Will Rob Ford reject another offer of free nurses from the province?
The ongoing spending cuts saga at city hall has had its fair share of strangeness—Margaret Atwood’s brief spat with the Fords; a 22-hour day of deputations; Giorgio Mammoliti—but perhaps nothing has been stranger than Rob Ford’s war on free nurses courtesy of the government of Ontario. Apparently, the mayor just doesn’t like free provincial dollars for health. He already rejected a pair of (free) nurses in June, and now the province is going to test him once again by offering the city three more.
The nurses would work to prevent the spread of bedbugs. Their hiring would significantly boost an understaffed bedbug-fighting effort that currently relies on city employees borrowed from other programs.
Ford said he opposed the two nurses previously offered because he believed the city would have been forced to cover their salaries when the provincial funding expired….
Ford’s spokesperson, Adrienne Batra, declined to say whether Ford sees the second batch of nurses the same way he saw the first. “We do not talk to the Toronto Star,” Batra said.
For those keeping score, that’s right, the mayor’s office still won’t talk to the Star—more than a year after the city’s paper of record ran an ill-advised, lightly sourced story about Ford hitting a football player he was coaching (the story later proved false). This much we know: the Ford regime sure can hold a healthy grudge.
But back to the nurses. We’re more than a little confused about exactly what kind of provincial funds the mayor will accept. Just yesterday, he went to the premier’s office to ask for provincial money for his Sheppard subway pet project—but he doesn’t seem to be worried about that money drying up unpredictably (because, you know, provincial funding for transit has never, ever been unpredictable in this city).
Regardless, one way or another this issue is going to go to council. Then we’ll find out how opposed to public nurses Ford really is.