Tag Archives: Doug Ford

New report sounds alarm that taxpayers’ money is being diverted from public hospitals to private health care in Ontario

MP Holmes
Kitchener, ON

Public hospitals in Ontario have been starved of billions of dollars under the Ford government while private health clinics have received a bonanza of taxpayers’ funds, according to a new report by the Ontario Health Coalition.

“Robbing the Public to Build Private: the Ford Government’s Hospital Privatization Scheme” was released by the Waterloo Region Health Coalition, in part with the larger Ontario Health Coalition, at the Waterloo Public Library on February 21.

According to the OHC report, over the last few years, private clinics in Ontario received a 212% increase in funding in one year, rising from approximately $38 million in 2022-23 to over $120 million in 2023-24. At the same time, public hospitals received an increase of 0.5 % to their operating budgets.

In Kitchener alone, this underfunding has manifested in 140 vacant RN positions due to lack of funding.

 

CKMS News -2023-09-29- Discussing the unfolding greenbelt scandal with Kevin Thomason

CKMS News – 2023-09-29 – Greenbelt updates, no compensation for developers.

By: dan kellar

Kitchener, ON –  As the Greenbelt situation continues to evolve, CKMS news again spoke with Kevin Thomason of the Grand River Environmental Network, and a local campaigner on a handful of campaigns to protect the Grand River watershed and the Waterloo moraine. For quite a while now Kevin has been organizing against Ontario’s conservative government’s plans to develop the ecologically important lands of the protected Greenbelt.  

First, however, some recent background. As our last interview with Kevin was set to air on September 21st, Doug Ford announced he would be reversing the Greenbelt land deals saying “I am very, very sorry… it was a mistake to open the Greenbelt.” He added his actions were “with the best of intentions”, and that he “prides himself on keeping his promises”. With the 2018 promises to never develop the Green Belt, in mind,  Ford once again promised to “won’t make any changes to the green belt in the future”. 

After Ford admitted his governments’ mistakes, the conservative premiere suggested that developers may need to be compensated. However, on September 27th, and right after this interview with Kevin Thomason was completed, new minister of municipal affairs and housing minister Paul Calandra announced that developers will not be compensated for the reversal of the Ford governments Greenbelt decision.   Thomason had said that developers do not have a special “right to develop”, and that land speculation and profit making are not protected acts. For now, it would seem, the Ford government agrees with Thomason. 

Immediately after Calandra was named minister on September 4th, he announced that the greenbelt development plans were going ahead, and that any reviews may lead to more greenbelt land being taken for housing developments. On September 25th, the NDP tabled the “Green Belt Protection Act” which the conservatives voted down at first reading. Calandra said the conservatives will table better legislation that will  “codify” Greenbelt boundaries. All these major turnabouts in policy and the handful of resignations in the past months in the conservative government only reinforce what NPD leader Marit Stiles told Allison Jones of the Canadian Press “I don’t trust this government at all to fix a mess of their own making”. 

In this interview Kevin Thomason maintains his position that despite the conservative’s recent reversal on the development of the greenbelt, the Ford government is “corrupt”. Arguing that the Greenbelt was not the only area where Ford is attempting to take develop ecologically important lands under the guise of the housing crisis, and “given it to developers”, noting that “the RCMP do not investigate favouritism, they investigate crime”.  

Kevin also spoke of the ongoing resistance to Doug Ford’s plans, including highway 413 construction, highway 7 expansion, forcing housing sprawl over other ecologically important lands with ministerial zoning orders, and other patterns of behaviour from the Ford government which “are not serving the best interest of Ontarians”. 

These problematic patterns are an issue Phil Pothen, the Ontario Environment Program Manager of the environmental advocacy organisation Environmental Defense, has also discussed. As Phil said in a September 21st press release:
“While we welcome Premier Ford’s full reversal of the inappropriate removals of Greenbelt lands, the Ontario government’s $8.3 billion gift to developers represented just the most visible part of a dishonest and counterproductive push for sprawl that will only worsen Ontario’s housing shortage. To clean up what remains of the Ontario government’s land use and environmental mess, including Highway 413, it is essential to strengthen Greenbelt protections to ensure future government’s can’t try this again.”

