daily: Thursday, June 20

Cheap gas, 400 health-care layoffs, and Doug Ford’s first-year report card
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on June 25, 2019
File photo of Christine Elliott (Chris Young/CP)



Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following today.

More than 400 layoffs imminent as Ford government merges health agencies

The Ministry of Health announced Wednesday that 416 people in “back-office positions” will be laid off as part of the government’s consolidation of local health-integration networks, Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario, and other agencies into a new organization called Ontario Health. Another 409 vacant positions will be eliminated. A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott says that the layoffs will eliminate duplication in administrative roles.

A year after freezing driver and vehicle fees, Tories consider hiking them

Last August, the Progressive Conservative government froze drivers’ fees. Now, it’s thinking of introducing an annual 2 per cent fee increase. In a proposal posted for public comment, the Ministry of Transportation describes the move as a “measured approach to achieving fiscal balance” and states that the increase would kick in July 1 and continue for five years. A spokesperson for Transportation Minister Jeff Yurek stressed, however, that no final decision has been made.

Prices on most Canadian goods go up

Statistics Canada reports that, in May, the consumer price index jumped 2.4 per cent from the same time last year, its largest increase since October 2018. The pace of inflation affected seemingly everything, from food to transportation — but not gasoline. Despite the recently imposed carbon tax, drivers paid 3.7 per cent less to fill their tanks than they did a year ago.

Major credit-rating agency says Ford cuts will cost municipalities billions

A new report from Moody’s says that cutting public-health, paramedic, and early-childhood-education budgets will leave local Ontario governments “worse off” to the tune of $2 billion over the next decade, meaning they’ll have to tax raises or implement efficiencies to make up the difference. “While the changes benefit Ontario’s credit profile, they are credit negative for the province’s municipal governments,” the report states.

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How Ontario’s fight for universal pharmacare went national

Last week, the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released a report calling for the establishment of a universal, single-payer pharmacare system. In “Flipping the Script,” a three-part series running this week, Matt Gurney analyzes the proposed plan, examines its viability, and considers the political climate that led to the council’s conclusions. In the first instalment, he explains how Eric Hoskins went from being Ontario's Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to leading the pharmacare advisory council — and how this province ended up conducting an accidental A:B test on universal drug coverage.

Why the future of meat could be plant-based

Last night, The Agenda looked at how big-box companies such as Maple Leaf Foods are trying to meet consumer demand for tasty plant-based meat alternatives. But are they just a flavour of the month? University of Toronto finance professor Lisa Kramer argues otherwise. “Demand isn’t coming just from vegetarians,” she writes. “Meat eaters, too, are drawn by the lower health risks associated with non-animal sourced proteins, a desire to reduce the environmental impact of their food choices, and concerns about animal welfare.”

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Impossible Railways: Crossing Chasms

This episode takes you to Scotland’s Forth Bridge and a vertigo-inducing viaduct in rural New Zealand to highlight the unique challenges that canyons and waterways pose to railway construction — and the ingenious solutions that transportation planners and builders have come up with to conquer nature.

Tonight on TVO

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Assessing Doug Ford’s first year as premier

Doug Ford
File photo of Doug Ford (Chris Young/CP)

What do Queen’s Park reporters and commentators think about the Tories’ first year in office? The Agenda assembles a panel to find out. Join Steve Paikin as he talks to Toronto Sun editor-in-chief Adrienne Batra, Martin Regg Cohn of the Toronto Star, the National Observer’s Fatima Syed, and columnist Matt Gurney about the government’s track record so far.

9 p.m. — House of Saud

The House of Saud is facing a moment of unprecedented political instability — and social media is giving Saudis deeper insight into their rulers’ behaviour, extravagant spending, and private lives. In this multi-part series, learn how Saudi Arabia’s royal family has retained its grip on power for nearly a century.

From the archive

April 12, 2000 — Lynn Johnston

For nearly 30 years, Lynn Johnston’s fictional Patterson family lived out their daily dramas in For Better or Worse, a cartoon strip published in newspapers across Canada and in more than 20 publications worldwide. The Collingwood-born cartoonist and creator of the syndicated strip talks to More to Life host Maureen Taylor about the GTA suburbs that inspired her work and how her characters grew along with her.

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