Ontario’s lack of climate action could throw all of Canada out of alignment with international commitments, the province’s former environment commissioner warns.
The OFL is keeping a list of Ontario PC actions to date.
PC actions to date (highlights):
- Forced the London Health Sciences Centre to reduce staffing hours, equating to a loss of 165 full-time positions
- Introduced Bill 124, Protecting a Sustainable Public Sector for Future Generations Act, which caps improvements to public sector workers’ wages and overall compensation at 1 per cent per year for 3 years
- Aims to reduce the number of inspectors tasked with investigating workplace abuses to pre-Bill 148 levels
- Forced Legal Aid Ontario to cut funding for Canadian Environmental Law Association by 37%, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario by 25%, and the Income Security Advocacy Centre by 25% over 2 years; to slash $14 million in funding Toronto-based clinics(which will be disproportionately affected); and to no longer pay lawyers to do bail hearings for most accused
- Forced the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board to cut 173 courses – in addition to laying off 99 teachers earlier this year
- Slashed funding for Leave the Pack Behind, an Ontario agency that helps young people quit smoking, triggering the loss of 27 jobs
- Forced “bumping” of high school teachers and may lead to lay offs at the TDSB
- Slashed $84.5 million funding for children and youth at risk including children’s aid societies
- Eliminating the Transition Child Benefit in November 2019 (i.e., for parents, including refugee claimants, on OW or ODSP who are ineligible for the Ontario Child Benefit)
- Appointed Special Advisors to conduct a review of the WSIB
- Announced the termination of the Beer Store contract, jeopardizing 7000 decent jobs
- Ended a $50 million fund to help control childcare costs for families
- Asked municipalities and school boards to find 4% in “efficiencies” (i.e., cuts) to services
- Cut funding to various ministerial programs and services (e.g., $16 million cut from the Occupational Health and Safety Program’s Prevention Office; 50% of funding cut from the Poverty Reduction Strategy)
- Produced the cut of over 300 elective courses in high schools across Toronto
- Slashed the TDSB budget further, jeopardizing French immersion, learning centres, and transportation services
- Cut the number of northern public health units from 9 to 2
- Considering privatizing the LCBO’s distribution business
- Scrapped funding for stem cell research (i.e., the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine)
- Produced the shutdown of public policy think-tanks, the Mowat Centre and the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity
- Invested $100,000 in hats for hunters
- Raised highway speed limits on three provincial highways (400-series)
- Froze funding for land ambulance services
- Eliminated funding for Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, which researches problem gambling research
- Cut $9.5 million from Tourism Toronto (25% of funding) and $3.4 million from Ottawa Tourism
- Produced the loss of 44 jobs (i.e., 15% of staff) at Ontario Telemedecine Network, a non-profit that helps Ontario patients access health care through videoconferencing
- Produced the loss of 3 million trees from Ontario tree nursery
- Slashed the Ontario Music Fund by more than half
- Caused Hands, The Family Help Network in North Bay, which provides autism services for northern Ontario families, to lay off 10 full-time employees
- Eliminated the 50 Million Tree Program
- Considering ending OHIP coverage for travel outside Canada
- Cut $1 billion over 10 years from Toronto Public Health, putting breakfast programs, daycare inspections, and emergency responses to disease outbreaks at risk (UPDATED: reversed retroactive cuts; future cuts remain)
- Slashed 50% of funding from public libraries (i.e., Ontario Library Service)
- Allow community housing providers to deny tenants who have previously been evicted for criminal activity
- Considering merging ambulance services across Ontario, shrinking the number of regional ambulance providers from 59 to 10
- Dropped their first budget, cutting spending in nearly every ministry (e.g., health care, education, legal aid, social services) and gifting corporations with $3.8 billion in tax relief [see OFL Budget Note]
- Introduced Bill 100, Protecting What Matters Most (e.g., introduced age discrimination in postsecondary institutions; made it harder to sue the government; introduced regressive CARE tax credit) [see OFL submission]
- Froze Special Services at Home funding for children with disabilities; current waitlist of 5,700 families will not be able to access funds
- Produced the loss of 52 jobs with the closure of the Child Advocate and French Language Services Commissioner offices
- Considering freezing wages for public sector workers [see OFL submission]
- Considering removing seniority-based hiring for teachers (Regulation 274) and violating collective agreements
- Considering implementing mandatory annual math testing for all teachers in Ontario, including retroactively
- Produced school boards across Ontario to issue more teacher surplus notices than usual this year (e.g., North Bay, Peel)
- Considering cutting $500 million from OHIP services, including tests and procedures ranging from diabetes and pain management to colonoscopies
- Recommended that Ontario school boards implement a hiring freeze
- Accused of interfering with the OPP (i.e., appointing a close friend and firing a veteran officer)
- Produced the shutdown of Harmony Movement, which provides diversity, equity, and inclusion education