Pothen continued:
“We hope this change marks the beginning of a broader shift away from the government’s current misguided policies, including: forced boundary expansions in Hamilton and Halton, Waterloo and elsewhere; its lowering of Growth Plan density requirements; its gutting of Conservation Authorities; and its dismantling of regional land use planning. These damaging decisions, along with attempts to repeal laws which promote efficient land use and construction, must also be reversed.” 

In a statement to CKMS News on September 13th, days before Ford’s Greenbelt reversal announcement, Kitchener-Conestoga PC MPP Mike Harris Jr. said that he supported Ford’s direction, writing that the conservative government will continue with their plan to build homes on “non-sensitive” Green Belt lands claiming this was “requested by many municipalities”.  Harris concluded: “I want to emphasize that, under the continued leadership of our Premier, our Government will prioritize addressing the housing crisis.”

Following Ford’s greenbelt reversal announcement on the 21st, MPP Harris, responded to CKMS News with a statement regarding the quick policy changes from his government, saying:
“After extensive consultations with cabinet, caucus and upon reviewing the public’s response, the Premier decided that the Greenbelt would be preserved.”

Harris added that the government will maintain the protection on the lands they had added to the Greenbelt to compensate for the lands they removed and that “As the process of reversing the decision is complex, more information will be released as it becomes available.” 

CKMS News has asked MPP Harris about the corruption allegations and the criminal investigation but did not receive a response by the time of publication.  CKMS will continue to provide updates to this ongoing story.

 

CKMS News – Greenbelt accountability, “Ford Fest”, and byelection update: Interviews with Debbie Chapman and Aislinn Clancy

CKMS News – 2023-08-17 – Greenbelt accountability, “Ford Fest”, and byelection campaigning: Interviews with Debbie Chapman and Aislinn Clancy

By: dan kellar

Since Mid-January of 2023, following the resignation of NDP MPP  Laura Mae Lindo, the riding of Kitchener Centre has been without representation in the Ontario legislature. While not disrupting the balance of power in government, the conservatives deemed the by-election will occur in January 2024, the maximum time allowed by the Elections Act for the seat to remain empty.

Currently, there is no candidate for the Conservative Party in the byelection, while the NDP are running Debbie Chapman, and the Liberal Party is represented by Kelly Steiss. On September 8th, in the adjacent Waterloo riding, which is held by the NDP’s Catherine Fife, Doug Ford held the political outreach and fundraising event “Ford Fest” at Bingemans. 

Bingemans also borders the Kitchener Conestoga riding which is held by PC MPP Mike Harris Jr., who welcomed Ford Fest into the Region, telling CKMS News in a statement:

Ford Fest is a free, non-partisan community event hosted by Ontario’s Ford family.”, and, Harris added “Ford Fest offers a unique opportunity for attendees to connect with their elected representatives.”

In a piece released by CKMS News on September 8th, Waterloo Regional Labour Council president Jeff Pelich spoke about why folks were heading to protest at Ford Fest. You can listen to that whole interview at radiowaterloo.ca/news

Today’s show will feature interviews with Clancy and Chapman about Ford Fest and the conservative government, the upcoming by-election and what issues their campaigns are focusing on, and the growing calls for accountability around the Green Belt scandal.  Both the NDP and Green Party candidates said the lands removed from Greenbelt protection should be immediately returned to their protected status. The liberals have also called for the Green Belt lands to be returned and for accountability for the actions of the conservatives..

Since the interviews, the conservatives have announced the sites will be “re-evaluated”. 

In response to calls for Ford to step down over the Green Belt scandal MPP Harris told CKMS News that the conservative government will continue with their plan to build homes on “non-sensitive” Green Belt lands claiming this was “requested by many municipalities”.  Harris concluded: “I want to emphasize that, under the continued leadership of our Premier, our Government will prioritize addressing the housing crisis, ensuring more people have a place to call home.”.

