In a rare moment of clarity, Doug Ford and whomever pulls the strings that make his arms and lips flap have decided that perhaps being universally hated might not always be so great and have kicked a few particularly stupid cuts down the road.
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has backed down on retroactive funding cuts to municipalities after sustained pressure from local leaders, who warned of devastating impacts to public health, child care and ambulance services.
Municipalities had been pushing back hard against the funding cuts, which were announced after they already passed this year’s budgets, saying they would need to raise taxes or cut services to cover the shortfall.
Premier Doug Ford said he heard from municipalities that they could find savings in their own budgets, but they needed more time to do so.
“We’ve come up with a conclusion that we’re going to work together,” he said Monday. “We’re going to maintain the funding throughout this year. Every mayor I talked to said they can find savings. So that’s good news. But they said they needed more runway.”
The Tories are trying to trim an $11.7-billion deficit and had announced a host of funding cuts to municipalities, including for public health, child care, ambulance services, libraries, tourism and conservation authorities.
Ford said Monday that the in-year cuts to public health, child care and land ambulance will not go ahead. It was not clear whether they would proceed next year.
I’m sure they will, unless it happens to be an election year. They’ll just be more sneaky about it.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I feel like perhaps this was done at least partially on purpose. Not necessarily by Ford himself, because he’s kind of dopey. But the ones who actually handle the hard work of being province ruining assholes day to day have to find some way of figuring out where the line is. How much of our slash and burn agenda can we get away with at once, basically. Even the dimmest of bulbs in the PC family have to know that some of their plans are going to be unpopular and that enacting them leaves only a few short years before most of them are out looking for work. That’s why they’ve come out of the gate so fast on so many things. You get the hard stuff out of the way early and then you can maybe paint yourselves in a better light later by funding a few things that’ll be fresh in the minds of people with short memories come 2022. And if you have to pull back, you can say “hey look, you guys! We’re listening to the people!” And then you know to slow down and chop the living hell out of things more stealthily. Instead of death by a thousand cuts a thousand at a time, you make death by a thousand cuts two or three at a time and it looks less egregious because it isn’t all laid out in front of us at once.
Maybe that’s giving them too much credit, but real bulls in china shops don’t ever listen to reason, so the fact that these ones appear to be for the moment suggests that there’s more than simple incompetence at work here. And when you think about it, that’s probably the worse of the two options. It means they’re self-aware and are being as awful as they are with intent.