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Ford Nation, Education, And Booze: Redefining What "For The People" Means

Updated on April 12, 2019
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, and LGBT advocacy.

Many Are Sticking Their Tongue Out At The Budget Right Now

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Is Education And Health Care Really What Matters Most To The Ontario Government?

The Ontario provincial government tabled its first budget on April 11, 2019, and it's clear that what matters most to the supposedly-Progressive Conservative party is alcohol, gambling, license plates, and pot.

Finance minister Vic Fedeli obviously disagrees, according to CBC.

"[We are] restoring fiscal balance, making Ontario open for business [and] open for jobs, while we're protecting what matters most: our health care, education and other critical public services," Fedeli noted while tabling the budget yesterday.

However, the Ford government is moving to introduce legislation that would allow the legal consumption of alcohol to 9 am and is planning to loosen the regulations involving the consumption of alcohol in public places. While there is a longstanding joke that "it's five o'clock somewhere," even 9 in the morning might be a bit much, and for those who already struggle with controlling their alcohol consumption, this could be bad news, particularly as it pertains to drinking in public places.

Tailgating permits for "eligible" events - there doesn't appear to be a clear explanation as to what those events might be - are also on the table. There is no word yet on how that will affect the current laws governing public intoxication, which is an offense under the Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Act and carries with it a $65 fine and detention until sober. The current regulations governing drinking in public will also likely undergo some change, as under the current law, it's illegal to even have an open container of alcohol in public. That particular charge carries with it a fine of $125, according to Wikipedia.

"We know we can trust families to make the right decisions," Fedeli said.

That may be, but if there is an alcoholic in said family, the "right" decision might not necessarily be the best decision. According to Ledgehill Treatment and Recovery Centre, approximately 4 percent of the population in Canada that's over the age of 15 is dependent on alcohol, which translates to over 24 million individuals or nearly 69 percent of the population, according to Statistics Canada. Can anyone see potential problems erupting as a result of the Ford government's decision to allow drinking in parks, or licensed establishments being allowed to sell alcohol starting at 9 am?

Meanwhile, there's an appropriateness working group exploring what cuts can or should be made to OHIP - our provincial health coverage - and teachers at both the elementary and secondary levels are either being laid off in droves or are looking at potential class sizes that have been conservatively estimated at 35 or larger. Education minister Lisa Thompson continues to maintain that no teacher shall voluntarily lose their job, yet there is nowhere near the attrition that she said would be the root of the teacher cutbacks.

There will doubtless be cuts to special education, to the arts, to sports, and to trades-related courses in order to sustain the Ford government's "vision," and given the numbers of students who are already concerned about having to take four mandatory e-learning courses starting in 2020, educators will have a real challenge on their hands trying to continue to ensure students are successful. For starters, larger class sizes mean that students have to work harder to get the extra help they need, and that could mean having to navigate the discipline issues that will no doubt erupt as a result of greater classroom numbers. There's also the simple fact that e-learning is not for everyone, adults included. In addition, there are issues with technology inherent with e-learning, and that includes lack of access, slow operating systems and slow, if not entirely non-existent, internet in some areas of the province.

Does this sound like the Ford government is working to "protect what matters most?"

Individuals with chronic pain, diabetes, and those in need of colonoscopies are among those significantly concerned by the changes the Ford government has already stated they're working on. Educators, support workers, those that work with people with autism are only among the few that have lost their jobs as a result of the machinations of the Ford government, in spite of the claims that they are "for the people."

I'm sure I'm not alone in wondering which people, exactly, that Ford Nation is "for."


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