 

CKMS News – Protests to to greet “Ford Fest” in Kitchener

CKMS News – 2023-09-08 – Protest to meet Ford Fest

By: dan kellar

Ford Fest, usually a once a year political outreach event, hosted by the Ford family and primarily held in Etobicoke, has had its reach expanded this summer after Doug Ford took the BBQ on the road to Scarborough, Windsor, and in the evening on Friday September 8th, to Bingemans, a park in Kitchener. There was a by-election in the Scarborough—Guildwood riding shortly after the Scarborough event and there will be a by-election in Kitchener-Centre in January of 2024.

Protests are planned at the entrances and outside the venue where Ford Fest is to take place. Bingemans is in the Waterloo riding, which is held by the NDP’s Catherine Fife, and the property borders the Kitchener-Centre riding, and the Kitchener Conestoga riding which is held by PC MPP Mike Harris Jr. One of the groups organising a protest at Ford Fest is the Waterloo Regional Labour Council. CKMS News spoke with Jeff Pelich, the president of the Labour Council about the many grievances Ford will face from the public at Ford Fest, including the anger over the Green Belt development plans, the cost of food and housing crises, and the underfunding of public services such as education and health care. 

CKMS recently spoke with both Clancy and Chapman about Ford Fest and the Conservatives, and both have called Ford Fest a distraction from the growing Green Belt scandal and for Ford to take accountability, return the Green Belt lands, and step down. 

For the full interviews with Chapman and Clancy, visit radiowaterloo.ca/news

When contacted by CKMS News for comment on Ford Fest in Kitchener, the office for  MPP Harris sent a  statement from Harris which included “Ford Fest is a free, non-partisan community event hosted by Ontario’s Ford family.”, and Harris added “Ford Fest offers a unique opportunity for attendees to connect with their elected representatives.”.  Harris then reminded folks that the event is free, and will include food, concluding “so bring the kids and come hungry!”. No comment was given before this piece first went to air on the calls for Ford to call a full public Inquiry or to resign over the Green Belt land deals.. 

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news, and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

CKMS News – Local Greens hosting “GreenFest” in response to “FordFest”

CKMS News – 2023-09-06 – GreenFest Aislinn Clancy

By: dan kellar

Through the afternoon on Saturday September 9th, the Green Party of Ontario will be hosting a “GreenFest” in the Kitchener Centre riding that they say will feature “music, food, a group bike parade, and bouncy castle!”

The event follows a summer of campaigning for local Green Party candidate Aislinn Clancy ahead of a byelection to be held in January of 2024 to fill the seat vacated by NDP MPP Laura Mae Lindo. GreenFest is also a direct response to the “FordFest” event PC premier Doug Ford is hosting in the evening on September 8th at Bingemans in Kitchener. Of FordFest, Clancy told CKMS News “there are lots of parts of the campaign that are missing that I don’t think any amount of hot dogs and text messages can offset.” 

There is currently no candidate for the Conservative Party in the aforementioned byelection, while the NDP are running Debbie Chapman, and the Liberal Party is represented by Kelly Steiss. All of the parties have been calling for accountability from the Conservative Party over the growing Greenbelt scandal which has now led to the resignation of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, along with his assistant. 

 Candidate Clancy and the Green Party had called for Clark’s resignation in an August 30th statement also saying “The report from Integrity Commissioner David J. Wake confirms that the minister contravened the Members’ Integrity Act when he failed to oversee the process by which Greenbelt lands were selected for development.

Minister Clark was responsible for the corrupt process that allowed a handful of wealthy well-connected insiders to make $8.3 billion on the removal of their lands from Greenbelt.”

