The Ford government’s war against children and women

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In a series of announcements in recent weeks, Ontario’s Doug Ford government has made changes to programs and policy that are harmful to women and children.

 

Ontario’s Doug Ford government doesn’t seem to like women and children much.

Witness the following:

An internal memo the Ministry of Education sent to day cares, highlights changes coming to child care programs, including the reversal of a key protection for not-for-profit day cares.
Advocates say the removal of the For Profit Maximum Threshold opens the door to the expansion of big-box corporate day cares in Ontario.

The cap was put into place two years ago and limits how much funding the government can provide to for-profit daycares.

In late July, the Ford government announced that social assistance rates will only increase by 1.5 per cent, not the scheduled 3 per cent, which is below the rate of inflation. As part of the social assistance announcement, the government said that a number of other social assistance changes will occur under a “100-day review” and the basic income pilot project will be cancelled.

Most people who benefit from the province’s two key social assistance programs, Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program, are women and children.

The government recently announced the “details” of its education consultations related to replacing the former Liberal government’s sex-ed curriculum. The Ford government scrapped the province’s two-year-old sex education curriculum before it had even begun consultations on the new one.

As a result, students are being taught from course materials that were created back in 1998. It turns out that the consultation process has been broadened to include input on everything from the sex-ed curriculum to improving student performance in science and math. In fact, the consultation website actually asks for “feedback on the education system in Ontario” and doesn’t particularly focus on the sex-ed curriculum at all.

As for public hearings related to the education review, so far those are now just telephone town halls and online forms or submissions by email.

And if that wasn’t enough of a slap in the face to students and parents, Education Minister Lisa Thompson last week “paused” annual grants that parent councils and other community groups rely on for activities such as math nights and cyberbullying talks. The Parent Reaching Out grants were created as a way to boost family engagement in schools, something that is key to student success.

The Ford government’s anti-family policies don’t end there. Last week Ontario Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod pulled the plug on the Roundtable on Violence Against Women, a panel of experts that advised the government on measures it could take to help women flee domestic violence.

And in yet another move last week, Attorney General Caroline Mulroney, acknowledged she has delayed delivering critically needed, already-budgeted funding to sexual-assault crisis centres across the province.

But the most troubling aspect of this litany of harm being done to women and children by the Ford government is that the government really hasn’t explained why it is making these moves.

Probably best not to dig too deep on this one – Doug Ford is not a particularly complicated guy.

Ford knows and cares very little about what the Ontario government does much less what the impact of cutting any particular program is on real Ontarians.

But he does know how to communicate to his conservative base.  And if the initiatives detailed above have anything in common, it is that they play well with Ford Nation.

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