- Produced the lay-off of nearly 10 staff at KidsAbility, an organization that provides various forms of therapy for children with autism
- Announced a 10% cut to the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, which provides free legal services to people who have experienced human rights violations at work and in their communities
- Announced changes to the education system (e.g., increasing class size averages in Grades 4 through 12 to reduce the number of teachers; pushing back gender identity and expression teaching to Grade 8)
- Appointed Ken Hughes – who will earn $1000 per day – to lead a review of alcohol sales in Ontario to give “consumer more choice and convenience”
- Considering lifting the ban that prevents major pharmacies from selling private-label generic drugs
- Considering allowing Infrastructure Ontario to further open the door to public-private partnerships with foreign investors
- Failed to act with the loss of 1500 direct jobs at the Windsor Assembly Plant
- Moved ESA-related inspections online from in-person audits conducted by Employment Standards Officers
- Closed 3 overdose prevention sites and 3 others remain under review
- Introduced the People’s Health Care Act, which privatizes health care services; dismantles government agencies such as LHINs, Cancer Care Ontario, and the Trillium Gift of Life Network; and folds patient care into a “super agency” [see OFL’s submission]
- Introduced voucher-based approach to children’s autism services (i.e., taking money away from regional agencies)
- Considering making it easier for landlords to evict tenants by slashing the waiting periods for eviction notices and allowing private bailiffs to remove renters
- Inked a deal with the City of Toronto that outlines the framework for uploading the subway to Queen’s Park
- Considering slashing the number of regional school boards, particularly in smaller communities
- Introduced the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, drastically altering how police officers are governed and treated
- Turned a $3,600 part-time EQAO position into a $140,000-a-year patronage job for a defeated PC candidate
- Forced Service Ontario to delay providing birth, marriage, and death certificates, likely due to lack of resources
- Announced a one-time $1 million budget increase for rape crisis centres for the next fiscal year (in lieu of the Liberal’s promised nearly $8 million over two years)
- Produced the lay-off of 25 full-time and 15 part-time registered nursing positions at Grand River Hospital
- Cut $15 million from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which helps fund initiatives like the Coalition for Better Child Care
- Announced removing post-secondary grants for low-income students and reversing recent OSAP changes; reduced post-secondary operating funding through unfunded tuition reductions
- Announced the Student Choice Initiative, which will allow post-secondary students to opt out of union fees outside of “essential campus health and safety initiatives”
- Appointed their principal secretary as a full-time member of the Ontario Energy Board, who will now earn $197,000
- Compelled Hydro One to pay Avista Corp USD$103 million after a failed merger plan (cited Ford’s efforts to force Hydro One CEO to retire as political interference)
- Failed to fill vacant adjudicator positions at the Human Rights Tribunal, undermining cases and discouraging vulnerable people from seeking relief and justice.
- Considering removing the cap on class sizes for kindergarten and grades 1 to 3
- “Committed” to full-day kindergarten for this Fall, leaving it uncertain thereafter
- Announced intent to re-examine how and where beer is sold throughout Ontario
- Transitioning health and safety training from in-person to online, affecting 50,000 workplaces
- Legislated OPG workers back-to-work
- Cut $25 million from school board funding, which funds tutors in classrooms and extra services for Indigenous and racialized students
- Revoked current and future funding for the College of Midwives of Ontario
- Slashed $5 million in base funding to the Ontario Arts Council and more than $2 million to the Indigenous Culture Fund (UPDATED: eliminated the Indigenous Culture Fund)
- Appointed a new Ford-friendly Pay Equity Commissioner
- Introduced Bill 66, Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act (e.g., loosened home-based child care regulations; reclassified employers to avoid hiring well-trained unionized workers for public infrastructure projects; removed important health & safety regulations to maintain clean drinking water; repealed Employment Standards Act provisions to protect vulnerable workers)[see OFL submission]
- Remained unmoved on eliminating street checks, despite the recommendations of the Independent Street Checks Review
- Failed to act with the closure of the GM plant and the loss of 5000 direct jobs
- Required all provincial agencies, as of 2019, to obtain approval of 1) their bargaining mandates and 2) ratification of collective agreements, potentially expanding this oversight to other areas of the broader public sector
- Passed Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency, and Accountability Act (e.g., delayed the Pay Transparency Act; removed independent officers of the House; cancelled a small increase in taxes for high-income earners; rolled back rent control for existing units) [see OFL submission]
- Passed a transphobic policy resolution at the PC convention, calling on the government to remove gender identity references from the sexual education curriculum
