daily: Thursday, May 23

Phantom jobs, the megacity strikes back, and McLuhan had a bad feeling about this
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on May 24, 2019
Peter Weltman
Peter Weltman, Ontario's accountability officer (John Michael McGrath)



Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following

Financial Accountability Office says provincial cuts will lead to slower growth

As if Premier Doug Ford wasn’t getting enough grief over budget cuts to municipalities and school boards, the Financial Accountability Office released a report Wednesday saying that the Tory government’s austerity measures will stymie economic growth. It also found the budget plans would significantly reduce Ontario’s per-capita program spending, which is already the lowest among the provinces. These measures won’t even get the Progressive Conservative government close to keeping its promise of a balanced budget and lower taxes, says Peter Weltman's report: that would require double the cuts already on the books.

Budget Cut Wars: The Megacity Strikes Back

On the municipal side of things, Toronto Mayor John Tory is stepping up his fight against provincial cuts to municipal services, having launched a Stop the Cuts campaign and an online petition to “demand the province of Ontario reverse the funding cuts.” Some Toronto city councillors have also suggested that if residents receive a second property tax bill to make up for the budget shortfall caused by the province, it should be dubbed “Doug Ford’s tax.”


Injured workers face ‘phantom jobs’ and ‘ghost wages’

A new report has found that permanently injured workers are having their benefits slashed because Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board deems them employable in a new job, even if they haven’t found work. “For these unemployed workers, the WSIB simply waves a magic wand and assigns an imaginary job with an imaginary wage,” says the joint study by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups and the Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic. “The WSIB then cuts the worker’s benefits, by pretending that the worker is earning actual wages from the imaginary job.” In one internal audit from 2016, the report noted that nearly half of those injured, unable to return to their original employer, and yet deemed able to work by the WSIB, did not have a job.

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Nora Krug: Reckoning with German heritage

Imagine finding out your family history connected you to some of the most horrendous events of the 20th century, particularly the Holocaust. Artist Nora Krug learned first-hand when she began to look into the roots of her German heritage after emigrating to New York City as a young adult. She talks to Steve Paikin about reconciling her country’s past and the topic of her book, Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home. “If you call yourself a patriot, you have to be able to face every moment in your history, not just the ones that look good,” she says.

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Who should look out for the well-being of Ontario’s animals?

Recent cuts to OSPCA funding are raising concerns across the province, now that the animal welfare organization will no longer enforce laws against animal cruelty and neglect. New legislation is in the works, but for now, the responsibility for enforcement will fall to the police. Ontario Hubs reporter Mary Baxter outlines how animal advocates, the OSPCA, and the Ontario government are handling the gap and what their hopes are for the new policy.

Opinion: Why Ford’s line-by-line spending reviews are a farce

Ontario Premier Doug Ford
File photo of Ontario Premier Doug Ford (Cole Bunston/CP)

Politics columnist John Michael McGrath delves into the province’s recently announced plan to dedicate more than $7 million to help cities fund audits of their spending, and finds the investment lacking. “This isn’t a serious effort to solve a real or perceived problem,” he writes. “It’s spending public dollars to score points in a debate.”

Tonight on TVO

7 p.m. — Off the Beaten Track with Kate Humble

Along with her Welsh sheepdog Teg in tow, BBC science host Kate Humble travels from the tip of North Wales through the most remote parts of the United Kingdom, taking in the landscape and noting its influence on local life in each region.

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Rebalancing the opportunity equation

The GTA is one of the most diverse regions in Canada, but a new United Way report suggests many of its people are being left behind in a deepening economic divide. Tonight’s Agenda panelists discuss the report’s findings that racialized groups are becoming poorer over time, that today’s generation of young adults won’t do as well as their parents did, and that immigrants are earning far less than they need to succeed in their adoptive country.

From the archive

Sept. 19, 1977 — Marshall McLuhan


“The medium is the message,” Marshall McLuhan’s well-worn phrase, has never been more apt than it is today. The Edmonton-born, world-renowned communications scholar and theorist appeared on The Education of Mike McManus for one of his last interviews before his death in 1980 to talk about people’s numbing addiction to television, and its role in forming identity. “[New technology] creates new situations to which people have very little time to adjust,” McLuhan says. “They become alienated from themselves very quickly, and then they seek all sorts of bizarre outlets to establish some sort of identity by put-ons.” Though he didn’t live to see social media, McLuhan’s words about television ring eerily true about the way we communicate now.