with the federal government — as it supplied the province billions of dollars in COVID support — avoiding the hyper-partisanship of other conservative premiers.

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Long-term care needs action now, not in 2025

in Opinion by

Just last month, many unions and health advocates for long-term care were initially ecstatic to learn that the Ontario government was finally taking the necessary steps to improve quality of care for seniors in Ontario.

The government announced it would establish a new standard that would ensure that residents in nursing homes receive an “average of four hours of direct care, every day,” up from the 2.75 hours of care they receive now on average.

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Dismissal of basic income class action lawsuit to be appealed  

in Social Issues by
Dismissal of basic income class action lawsuit to be appealed  
Local lawyer Mike Perry, left, with members of the Toronto law firm of Cavalluzzo LLP in Lindsay.

A decision made last week by a Superior Court of Justice judge to dismiss the Ontario basic income class action lawsuit will be appealed.

The lawsuit was initiated by four Lindsay residents — Dana Bowman, Grace Marie Doyle Hillion, Susan Lindsay, and Tracey Mechefske. They argued through their lawyers that the early termination of the Ontario Basic Income Pilot’s payments amounted to “a breach of contract, a breach of undertaking, negligence…and a breach of section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms — and that as a result they have suffered damages.

The Advocate has learned that the Toronto law firm that represents them, Cavalluzzo LLP Barristers & Solicitors, will appeal, after the firm discussed their options with the four plaintiffs.

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Reader says Ford’s pro-development bills are hurting environment, seniors

in Letters to the Editor by

There is an old adage that goes way back in time and that has been used by political leaders of all stripes. That adage is, ‘never waste a good crisis.’

The basic premise is that in times of crisis the public’s attention is almost totally focused on the crisis at hand, and a government in power can often push through legislation that would normally get much more scrutiny and public attention/outcry, were it not for the singular focus on the given crisis. War is a good example of this.

Our current crisis is, of course, COVID-19. Our provincial government under Premier Doug Ford has made good use of this technique in 2020, largely through omnibus bills where legislation is hidden, often under the guise of dealing with the pandemic.

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What options are parents considering?

in Back to School 2020/Education by

Back-to-school decisions have never been as complex as the ones facing parents and guardians this fall.

With no vaccine and concern about a second wave of the pandemic arriving in late fall, parents spent much of the summer agonizing about whether to send their children back to school, enrol them in e-learning or home-school them this year.

Since Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce made their announcements on schools reopening, social media have been ablaze with parents of school-aged children asking for advice from other parents who are facing the same circumstances.

One common topic is the concept of “podding,” where a group of parents combine financial resources to hire a teacher to instruct their similarly-aged children either in person or online, at least for the fall and early winter. The teacher provides the expertise the parents don’t have, the cost is shared across several families, children are no longer being isolated in their family group, and the parents can wait out the growing pains that regular schools will experience in dealing with COVID-19.

Depending upon the size of the pod and the number of children involved, the costs would likely be in the range of $50-$100 a week per family.

Most local families, of course, cannot afford podding.

Three parents of multiple children agreed to be interviewed anonymously for this article. They all agreed that they had very few choices for the fall beyond sending their children back to school and hoping that the province and local schoolboards can keep their children safe.

“The Catholic board seems to be playing catch-up,” one parent observed. “Communication has been terrible, and rumours become Facebook facts when the board is silent. I have heard that our board is allowing cottagers to enroll their children locally rather than return to their urban homes. I have phoned the board office to find out if that is true and gotten no satisfaction,” she continued.

“I don’t have the competency to help my kids as they enter high school,” a second parent admitted, “and our internet is just not good enough to sustain the two of us working from home and our kids trying to do their schooling from home. I am terrified, as are my girlfriends.”

“I think Dougie (Premier Doug Ford) has gone for cheap rather than safe,” said a third parent, “but families like ours don’t have the choices that some do. One thing though, they won’t be riding the bus. Fifty kids on a bus … those are mobile petri dishes. I will drive them and pick them up.”

Most schools re-opening in the fall: TLDSB to announce more details soon

in Education/Health by
Where is our local voice? School board should speak out about Ford’s classroom plans
Students will be cohorted into small learning groups to reduce contacts with others.

Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced in Whitby today the re-opening of most Ontario schools for a five day a week, five hour a day of regular learning commencing Sept. 8.

The event, held at a Catholic secondary school, was a who’s who of the provincial Conservative Party with local MPP Laurie Scott joining in for the announcement. Durham Catholic trustees were invited and were in attendance, but no teaching staff or support staff were present for this crucial announcement.

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