- Re-announced the creation 6,000 new long-term care beds – more than 80 per cent of which were established under the previous government
- Introduced regressive social assistance reforms (e.g., limiting access for persons with disabilities)
- Lowered the bar to hire Ford-friendly OPP Commissioner, Ron Taverner
- Introduced Bill 36, Cannabis Statute Law Amendment, allotting the sale of recreational cannabis to private retailers in lieu of the LCBO, forfeiting 10,000 public sector decent jobs [see OFL submission]
- Scrapped a scheduled three-cent-per-litre increase in the provincial beer tax
- Revoked a regulation that would have standardized training for volunteer firefighters across the province
- Paused the allocation of “parent reaching out grants,” which help fund school councils and student events
- Disbanded the expert panel to end violence against women
- Cut $307.3 million from post-secondary education, rescinding funding for three university satellite campuses
- Introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act (e.g., scrapped the $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, equal pay for equal work, access to workplace information) [see OFL submission]
- Froze proactive workplace inspections
- Withheld $14.8 million in promised funding from existing and new sexual assault centres
- Intended to invoke the notwithstanding clause and overrode the Human Rights Code to slash the number of Toronto City Council seats
- Dismantled the subcommittees under the Anti-Racism Directorate purported to combat Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Black racism
- Declared a $15 billion deficit in a guise to cut and privatize public services
- Halted opening of new safe injection, overdose prevention sites
- Introduced a ‘snitch line’ on education workers, targeting those using the updated health curriculum
- Dropped the minimum price of a bottle or can of beer by 25 cents (i.e., ‘buck-a-beer’)
- Ended the practice of releasing Ministers’ mandate letters
- Commenced a value for money audit on all government programs and services
- Announced the requirement of post-secondary institutions to introduce a free speech policy by 2019
- Legislated members of CUPE 3903 at York university back to work
- Launched a line-by-line audit of the Liberals’ spending across the broader public sector (i.e., the big kick off to Ford’s promise to find $6 billion in “efficiencies”)
- Reverted to the 1998 sex-ed curriculum until further consultation (i.e., failing to address important topics, such as same-sex relationships, social media, gender identity and expression, as well as consent)
- Halted creating mandatory curriculum for students in elementary and secondary school – on residential schools, Treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ contributions to Canada (i.e., #62 of the Truth and Reconciliation call to actions)
- Withdrew cooperation to help fund the resettlement of asylum seekers
- Forced out the Hydro One CEO and Board, paying the “$6-million-dollar man” at least $9 million upon retirement
- Cut a planned 3% increase to social assistance in half and scrapped the basic income pilot program
- Cut the Liberals’ promised $2.1 billion over four years for new mental health funding with $1.9 billion over 10 years (i.e., $190 million per year instead of $525 million)
- Slashed the size of the Toronto City Council by nearly 50% during the municipal election period
- Cancelled all of the programs that were funded by the $2.9 billion in revenues amassed through the cap-and-trade program – including school and social housing repairs as well as rebates for green energy retrofits
- Exited the cap-and-trade program and cancelled 758 green energy contracts
- Restricted access to free prescription drugs for Ontarians 24 and under, who currently do not have access to such benefits (i.e., a step backwards from universal pharma care)
- Eliminated key equity ministries, such as the Ministries Responsible for the Anti-Racism Directorate, for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, for Early Years and Child Care, for the Status of Women as well as the Ministries of Citizenship and Immigration, and of Research, Innovation, and Science
- Instituted a hiring freeze across the broader public sector with the exception of “essential frontline workers”
- Instituted a pay freeze across the broader public sector for executives, management, and employees not covered by collective bargaining
OUR FUTURE WITH A GREEN NEW DEAL
Will corporations decide our climate future? Or will it be people and communities? We can weave a Green New Deal together by winning municipal resolutions from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Will you join us?
Help win a Green New Deal by turning your community into a Green New Deal Community. Together, we can build a Green New Deal from the ground up.
You can use this Organizing Guide to raise awareness in your community and build support for a Green New Deal.This guide contains everything you need for your local city or town council or school board to pass a resolution in support of a Green New Deal.
We are living in a global climate crisis. Scientists have given us just 11 years to cut our emissions in half in order to avoid catastrophic impacts and the crisis moving beyond our control. To do that, we must see “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
THE PACT FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL
The Council of Canadians is part of the Pact for a Green New Deal, a growing movement of people across Canada who understand that governments are not doing enough to solve the climate crisis – and we hope you will be a part of it.
