The Summer Scuttlebutt: Rating the Government
Open, transparent and fiscally prudent provincial government?
Although many students in Ontario did not get a report card or teacher’s comments this year, that shouldn’t prevent voters from looking back and rating Premier Wynne’s Liberals after their first year as a majority government.
However, before we get started on the Wynne Government report card, I’ve also included detailed updates on a number of legislative subjects that you see here by clicking on each of the following:
Hydro One; Bill 45 (e-cigs); Bill 27 (Lyme Disease); Bill 31 which introduced new fines and penalties under the Highway Traffic Act; proposed changes between Provincial Offenses and Administrative Monetary Penalties.
Just over one year ago, Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals were elected with a majority government and the Premier quickly and the vociferously proclaimed she would govern from the activist center, and be “the most Open, Transparent, Accountable and Fiscally Prudent government” ever. I’m sure many of us weren't quite sure what “the activist center” meant at the time but we are getting a clearer picture now. It’s time to see if the deeds match her words; I hope you take a few moments to rate the Wynne government’s performance. I’ll be sure to send her your results and restate them in the House when it resumes in September.
CREDIT DOWNGRADE-The first week of July saw Ontario’s credit rating downgraded once again to A- from AA+, which will further increase the cost of borrowing and interest payments on the taxpayers $300 Billion debt and yearly deficits. This is one of five consecutive credit downgrades since the Liberals took office in 2003. While the banks and bondholders get more money in their pockets, the taxpayer ends up with less money in theirs, longer wait times, fewer maintained roads and less assistance to the poor and disabled. Although Ontario is geographically far removed from Greece, it appears we are determined to move fiscally closer to Greece.
HYDRO ONE- The budget passed and with it the enabling legislation that will sell or give away 60% of Hydro One for approximately $9 Billion while the taxpayers remain stuck with nearly $30 Billion of Hydro debt to repay. This is akin to selling your home but not discharging your mortgage on the home. Adding insult to injury, the Premier is also giving away shares of Hydro One to the Power Workers Union, along with a 3% wage increase and a 3% signing bonus.
- TEACHERS STRIKES-The Premier would have us believe she’s taken a "tough stance" with the teachers; this has resulted in strikes, work to rule, and no report cards, negatively affecting thousands of students and families. This saga is sure to continue in September as talks have broken off, but after the sweetheart deal with the power workers, can we really expect any less of an offer for the teachers unions using our children as leverage? I wonder how many shares of Hydro One Networks will be offered to the teachers’ pension plan?
OPP INVESTIGATIONS-The Sudbury by-elections brought with it a 4th OPP investigation, complementing the deleted official emails, the ORNGE fiasco, and gas plants investigations. It’s now been four years since the first of these investigations began and there’s no end in sight. Thankfully most blue collar crimes don't take this long to investigate, maybe it’s easier to get the truth out of hardened criminals than from the Liberal cabinet? I have heard from many people that are becoming very suspicious of the relationship between the Premier’s office and the OPP brass.
ONTARIO PENSION PLAN – The new ORPP passed which authorizes a mandatory government pension for all workers and businesses other than union employees with a pension plan. It doesn’t sound all that bad until you search through the details and find there are a few little devils in there. First, only people who are currently under 30 will ever be able to claim full pension benefits, however all workers, regardless of age, will pay the pension tax (except those same unionized employees). Secondly, anyone eventually receiving Ontario pension benefits would be subject to potential clawbacks of the federal CPP pension benefits. It is a lose/lose proposition for everyone other than the Liberal government, who will get people's money yet provide most people absolutely nothing in return.
- Did you hear about the TV Ontario documentary on Kathleen Wynne? It costs the taxpayer-funded TVO just over $100,000 to film the Premier behind the scenes. However after screening a preview, she didn’t like her portrayal or what was said, and refused to sign the film’s release. Apparently the film was a little too transparent.
CAP & TRADE/CARBON TAX- Although the details remain foggy and smoggy, this legislation creates a new bureaucracy to develop a tax/cost on fossil fuels and their derivatives, with both direct producers and consumers of gasoline, diesel, home heating fuels (such as propane, oil and natural gas) along with aviation fuels and electricity paying more- how much more is anyone's guess at this time. Of course every person and every business will be affected, however there are a few winners in the Cap & Trade sweepstakes, and they are the heavily taxpayer funded solar & wind developers.
MARS- During Estimates Committee we discovered Wynne was funneling significant money to a private charity and paying for their new downtown Toronto high-rise. Medical and Related Services (MARS) received over $400 million to build their building only to find out they couldn’t rent the space. In the end the taxpayer came to the rescue once again and not only paid the mortgage but agreed to rent the space.
OFL/WSIB SLUSH FUND- For many years WSIB was giving the Ontario Federation of Labour about $1 million per year ostensibly to assist injured workers, however it came to light that the OFL employees may have been spending much of their time at resorts and buying gym memberships instead of helping injured workers. The outside consulting firm KPMG had long stated in their audits that the program had little value for injured workers.
Has the Wynne government been open with the people of Ontario? Strongly Disagree, Somewhat Disagree, Neither Agree Nor Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree.
What is the activist center? We are starting to get a clearer image by looking at what legislation and policies the Liberals allowed to be passed this past year.
1. A ban on killer whales (orcas);
2. Hispanic Heritage Month Act;
3. Ontario Bike Month Act;
4. Terry Fox Day Act;
5. Affirming Sexual Orientation and Gender Identify Act;
6. Intergenerational Day Act;
7. Ontario Flag Day Act;
8. Protecting Child Performers Act;
9. The Christmas Tree Day Act;
10. A ban on e-cigs;
11. Bill 9 Ending coal power generation, (we don’t have any coal plants);
12. Bill 21 a ban on private blood clinics;
13. A new sex education curriculum without any debate;
14. Bill 10 making babysitting a regulated industry and licensed by the province.
Do you support governing from the Activist center?Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither Agree Nor Disagree, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree
There were a few private members Bills that were passed and should be noted: Bill 20 reverses the ban on Asthma inhalers at schools and now permits students to have these on their person. Ryan’s law was introduced by Jeff Yurek after a student in his riding died at school because he could not access his inhaler after suffering an attack.
I invite you to share this survey and email with your friends.