Michael Mantha’s News from the Park 210910

Pretty much anyone can be a leader in calm waters.  But being at the helm when strong winds blow and seas become rough….well, it takes real skill, knowledge and confidence to navigate a ship safely to its destination port.  Author and leadership coach John Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.”  They need to be visible and heard so they can rally and inspire people to work toward a common purpose.

The late US President Harry S. Truman also wisely pointed out that, “Men make history and not the other way around.  In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still.  Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but as we are clearly in the midst of the fourth wave, I get the feeling we have all seen this movie before.  Don’t get me wrong; I do get the fact that life happens.  But as we march daily ever closer to two years of having our lives controlled by a virus, it seems that whatever pathway our government is following, it is not getting us out of this deadly mire.  The people of Ontario are seeing matters deteriorate by the week in other provinces and within Ontario. They are looking for strong, confident leadership to navigate us through this peril safely.

Ontarians have heard the alarm from the Science Table which declares that we are witnessing the onset of the fourth wave of COVID-19.  Time is of the essence, and Ontario needs its government to take immediate action.  And what is Premier Ford’s response?  He decides that the best thing for him to do is to prorogue the Legislature for three weeks.  The Premier’s decision is to bury his head in the sand like an ostrich while the deadly variant virus is taking down more and more people.

This is an unprecedented abdication by Ford of his leadership responsibilities during a crisis.  A good leader makes themselves visible, accountable and instills confidence in staff and those they lead.  It’s bad enough that Doug Ford himself has gone into hiding for over a month, but now he has chosen to hide his entire government.

It is important to keep in mind that when a government prorogues, it kills all of the bills and business left unfinished when the members last sat.  When the Legislature recessed in early June, it left a long list lot of important bills and business on the shelf including:

  • Broadband is an Essential Service Act
  • Improvement to Healthcare Act
  • Northern Health Travel Grant Advisory Committee Act
  • Single-Use Plastic Ban Act
  • United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act
  • Climate Crisis Healthcare Action Plan Act

Whether you are a parent, student or educator who is worried about a safe September, a small business or worker hanging on during a precarious recovery, or a health care worker on the frontlines of the fight against the fourth wave, Doug Ford has chosen once again to leave everyday Ontarians on their own.  Case in point, his reluctance to bring in vaccine passports, wanting to dump all responsibility on small business owners.

Summer has unofficially come to an end with our children and youth starting back to school this week.  The Premier has known for many months that COVID-19 is not just going to just blow away.  He has known for over a year that the central ventilation systems in our schools are not up to the job of keeping our students and education staff safe. Yet, he has taken virtually no steps toward doing the right thing and installing proper, effective filtration systems.  Instead, he is putting portable air filters with no scientific proof of their effectiveness in our children’s classrooms.

Ontario families are looking today for hope that the disruptions in education are over.  They’re worn out from the anxiety and stress of worrying that schools won’t be safe enough and that kids won’t get the stability of uninterrupted in-class learning or extra support from caring adults.  They are worried about their children’s mental health too.

We should never have had the first day of school come upon us without a robust Safe September plan.  That decision to delay falls entirely upon Doug Ford.  He made the big cuts and bad choices that got us to where we are today.  He chose to cut $800 million from education this year.  He also chose not to make class sizes smaller.  And Mr. Ford chose to take his government into hiding in the middle of the fourth wave by proroguing the Legislature.

In addition to making cuts to education and failing to upgrade school ventilation systems, Doug Ford is also sitting on his hands rather than making preparations to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to students under 12 as soon as Health Canada gives it the necessary approval.  Why don’t we prepare so we are ready when approval is given?  NDP leader Andrea Horwath recently said, “As soon as Health Canada gives us the green light, we can get every eligible child their first dose within just a few days — if we’re ready to go.  Doug Ford needs to invest now in a rock-solid plan to reach out to every family proactively in advance and be ready to deploy a vaccine clinic to every single school, immediately.”

The Ontario NDP has been calling for a Safe September plan for school reopening that includes capped class sizes, more mental health, educational assistants and counselling supports for students; a minimum and enforced standard for ventilation; and paid sick days and family care days for everyone — all necessary to lower the risk of outbreaks and more disruption.

As former President Truman said, “In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still.  Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.”

Ontario’s Premier has been in hiding for over a month, playing politics, pinching pennies and making the same bad choices over and over again.  And now he’s not just hiding himself; he’s hiding the whole government when the people of this province need leadership the most. So, I can’t help but ask, is Ford a leader who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way?  Ontarians are concerned and uncertain – but, unlike Doug Ford, they don’t get to hide from life’s realities and responsibilities.

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues or any other provincial matters.  You can reach my constituency office by email at mmantha-co@ndp.on.ca or phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll-free at 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député

Algoma-Manitoulin

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