The Pact for a Green New Deal calls for rapid, inclusive and far-reaching just transition led by the federal government, to slash emissions, meet the demands of the multiple crises we face, respect the rights of Indigenous peoples, and create over 1 million jobs in the process. It is a proposal that is gaining in popularity among people and groups from all walks of life, especially young people who know their futures are at stake.
It means making all our communities healthier. It means reconnecting and feeling safe again. It means all of society heeding the call from young people, and coming together to avert disaster, planning not just how to sustain this generation, but the seven that come after it. A Green New Deal in Canada must lift us all, together.
Inspired by Québec’s Le Pacte pour une transition and the Green New Deal campaign Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is championing in the U.S., the Council of Canadians has joined with progressive groups, organizations and people from coast-to-coast-to-coast in calling for a Green New Deal in Canada to meet the demands of justice and the climate crisis.
A Green New Deal rests on two fundamental principles:
- It must be based on Indigenous knowledge and science and cut Canada’s emissions in half in 11 years.
- It must leave no one behind and create a better present and future for all of us.
- It must leave no one behind and create a better present and future for all of us.
Coalition wants Canadian CO2 emissions cut in half by 2030
From left, Tina Portman, Jesse Hiemstra and Debbie Wellwood participated in a green new deal townhall in Smithers June 6. (Trevor Hewitt photo)
Bulkley Valley residents had the opportunity to weigh in on elements that will constitute a “green new deal” for Canada at a townhall meeting in Smithers on June 6.
The event was put on by the Coalition for a Green New Deal (C4GND), which has been holding these meetings across the country.
“What these meetings are about is getting Canadians together to talk about what they would like to see in a green new deal for Canada,” said Tina Portman, environmental advocate and host of the meeting. “A green new deal for Canada is a large-scale national push to address what we need to do to meet our climate target.”
“People from all walks of life can be part of the solution if they want to be,” said Debbie Wellwood, a wildlife ecologist who attended the event. “We all have something to offer and we should also be ready to lend people a hand that need a hand. That’s an important part of the green new deal, that people don’t get left behind.”
“People have debates about whether its top-down problem solving or bottom-up problem-solving,” said Wellwood. ” I think that it has to come from all levels, going back to the individual, and the community, and the family. Everybody at all levels, because it is so urgent, needs to be thinking about this and working on it.”
Inspired by Le Pacte in Quebec, the core demand of this grassroots movement are that policies be implemented that would reduce Canadian carbon emissions by half within the next 11 years; that economic stimulus be provided for safe and renewable energy, green jobs and infrastructure; and that the autonomy and sovereignty of First Nations is respected by working alongside Indigenous communities with free, prior, informed consent.
Portman says that the danger of climate change has been ignored for too long.
“From the Rio climate convention, through the Kyoto Protocol and the Copenhagen Accord, Canada has a history of falling short of carbon-reduction goals, she said. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has presented us with a new goal: To reduce our CO2 emissions to the level of 308 megatonnes by the year 2030 (a 50 per cent reduction of 2017’s CO2 emission level).”
Portman and the others involved see this as a narrow window of opportunity to act before “runaway climate change.” MORE
Photograph Source: NASA Earth Observatory – Public Domain
As we know, big lies can run free across borders with few joining the dots.
For example, no media reports that China’s growing dispute with Canada is based on Canada’s enforcement of the Trump administration’s unilateral and illegal embargo against oil-competitor Iran. A cynical reply is that this is predictable. Canada attacks any designated US Enemy in junior partnership with global corporate command.
But this time there is a new twist. Canada is attacking itself without knowing it.
A US Big-Oil backed juggernaut of Conservative provincial governments and the federal Opposition are well advanced in a Canada campaign to reverse longstanding parliamentary decisions, environmental laws, climate action initiatives, Supreme Court directions, first-nations negotiations, and bring down the government of Canada. Yet no-one in public or media circles has joined the dots.
Canada’s vast tar-sands deposits are world famous as surpassing Saudi Arabia oil-field capacities in total barrels of potential yield. Great Canada! Yet few notice that over two-thirds of the entire tar-sands operations are owned by foreign entities sending their profits out of Canada, and almost all its raw product is controlled for refining and sale in the US.
What is especially kept out of the daily news is the incendiary fact that the infamous, election-interfering and oft-EPA-convicted Koch brothers have a dominant stake in the toxic crude of the Alberta tar-sands seeking a massive BC-pipeline out to their US refineries.
Koch-owned industries have already extracted countless billions of their near $100-billion fortune from the tar-sands and deployed their well-known voter-manipulations to change the balance of power in Canada as they have done in the US.
