Grocery gift cards for storm victims have gone from feel-good story to political liability

Grocery gift cards for storm victims have gone from feel-good story to political liability

(Image: The York-Simcoe Liberals Facebook page.) (Image: The York-Simcoe Liberals Facebook page.)
 

The provincial government’s grocery gift cards for ice-storm victims should have been a feel-good story. Government and private industry coming together to help needy residents? Everyone can get behind that.

And yet now, on the last day of the handouts, the campaign has turned into a burdensome embarrassment for Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne, who launched the program personally less than a week ago. The issue is that the cards have been in short supply since day one, leading to lots of awkward news stories about Ontario Works offices turning people away empty-handed. On top of that, there seems to have been no system for assessing whether people collecting the cards were actually in need. All anyone had to do was prove that they lived in an affected area. CTV News noticed someone rolling up to one of the distribution points in a BMW hatchback.

The fact that the province was able to get more than $500,000 worth of aid directly to Torontonians is definitely a good thing, but these types of logistical errors are what happens when the money comes first and the plan comes after. The screw-up may not stick to Wynne at election time, but it sure won’t improve the Liberal party’s already-tenuous hold on power.