Even Toronto city staff thought Kathleen Wynne’s post-ice-storm food handouts were a bad idea

Even Toronto city staff thought Kathleen Wynne’s post-ice-storm food handouts were a bad idea

(Image: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook) (Image: Loralea Carruthers/Facebook)
 

After December’s ice storm, premier Kathleen Wynne spearheaded a botched effort to hand out grocery gift cards to needy people who had lost refrigerator-loads of food during the power outages. Who could have foreseen that the hastily assembled program would turn into an embarrassment? Now, months later, thanks to a freedom-of-information request by the Globe, we know the answer: Toronto’s senior bureaucrats could (and did) make that very prediction.

The Globe obtained emails from Toronto city manager Joe Pennachetti in which he tries in vain to warn provincial officials that their idea—which amounted to handing out $50 and $100 gift cards to anyone who asked, no proof of residency or need required—was a flawed one. “Historically, we have left that to private insurers,” he wrote to provincial cabinet secretary Peter Wallace and others. A few days later, when the lines for the gift cards started to get out of hand, he rubbed it in: “Needless to say our [Ontario Works] offices are being inundated as we feared.” Politicians: this is why you should never ignore Joe Pennachetti.