Michael Mantha’s News from the Park for 211015

It is true that many people do not like to be labelled or categorized by any means.   But let’s be honest, all of us innocently do it to some degree.

The recent constituency clinics that I hosted in various communities in the riding, were extremely well attended, thus confirming how important it is for people to have access to their elected officials.  In meeting with constituents, I frequently heard individuals describing others in very favourable terms.  Terms used included educated, well-read, intelligent, knowledgeable and experienced.  We often interpret such adjectives as being the same or very similar in nature during a conversation.  But, in truth, there are distinct differences between each of them. 

For example, the difference between intelligence and education is that education is taught/learned and is developed over time through study. It may even have specified achievement levels that can be awarded by institutions.  On the other hand, intelligence is something that is more naturally derived and is found internally.  Intelligence is not actually developed or learned.  It is the ability to observe and process information and situations and apply what we have stored or linked in our brains.

Experience, in some ways, is related to education. Whereas the source of education is printed materials and lessons, experience is the knowledge gained through involvement or exposure to a myriad of circumstances and events. As to which is more important, well, that debate has been going on for centuries.  In the end, however, the optimum situation is to have an educated individual who takes advantage of opportunities for experience in conjunction with lifetime learning.  Nothing beats a person who is intelligent and educated who is able to link all three.  Such people are invaluable to our workplace and to society in general.

I raise these differences or contrasts in these terms because Doug Ford now finds himself just months away from the next provincial election.  Come spring, he will have completed four years as the leader of Ontario’s government.

Since the Conservatives were first elected, Ontarians have witnessed the growing pains as Ford, and his cabinet gained experience in governing. But, of course, no one starts out knowing it all.   Any doctor, lawyer, chef, mechanic, or other professional grow as they gain experience – or at least they should.  They hopefully learn not to repeat the same errors time and time again.

But it seems pretty clear that such is the case for Premier Ford.  How many times have Ontarians watched the Premier stubbornly delay and dally, making decisions or putting off planning until a crisis crashes down upon us?  Regular readers of News from the Park will recall that I quoted author and humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw two weeks ago. The greatest thief this world has ever produced is procrastination, and he is still at large.’ Unfortunately, I fear such a thief is here among us in Ontario.”  I listed multiple examples of Ford’s tendency to procrastinate.  The list included years of putting off negotiating fees for OHIP paid eyecare with optometrists, supporting struggling tourism small businesses, funding dental care for low-income seniors, setting up a Northern Health Travel Grant advisory committee and instituting the vaccine passport system that Ontarians overwhelmingly support. 

Days ago, Andrea Horwath pointed out that, “Parents are sending their unvaccinated little ones off to school each morning afraid they’ll catch the virus.  Families, kids, teachers, and education workers are worried their lives will once again be upended by disruptive school closures.”

Weeks ago, the NDP urged the government to prepare a rollout plan for vaccinating our youth aged 12 and up in schools. This would have made the process streamlined and convenient for Ontario families.  No need to make appointments or take time off work to get the children vaccinated.  But Doug Ford delayed without reason. 

Recently it was announced that Health Canada’s announcement that the approval of vaccination for children aged 5-11 years of age is imminent. We see provinces like British Columbia taking a proactive approach to this issue, opening pre-registration for kids ages 5 to 11 to get vaccinated.  But not Doug Ford.  His dallying is once again going to leave schools and families hanging. So what possible reason can he offer for not preparing now rather than a mad scramble at the last moment?

New Democrats say that the Ford Conservatives have consistently demonstrated a willful, stubborn wait-for-crisis approach throughout this pandemic. So we say, this time, let’s get out ahead and be ready. But, first, once again, Ford needs to develop a rollout plan to vaccinate the 5 to 11-year-old age group – now. In this way, the moment Health Canada approves the vaccine for these children, public health agencies have in-school vaccine clinics ready to launch and vaccinate all eligible kids within a matter of days.

A similar situation faces both tenants and landlords seeking a resolution to complaints through the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB).  In an average year, the LTB processes upwards of 80,000 cases.  A backlog of hearings existed before the onset of the pandemic.  Then when the pandemic did hit, the decision was made to switch to an entirely online format.  Unfortunately, the plan lacked forethought and development before being implemented.  This led to a veritable explosion of complaints from landlords and tenants.  MPP offices are inundated with complaints about the new format. The system is complicated to understand and navigate, especially for those lacking online technical experience.  It is causing delays of months on end, thus denying access to justice for both parties. The NDP has been urging the government to take immediate and decisive action to remediate the backlog.  Unfortunately, Ford has chosen to ignore such calls no matter how long tenants and landlords suffering drags on. 

It is a simple fact that when someone takes on a new role and new responsibility, there is going to be a learning curve that develops through experience. But look where Ontario stands today.  We have a premier who it seems has not benefitted from nearly four years of experience leading our province. How many times has Ford made decisions or promises only to backtrack when people stand up to him?  He is the only Ontario premier in history to threaten to use the constitutional ‘notwithstanding clause’ if things don’t go his way.  Either he is repeating the same mistakes over and over again because he is not learning from his experiences, or worse, he is showing that he just doesn’t really care about the average Ontario family or small business.

Ontarians deserve so much better than this.

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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