Recently while making the most of a rare opportunity to be back home for a weekend, I had a chance to catch up with a young acquaintance I’ve known for quite some time. As a result of the numerous casual chats that have had with this young adult, I have really come to respect her innate intelligence, sensibility and contagious positive outlook on life. Recently she told me she was in the market to purchase her first car. I was expecting her to tell me she wanted to get some sporty zoom-zoom vehicle to bomb around in with her friends and family. I was somewhat surprised (although I should not have been knowing her) to hear her say that her primary focus was on reliability and stability on the road.
On my drive back to Toronto last weekend our conversation came to mind again. It occurred to me that actually, reliability and stability is what most of us seek in our lives, be it a car, a home, a partner, a parent, a business, our employment and, of course, our government. We all need that sense of confidence so that we know we can count on certain things in our lives.
Later in the week, Andrea Horwath was invited to speak at the Ontario Economic Summit in Niagara-on-the Lake. She pointed out that stability is what Ontario business leaders favour. In order for them to have any real chance for growth and longevity they need to be able to make reasonable forecasts and projections so that they can keep costs down and prices reasonable for optimum long term profitability. They need to know they can count on certain things being stable. But Andrea pointed out that such is not what Ontario business leaders are seeing with Doug Ford’s Conservative government. What they are seeing instead is a government that has no qualms in ripping up hundreds of legally signed contracts with businesses, taking away their legal recourse to challenge the government, and cancelling university expansion investments without warning.
Andrea said, “Businesses, investors, and workers deserve to know what to expect in the next quarter, the next year, and the next five years. No surprises. No secrets.”
Doug Ford’s way of doing things is having a chilling effect on businesses that want to expand or invest in our great province. The businesses have long said that stability and predictability is what they want from all levels of government, of all political stripes. I personally agree with the business community when they say they are growing increasingly concerned that that’s not what we’re getting from the Ford government.
We need a government that will make it easy for people to invest in Ontario by presenting a roadmap for growth and then see it through. As a northerner I know that includes delivering broadband in communities like ours here in Algoma-Manitoulin so that we can be connected with the rest of the province. It also means maintaining our infrastructure and making sure people can afford to use it. And it means investing in our most valuable resources such as our students and our labourers so they can access the services they need to build a great life here, the opportunity they need to build a great career here, close to home.
A prime example of this is the surprise attack on the green energy industry with the cancelation of the GreenON program. This misguided decision leaves companies scrambling to adjust or even to survive. It’s the same for companies that manufacture or sell energy efficient windows as well as contractors who do such installations. These businesses anticipated stability and growth in this sector, making plans and training and hiring workers to take advantage of the business opportunity.
Education, like the business world, counts on reliability and stability. Just days ago both educators and private sector partners were surprised by Doug Ford’s move to scrap three university extension campuses underway at York University’s in Markham, Wilfrid Laurier University’s in Milton, and the Brampton campus of Ryerson University. These schools and communities were confident and anticipated increased investment, more university-educated workers and more economic activity. So much for their business plans.
Scrapping these campuses now is outright shameful and will undercut the futures of thousands of students. It is not only a waste of the time and money already invested but a waste of the valuable opportunity we have to expand Ontario’s capacity for research, innovation and excellence in a number of fields. Doug Ford’s decision to rip opportunity away from thousands of students is callous, and is a major blow to job creation and economic activity in for all Ontarians. Students need more opportunities to build their best lives here in Ontario, not less. If this can happen so easily in the GTA, what chance do we have here in the North?
Doug Ford has been announcing to anyone who will listen that under his leadership that, “Ontario is open for business. But you know, I don’t care how big or bright the “Open” sign is on Ontario’s door. If the business world has no confidence in our reliability and stability, that sign is not going to be swinging from incoming traffic wanting to set up shop here.