Previous to the 2018 election Doug Ford repeatedly promised he would not develop housing on the Green Belt, now with the Auditor General’s report, the Integrity Commissioner’s report, an RCMP investigation, and now calls for a public inquiry, keeping that promise may be forced upon the beleaguered premier.  On September 5th Ford announced the lands that were removed from the Green Belt will be re-reviewed in a process under new Housing minister Paul Calandra.  

CKMS news spoke with Kitchener Centre Green Party candidate, Aislinn Clancy about Greenfest, FordFest, a bit about the GreenBelt fiasco. 


This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news, and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

CKMS News – Resisting Renovictions in Waterloo Region

CKMS News – 2023-08-13 – Resisting Renovictions in Waterloo Region

By: MP Holmes
Kitchener

Over the last few months there have been several rallies and multiple media stories on the group of tenants in the residential building at 267 Traynor Avenue in Kitchener, who have organized against an impending renoviction. Their building was recently purchased by a wealthy investor landlord who then issued N13 notices to at least 20 residents in the building and more in another on Ahrens St. in Kitchener

According to the 2023 Housing Hardship Report from the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, almost half (46%) of renters in Ontario are concerned about their landlord wanting to evict them for some reason.

In Waterloo region, the Report notes that 37% of all tenant households are spending a third or more of their income on housing costs, and a person needs to make at least $24 an hour to afford a 1-bedroom apartment here.

Maribel Jagorin organized the tenants at 267 Traynor Ave., and she talked with CKMS about her situation and fight to save her home and prevent her own and her building’s renoviction.

CKMS news also talked with Jenaya Nixon, who up util recently was an outreach worker for the Eviction Prevention Program within the Social Development Centre. Jenaya was one of the initial supports for the Traynor Ave residents and she talked about how renovictions generally occur and how municipal and regional governments can play an important and meaningful role, regardless of  the provincial and federal initiatives.

Information and support to access if you are facing a renoviction in Waterloo Region:
The Eviction Prevention Waterloo Region at the Social Development Centre:
https://www.waterlooregion.org/eviction-prevention-waterloo-region

Easy to access and up-to-date legal information specific to Ontario:
https://stepstojustice.ca/legal-topic/housing-law/eviction/


Check out the archived versions of  this program on
radiowaterloo.ca/news., and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

CKMS News – Mobilising to defend the Greenbelt and “Stop the Sprawl”

Listen: 2023-07-29 – Mobilising to defend the Greenbelt and “Stop the Sprawl”

By: dan kellar
Kitchener

Premier Dog Ford and the Ontario Conservative party have pushed forward with legislation which will allow housing development across swaths of the previously protected land, despite previous promises to leave the Greenbelt alone.

Across the province residents have organized against the changes to Greenbelt protections, and in Waterloo Region many groups and individuals have been working to “Stop the Sprawl”. Ahead of the July 29th “Rally Against the Big Sprawl” in Waterloo, CKMS News spoke with Kevin Thomason of the Grand River Environmental Network and a number of other social and environmental justice oriented organizations.

Thomason spoke about efforts to mobilize against of the Ontario government’s actions and legislation which they he argues will dismantle the rules protecting the Greenbelt from destruction by development (such as with Bill 23) and undermine local democracy (such as with Bill 39). He also spoke of continuing to engage in public participation processes, the work of GREN, and some of the solutions that could be implemented to address the housing crisis without causing further damage to the ecological services associated with Greenbelt lands.

People and signs on both sides of a road, with pepole and signs in the grassy median as well. Signs reading "Stop The Sprawl" Among Others.
Photo: dan kellar

Lawn signs placed on either side of the road and in the median ahead of the Stop the Sprawl Rally. The first sign, red and dark green with white text which reads: "Stop Sprawl. Respect Waterloo Region's Plan. Stop Forced Urban Boundary Expansion on Farmland and Natural Spaces.
Photo: dan kellar
Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles standing with local NDP MPP Catherine Fife. They are having a friendly chat with a rally participant. Others at the demo are in the background.
Photo: dan kellar
A crowd of folks at the demonstration.
As the Ontario government works to overrule local decision making and accelerate the dismantling of the ecologically significant lands of the Greenbelt to facilitate suburban sprawl, groups across Ontario have organised to resist these actions.
Photo: dan kellar

