What has Doug Ford done so far?
Doug Ford has wanted to be premier of Ontario for a long time. He finally got his wish. He obviously has plans, but he wasn’t exactly forthcoming with them on the campaign trail. We don’t know he’s going to do in the future, but here, in any case, is what his government has done so far.
Update: August 14, 2018
He’s taking cannabis retail private
After weeks of rumours, Ford finally announced his plan to scrap an existing scheme to restrict weed retail to government-run stores. Instead, Ontarians will be buying their greens from licensed private retailers. But the details have yet to be worked out. A government briefing earlier this week didn’t clarify how the retail licenses will be distributed, or how the new stores will be regulated and zoned. What we do know for sure is that these private stores won’t be up and running in time for October 17, when marijuana is set to be legalized nationwide. For the first few months of legalization, the only legal way to buy weed in Ontario will be from an online store run by—you guessed it—the provincial government.
He’s throwing money at the Toronto Police Service
Ford announced that his government would be providing an additional $25 million to the Toronto Police Service over the next four years, for the purpose of “fighting guns and gangs.” It’s unclear how, exactly, money will be spent, but a government press release says that $7.6 million will be devoted to “legal SWAT teams” charged with ensuring that “violent gun criminals” are denied bail.
He’s firing half of Toronto’s city council
When Ford was a city councillor, he was fond of decrying inefficiency in Toronto’s municipal government. Now that he’s premier of Ontario, he’s apparently very eager to impose what he sees as a solution. Ford’s government has passed a bill that amends the City of Toronto Act, the piece of legislation that gives Toronto’s municipal government many of its powers. The amendments revoke the city’s authority to decide the size and shape of its own wards, putting the province in charge of Toronto’s electoral map. The bill also slashes the number of city wards from 47 to 25, effectively halving the size of city council.
There are a few things about this that Ford’s critics find galling: for one, he didn’t campaign on cutting the size of city council, nor did his government consult with the public on the move, so it’s not clear that he’s executing anyone’s will other than his own. For another, the municipal election is just two months away, meaning voters won’t know who their candidates are until a few weeks before ballots are cast. Mayor John Tory has called for a referendum on the change, and city council candidate Rocco Achampong has launched a legal challenge.
He’s enticing brewers to sell beer for a dollar
As promised, Ford has made moves to restore buck-a-beer deals in Ontario. His government has lowered the minimum price on beer and offered some free LCBO promotion for any brewers willing to sell their suds for $1 per container. But so far only a couple brewers have expressed interest. Far more brewers, meanwhile, have been openly critical.
He’s cancelling Ontario’s basic income pilot program
Approximately 4,000 Ontarians are enrolled in a “basic income” pilot project that began in 2017, under ex-premier Kathleen Wynne. The program was originally envisioned as three-year experiment in giving low-income recipients government grants (individuals were eligible for up to $16,989 per year). The data from the pilot was supposed to help the province, and social scientists around the world, figure out new policy approaches to tackling poverty. But now that won’t be happening: the Ford government has announced that it’s winding the program down, as part of a larger program of cuts to welfare.
Update: July 10, 2018
He’s scuttling cap and trade
As promised, Ford is working toward putting an end to Ontario’s cap and trade program, which caps greenhouse emissions while allowing major polluters to buy and trade exemptions in the form of carbon credits. Ford has derided the scheme as a “carbon tax” and a “government cash grab.” Ironically, as a result of the end of cap and trade, the federal government will likely impose an actual carbon tax on Ontario. (Under the current national policy framework, any province without a cap-and-trade scheme gets federal taxes instead.)
The impending end of revenue from the cap and trade program has resulted in the cancellation of the Green Ontario Fund, which paid Ontarians to make energy-efficient upgrades to their homes and businesses. Another casualty: a $100-million school repair fund.
He’s backing away from funding refugee resettlement
As Toronto grapples with an influx of refugee claimants, Ford is trying to shift the financial responsibility to the federal government. In a statement issued ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, a Ford spokesperson blamed the feds for creating the crisis. “This mess was 100 per cent the result of the federal government, and the federal government should foot 100 per cent of the bills,” the statement said.
He dialed back pharmacare
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government extended OHIP to cover pharmacare for all Ontarians under the age of 25, but Ford’s government has said it will restrict the benefit to those without some form of private health coverage.
He delayed the implementation of stronger police oversight
The Ontario Special Investigations Unit Act was supposed to grant enhanced powers to the province’s Special Investigations Unit, which investigates instances where police may have been involved in a death or injury. Ford says the new legislation “hurts policing efforts in the province” (which happens to be, word for word, exactly what the province’s police unions have said about Kathleen Wynne’s police reforms). As a result, the changes have been put on hold.
He shook up the province’s ministries
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has been renamed: it’s now the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. (Which is weird, because Ford has said that he believes in manmade climate change.) The former Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and Reconciliation is now the the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs. The Ministry of the Status of Women and the Ministry of Francophone Affairs, both created by Kathleen Wynne’s government in 2017, have been eliminated entirely.
He paused plans to control the ticket-scalping industry
Kathleen Wynne’s government passed legislation that would have capped the price of resale concert tickets at 50 per cent above face value. Ford’s government has postponed implementing the price cap.
He delayed new vaccine reporting requirements
Under a plan approved by Kathleen Wynne’s government, Ontario doctors were supposed to begin reporting childhood immunizations to local public health units, as a way of keeping track of which children have had their shots. But the Ontario Medical Association says the province isn’t ready for the change, because there’s currently no easy way to do this kind of vaccination reporting. And so Ford’s government has put the new requirement on hold.
He delayed the onset of new anti-vaping laws
Kathleen Wynne’s government passed a number of strict measures that would have limited where people can use e-cigarettes and other vaporizer-type products. Ford’s government is delaying those new rules for further study.
He fired Ontario’s first-ever chief scientist
She didn’t last long in the job. Also gone: Ontario’s chief investment officer.
He set up a council on “Improving Healthcare and Ending Hallway Medicine”
And gave one of his close associates a lucrative job heading it up.