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Ontario’s new NIMBYs, the fight to boost vaccine rates, and how Peter Gzowski woke up Canadians
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on May 13, 2019
File photo of Warren Thomas (Nathan Denette/CP)



Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following

Unions say Ford government set to cap public sector raises

Several union leaders are worried that upcoming consultations with the Ford government are a prelude to capping wage increases for public sector workers; they expect the Tories will introduce a bill to that effect later this month or in early June. Ontario Public Service Employees' Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas, above, told CBC that the province's consultations with unions are a "sham." While government salaries are often seen as overly generous, the latest available statistics from the province show that, on average, public sector unions have received lower wage settlements than the private sector every year since 2013.

Ford nips talk of restricting abortion in the bud

Hours after three Progressive Conservative MPPs appeared at an anti-abortion rally at Queen’s Park, Premier Doug Ford issued a statement emphasizing that the Tories have no intention of changing provincial laws surrounding abortion access. “The Ontario PC Party is a big tent,” the statement said. “We welcome members from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs … The government will not re-open the abortion debate.”

NDP calls on the province to declare a climate emergency

On the heels of the British Parliament declaring a climate emergency last month, the New Democrats have introduced a motion asking the legislature to declare a climate emergency in Ontario. Party leader Andrea Horwath cited recent floods, tornadoes, and wildfires as evidence that the province needs to act with greater urgency to address climate change. Hundreds of local governments around the world have already taken this step, including Ontario cities such as Ottawa and Kingston.

New research centre to fight vaccine misinformation

Amid alarming outbreaks of measles in Canada and elsewhere, the University of Toronto is launching the Centre of Vaccine Preventable Diseases, which will focus on boosting immunization rates and fighting vaccine misinformation. Thanks to robust vaccination rates in the late 20th century, measles had been effectively eliminated in Canada by 1998 and in the U.S. by 2000. But unfounded fears about vaccine safety have led to a decrease in immunizations, and the highly infectious disease has returned.

What we're tracking

Steve Paikin recently interviewed Ontario Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy for an upcoming episode of the #onpoli podcast. At the peak of his career as a finance executive, Bethlenfalvy left it behind to become the Progressive Conservative MPP for Pickering–Uxbridge. He tells Paikin about his Montreal roots, his parents’ First World War escape, and why he believes Queen’s Park should be run like a business. Watch for the episode on Monday.

Watch now

The Agenda: Electroconvulsive therapy

In the production of the U.S. rock musical Next to Normal, now playing in Toronto, a character who lives with bipolar disorder receives electroconvulsive therapy. Also known as ECT, this treatment has proven to be effective for severe depression and mood disorders that haven’t responded to medication or talk therapy — but it also suffers from stigma due to dated ideas about how it works. The Agenda welcomes an actor from Next to Normal and two mental health practitioners to discuss the effectiveness of ECT today.

The Not So Secret Life of the Manic Depressive: 10 Years On

In a 2006 Independent article, actor and comedian Stephen Fry wrote for the first time about living with bipolar disorder, a journey he later chronicled in Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive. Ten years later, he returns to the subject to examine how awareness of mental health has changed since. He talks about his suicide attempt while filming in Uganda in 2012, how his busy lifestyle exacerbates his condition, and how he has come to terms with it all.

Read now

Don’t you be my neighbour: Ontario’s new NIMBYism

construction in Toronto
Construction in Toronto (Fred Lum/CP)

With the province expecting a population boom over the next two decades, writer Diane Peters reports on how amenable Ontarians are — or are not — to growth in their neighbourhoods. “People are anxious about change in general,” says Cherise Burda, executive director of the Ryerson City Building Institute. “There’s a lot of development going on right now.” Rather than asking for policies that restrict certain kinds of residents and housing, she says, people should be more concerned about advocating for street-level design that promotes walkability, encourages new business, and suits a diverse range of residents.

Tonight on TVO

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Rethinking Ontario’s housing supply

Last week, the Progressive Conservative government revealed its plan to open up housing supply in an increasingly squeezed and pricey market. Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, joins The Agenda to respond to some people’s concerns that developers are the big winners in the new plan. Clark says his extensive consultations uncovered planning backlogs and too much red tape. “The one thing that really became evident is we’re in a crisis situation,” Clark says., “We have vacancy rates at an all-time low and people don’t seem to be able to see a clear path to home ownership. We really needed to do something to spur on housing supply.”

From the archive

Jan 25, 1983 – Peter Gzowski

In this episode of Realities, journalist Robert Fulford interviews broadcaster Peter Gzowski, who at the time had just succeeded Don Harron as host of a CBC Radio show called Morningside. They spoke about the well-informed and enthusiastic nature of listeners across Canada, and the importance of radio to people in remote areas. “Mr. Canada,” as Gzowski was sometimes called, had a 40-year career in journalism and became a national icon. He died in 2002.

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