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news, and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

CKMS News – 2023-07-04 – Jim Stewart of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition discusses protecting Ontario’s public healthcare from privatization

Listen: CKMS News – 2023-07-04 – Jim Stewart of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition discusses Protecting Ontario’s public healthcare from privatization


By: dan kellar

As the efforts by the Ontario government to privatize public health care in Ontario accelerate, protests by health care workers and local residents have taken place across the province.  On June 26th over 200 people demonstrated in front of St. Mary’s hospital in Kitchener to tell the government “Healthcare is a Human Right, Hands off our Hospitals!”.

Attending the event were representatives from the Waterloo Region Health Coalition and today’s show features an interview with Jim Stewart, the chair of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition, a node in the Ontario Health Coalition whose goal is to defend public health care against privatization.

In the interview Stewart speaks on Doug Ford’s and the conservative government’s continuing privatization agenda, the work the Waterloo Region Health Coalition is undertaking and the growing movement within the healthcare system, and across the public sphere, that is organizing to support health care workers and protect public healthcare in Ontario.

For more information on the Waterloo Region Health Coalition, visit waterloohealthcoalition.org.

 


This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news, and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

Headlines – Massive housing development nears approval, Health Care Workers Protest at St. Mary’s, Changes to community engagement process.

Headlines for June 25th 2023, from dan kellar of CKMS News:

1 – Massive housing development on former Schneiders meat plant property nears approval.

City of Kitchener seems prepared to make a decision on the housing development on the old Schneider’s meat plant as early as the next council meeting on Monday June 26th.

This features excerpts from the meeting.

2 – United healthcare protest outside St Mary’s General Hospital

A demonstration is planned at St Mary’s general hospital in Kitchener on Monday June 26th demanding more support for health care workers and an end to the efforts to privatize public health care in Ontario.

Ahead of the demonstration, we spoke with Jim Stewart, the Co-chair of the Waterloo Region Health Coalition, a node in a network of organisations working at “Protecting Public Health Care For All”

3 – Changes on the way to development by-laws in response to new provincial laws
In response to the Ontario government’s legislative changes with Bill 13, Bill 109, and Bill 23 regarding housing developments, Kitchener City council will be making changes to their by-laws and procedures around approval processes.

This features discussion from the council meeting focusing specifically on the implementation of digital-only meetings for public consultations for developments.

 

This program is a part of the “Local Journalism Initiative” and is funded by the Community Radio Fund of Canada, Heritage Canada, and the CKMS Newsroom.

Check out the archived versions of  this program on radiowaterloo.ca/news., and listen to all the LJI content at canada-info.ca.

If you want to get in touch with comments, or ideas about stories to cover, email us at news@radiowaterloo.ca

Enough is Enough demonstration, march held in Kitchener

 

By: MP Holmes

On June 4, the one-year anniversary of Doug Ford’s re-election in Ontario, thousands of people across the province came together for the Enough is Enough expo, march and rally.

In the Waterloo region, the demonstration was organized by the Waterloo Regional Labour Council and took place at Kitchener City Hall. The goal of the event was to draw attention to the cost-of-living crisis, the housing crisis and many other social, political and climate crises, and to show solidarity and exchange ideas. 

After a little less than two hours, the expo closed up and the participants marched down King Street to rally outside Grand River Hospital where six speakers talked about the situation and what can be done about it. 

A rally participant standing in front of a group with a sign reading "Stop the Sprawl... Respect Waterloo Region's Plan". The setting is on the sidewalk with the empty road on the right or the photo.
The Grand River Environmental Network joined in the coalition building rally Enough is Enough! Photo by Trish Holmes.
A close up shot of blue and red socks with a bird declaring "This is my Protest Sock"
Enough is Enough demo participants had style on lockdown. Photo by Trish Holmes.