By RIMA BERNS-MCGOWN,
MPP BEACHES-EAST YORK
Happy New Year, neighbours!
It’s been quite the first six months for the Doug Ford government. You have let me know how unhappy you are with the flood of laws and changes from Queen’s Park that have dragged us backward as a province: on climate change and the environment; on sex education; on French language rights; on reconciliation and the elimination of institutional racism; on protections for children, workers and water; on poverty and homelessness. The list goes on.
You watched as the Premier upended Toronto’s civic election in the middle of the process and threatened to use the Notwithstanding Clause when the courts ruled in favour of democracy; posed with an openly racist mayoral candidate and refused to denounce homophobia and transphobia; appointed his allies to plush, high-paid positions; and most egregiously, tried to appoint his long-time friend Ron Taverner head of the Ontario Provincial Police, thereby compromising the integrity of the legislature, government, and the police in the process.
You have stopped me on the street to tell me how concerned you are about the increases to Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) being slashed in half; how appalled you are by the lack of a viable strategy to combat climate change and protect our green spaces, the need for mental health supports or the ongoing crisis in affordable housing; and how sickened you are by the elimination of the child advocate’s office.
That being said, I honestly believe that there is an upside to all the terribleness that has happened over the past six months – and it’s that we will recognize, collectively, that half-measures won’t work any longer and that progressive words unaccompanied by decisive action mean nothing.
That’s why my Ontario NDP colleagues and I have been working towards a public inquiry into Ford’s meddling in the OPP; we moved a motion to restore Ontario’s French Language Services Commissioner and francophone university; and we’re fighting to put the spotlight back on health care, education and the services you count on.
We need to create a society that works for everyone in Ontario and in Canada. Creating an equitable Ontario builds a home and a community that all residents can be proud of, and one which gives everyone the opportunity to succeed.
If you’ve never spoken out publicly before, now is your time. You don’t have to be a politician to speak to your friends, neighbours, and the folks you know from school or your faith community. Speak out and speak up. You know what it means to create a world that works for your family, and for everyone around you, so let your voice be heard. We deserve better, and I know we can make it happen if we work together.
My community office is always open, and I hope to see you there. I wish you all a wonderful, safe, and happy 2019. It is a privilege to be on the frontlines with you.