Five ways Doug Ford’s government hurt public services in 2021

To analyse

From private health care to school cuts to “compensation” freezes

From threatening to lay off thousands of education workers to blocking paid sick leave for health care workers, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government has spent the year 2021 to undermine essential public services.

Here are some of Doug Ford’s low points in 2021.

Plot to lay off thousands of frontline education workers

In March, PressProgress was the first to report on a leaked memo warning school boards to expect $1.6 billion in education cuts and more “layoff notices” than usual. The next day, the Ministry of Education blamed Ontario teachers’ unions for the same memo.

Ford eventually backed down – choosing to cut education by just $500 million.

Elsewhere, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce has encouraged TVO to find ways to “market” its e-learning content — possibly including content produced for schools.

Allow private long-term care homes to raise rents

Ontario’s largest private long-term care operators are expecting “revenue increases” in 2022 as Doug Ford allows them to raise fees for private and semi-private rooms.

A ministry spokesperson confirmed PressProgress that the Ford government intends to end the fee freeze and allow rates to increase on January 1, 2022:

“Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the annual co-pay rate increase for residents of long-term care homes will be suspended until January 1, 2022. Current accommodation rates still apply. .”

Fight against paid sick days

As COVID-19 infections increased during the third wave, Doug Ford refused again and again to legislate paid sick leave – after cutting it in 2018. On February 16, he called paid sick leave “a waste of taxpayers’ money.Later, he said, proponents of paid sick leave were “totally irresponsible.”

While the Ford government eventually introduced a paid sick leave benefit, administered by the WSIB, its wage cap legislation will still prevent some nurses from accessing paid sick leave.

by Doug Ford Bill-124 limits “pay increases” in the public sector to 1% per year for three years. With inflation likely to rise to 5% this year, that means a cut for workers employed by universities, school boards, public long-term care homes, children’s aid societies and hospitals. .

More importantly, it also means that workers currently being denied paid sick leave, such as part-time nurses, will not get it.

Other healthcare workers, meanwhile, will not be able to access N95 masks thanks to another directive from the Ford government. As PressProgress was the first to report, a ministry directive allows employers to “refuse” certain requests for N95 masks from “unregulated” health workers. And, during negotiations, the government reportedly refused to delete the memo.

Privatization of parts of Ontario’s health care system

In August, PressProgress looked at the Ford government’s plan to help Ontario hospitals eliminate their “surgery backlog” — by privatizing parts of the province’s health care system.

Specifically, the government’s announcement pledged to expand the use of independent health facilities – non-hospital health sites that perform medically necessary operations typically performed in hospitals.

According to the Ontario Health Coalition, 97% of current IHFs are for-profit companies.

In January, the Ontario Ministry of Health announced that it was considering allowing “independent health facilities” to perform eye surgeries. The Ministry of Health launched a “call for applications” on January 15 and clarified that applicants could be a “company” rather than an ophthalmologist:

“The applicant does not need to be an ophthalmologist. The applicant could be a company that operates a healthcare facility that meets the criteria for submitting an application. »

Putting a former Shoppers Drug Mart lobbyist in charge of his ‘pandemic response’

Emily Beduz, the Ford government’s “pandemic response director,” is a former private health lobbyist. Beduz previously represented Shoppers Drug Mart and other companies seeking contracts related to COVID-19.

Shoppers Drug Mart said in its filing with Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner that it was “seeking policy changes that would allow it to ‘improve’ Ontario’s health care system.”

In August 2020, Ford’s government began talks with Shoppers’ parent company to offer COVID-19 testing at its pharmacies across the province. A month later, Shoppers was on the list of companies approached by the province to provide COVID-19 testing.

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