The objective is the same in both cases – ever more tax-free, publicly subsidized and state-enforced control by US Big Oil of Alberta’s massive oil resources with no government regulations or interferences in the way. MORE
The ruling says Churchill Falls Corp. Ltd. has the right to sell energy produced over a certain threshold.
The town of Churchill Falls, N.L., is seen from the air in November 2009. (Kevin Bissett/The Canadian Press)
Newfoundland and Labrador has achieved a rare win in its longstanding battle with Hydro-Québec over a 50-year-old agreement on sales of Churchill Falls power that has long been a source of contention for the province.
The Quebec Court of Appeal says in a ruling that Churchill Falls Corp. Ltd. — a subsidiary of Newfoundland’s Crown corporation overseeing hydroelectricity — has the right to sell energy produced above a certain threshold. Hydro-Québec retains the right to sell Churchill Falls energy up to a monthly cap.
That’s good news for Newfoundland and Labrador because it ensures that Churchill Falls Corp. can manage water on the Upper Churchill to avoid negatively affecting the Muskrat Falls facility’s ability to generate power, said Premier Dwight Ball.
The province will be able to set a threshold for the size of reservoirs and ensure adequate flow from the Upper Churchill to the Lower Churchill, he said.
“At least now from a water management point of view, we will not have to worry about that again,” said Ball.
The decision is the latest round in a battle that reached the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled last year that Hydro-Québec had no obligation to modify its 1969 deal, which has provided much more financial benefit to Quebec than to Newfoundland and Labrador. MORE
Declarations and pledges are all well and good, but when it comes to protecting rights and safety, action is what counts. And where the rights and safety of Canada’s indigenous populations are concerned, so far, the government and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP, often known as “Mounties”) have shown a preference for protecting pipelines over people.
Earlier this month, NPQ reported that Canada’s two-year National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) released a report, representing many hours of work and hundreds of pages of data and recommendations. The report confirmed for Canada’s settler government what indigenous peoples already knew: that the violence against indigenous (or First Nations) women and girls, and the failure of government and police to prevent or investigate these crimes, was tantamount to genocide.
Among the report’s 231 Calls for Justice were five demands related to the extractive and development industries, pursuant to the report’s recognition that “resource extraction projects can exacerbate the problem of violence against Indigenous women and girls.”
At the same time, the dispute over the fracked gas pipeline planned through Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia proceeds as though this context—the tradition of colonial violence against First Nations people—were not relevant. NPQ has covered this dispute since January, when RCMP invaded unceded lands to enforce an injunction against the checkpoint constructed by the Unist’ot’en clan to protect their land. The Wet’suwet’en challenged the injunction in court, and this week, judges will announce their decision.
It has not been lost on First Nations that the government seems to spend more resources on protecting the pipeline than protecting their people. Dylan Mazur, a community lawyer with the BC Civil Liberties Association, says northern BC communities often complain they are “over-policed and under-protected.”
First Nations member Jacquie Bowes and hereditary chief Na’Moks both remember investigations of MMIWG that lasted months with little visible action, while within days of a threat to the pipeline, trucks full of police streamed into their communities. A “Community-Industry Safety Office” has been established on Wet’suwet’en land and is consistently staffed by over a dozen officers, says Na’Moks, whose English name is John Ridsdale.
“They’ve put more money into watching us, labelling us and monitoring us than into searching for local murdered and missing women,” he said. “They’re out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they’re not helping our people.” Almost half of missing persons cases in northern British Columbia have not been investigated properly.
The tribe’s court case against the injunction is pending this week, and land defenders at the Unist’ot’en camp have issued calls for support. Their head lawyer Michael Lee Ross issued a nine-part argument for the BC Supreme Court to uphold indigenous law on unceded lands. His points acknowledge important contextual information about indigenous disputes, including:
- “The existing interim injunction should be dissolved because it already has caused irreparable harm by…interfering in hereditary governance by funding and consulting with divisive groups.”
- “Indigenous legal orders have jurisdiction on Indigenous lands, Aboriginal Rights and Title have not been ceded or surrendered on Wet’suwet’en Yintah and it is the responsibility of a just and equitable court to reconcile Wet’suwet’en law with the common law and accept some of the burden for this reconciliation. For most of Canada’s legal history Indigenous people have been forced to translate and shape their legal rights in a court system that has repeatedly dispossessed them of those same rights. The burden of reconciliation now falls upon the court, to recognize and affirm Indigenous laws that predate Canada and to reconcile these with non-Indigenous legal perspectives.” MORE