In a neighbourhood of 1 & 2 storey homes, a developer wants to install a large-foot print 7 story block
Image: GoogleStreetView of existing building at 65 Ward Street that has not been used for several years
Opinion by Dave Glover
Thinking about the Ford Government this week, in light of the latest report from the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) and the recent imposition of a Minister’s Zoning Order (MZO) for the re-development of the seniors residence at 65 Ward Street in Port Hope.
The Ford/Piccini government has once again opted to override the democratic voices in yet another Ontario municipality.
Port Hope resident, Patricia Spindel, Chair of the Seniors for Social Action Ontario, addressed the government’s lack of concern succinctly: “It is time the Ontario government, did actually act for the people — not the big corporations seeking to exploit elders for profit.”
I realize this is a very thorny issue in Port Hope, as is the issue of MZOs in other municipalities, but are all minister’s zoning orders the same?
The big question is how much will the present proposal alter the dynamics of the neighbourhood and the community surrounding it? Will the Ward Street proposal fit into the existing streetscape of Ward Street or stand out like a visual sore thumb, one that overburdens the existing neighbourhood roads and proportional harmony.
There is a real problem across the province: there aren’t enough beds or spaces available currently for seniors.
We need to be able to house our elders in a setting that is conducive to positive life outcomes.
Of concern for Port Hope residents, is the company proposing this project has a spotty track record of providing adequate care. Opponents of the project point to its record, specifically with larger facilities, as one reason why the proposed seven-story build should not be approved.
At this point, the province has chosen to ignore community concerns in favour of the developer. Another example of the Ford/Piccini government favouring their donors over the voters.
Local MPP Piccini has been invisible or silent when it comes to acknowledging local concerns. As the Environment Minister, one would think he would have some input about the proposed expansion and its shortcomings.
The full letter from Ms. Spindel speaks to the needs for Ontario Seniors, calling for greater government funding and support of home care and other community supports.
Once again, the Ford/Piccini government appears to have privatized their obligation to Ontarians.
The government has also made holding Long Term Care Home operators more accountable more difficult, meaning less accountability to community scrutiny.
The FAO report this past week illustrated interesting facts that could solve the problem of funding building for facilities for seniors. It reported the provincial government is sitting on $22 billion. That’s up from the $12 billion it was sitting on this time last year.
Money that could be used to build long-term care facilities in Ontario and or expand existing home care.
Money that could but used for healthcare rather than relying on further privatization or used to fund public education.
Despite sitting on such a large surplus, the government is handing off elder care to private for-profit providers.
Whether it’s public education, caring for seniors, housing, homecare, aftercare or simply publicly funded healthcare, this government doesn’t appear to care.
The Ford/Piccini government doesn’t feel a need to be open and transparent either.
If local people or a municipal government doesn’t like what it is doing, it simply steamrollers on.
Why haven’t the ministers in charge tried to get the public to buy into their plans instead of employing MZOs?
Why haven’t they, instead of negotiating secret deals, been more transparent?
The obvious answer is that the deals and plans of the Ford/Piccini government aren’t in the best interest of the majority of Ontarians.
If they were, the government would happily share the good news, but these policies are only going to benefit the few at the expense of the many.
Closing the Science Centre to anchor a private development at the once revered Ontario Place site isn’t just bad public policy, its bad economics and another example of the government going against the community’s best interest.
A move criticized as an excuse for the province to pay for more parking for the 99-year Therme Private Waterpark and Spa Lease. Apparently, part of the deal that Ontario fund adequate parking.
The move will do untold damage to the already struggling local economy of Thorncliff Park, taking away jobs and the direct economic benefit for the community at large.
Likely the Ontario Science Centre will become a shadow of its former self, its land will be sold off to developers and Ontario will be saddled with a theme park that could go the way of shopping malls in short order.
The opposition NDP, led by Marit Stiles, has tried to hold the Premier and his caucus accountable but they don’t have the numbers. When I used the term steamroller earlier, I meant it. The super majority the Conservative government holds means this Premier can ram thru anything he wants. We can’t do anything about it.
Recently the Ontario health coalition held a province-wide referendum on publicly funded Healthcare.
About 13% of Ontarians took part, the overwhelming majority voting to preserve and protect our public healthcare system. Ford dismissed it as an opposition stunt.
Obviously, to effectively change the direction of our province, we need to embarrass the government.
We, the people affected by their policies, need to point out all of the shortcomings and missteps.
Just as we’re seeing in Ottawa with the federal opposition.
Part of the problem is the so-called legacy media appears willing to give the Ford/Piccini Government a pass.
Many Ontarians wonder why they’re not asking the tough questions.
Why has the Therme Ontario Place deal not been made public?
Why and how did they determine moving the Ontario Science Center to the Ontario Place site was a good idea?
How is approving the Ward Street expansion in anybody’s best interest beyond that of the developer?
Why isn’t this government willing to sell its plans to the very people they work for‑ the people of Ontario?
The Ford/Piccini government has issued more MZOs during its 5 years in power than all previous Ontario Governments combined!
Remember, one year ago while campaigning, they made none of this public.
Nothing they’ve brought forward in the last 12 months was hinted at or discussed publicly.
They never campaigned on privatization.
The Ford/Piccini government is sitting on 22 Billion dollars and yet they’re closing emergency rooms. Closing small community hospitals in favour of private for-profit providers. Moving what Mr. Ford called easy surgeries out of smaller hospitals to private facilities effectively killing those hospitals.
Hospitals like Campbellford in Northumberland.
How can they justify starving public services and facilities while sitting on our money like it’s their own personal piggy bank?
Why isn’t the Ford/Piccini government being held to account?
Because only people can hold them to account.
You and I can no longer be complacent. We need to contact our MPP and write the Premier.
We need to do everything in our power to make ourselves heard.
Maybe, even hold a general strike to prove we’re not messing about. I’m not calling for anarchy, readers, but I am calling for the government of Ontario to put the money back where it belongs and stop trying to pull a
bait-and-switch on our well-being.
Back in the 70s, the governments of Canada and Ontario agreed to abide by the social determinants of health
in order to build a more resilient and overall healthy population. Somewhere over the last 50 years they have been lost.
We need to demand a return to that standard.
We need to demand our government listen to us.
Remember, the present Ford/Piccini government was chosen by only 18% of Ontarians in the last election, that’s hardly a majority.
For information and contact:
Dave Glover is a well known cultural and political commentator in Northumberland. Thousands of listeners, both locally and worldwide, know Dave because of his “Drive Time” radio broadcast that ran for more than 8 years and his 15 years hosting political programs on a local cable channel.
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