TVO.org daily: Tuesday, December 10

Turning northeastern Ontario cities into outdoor art galleries
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on Dec 10, 2019
Attorney General Doug Downey announced Monday that there will be no further reductions to Legal Aid Ontario’s budget after this year. (twitter.com/DouglasDowney)

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Ontario nixes future legal aid cuts — but keeps existing ones in place 

Attorney General Doug Downey announced Monday that there will be no further reductions to Legal Aid Ontario’s budget after this year, the CBC reports. But the government is leaving this year’s $133 million cut, which amounts to 30 per cent of the legal aid budget, in place.  
 
Downey also introduced the Smarter and Stronger Justice Act in the legislature Monday, the Toronto Star reports. He is pitching the act as an attempt to overhaul and simplify the legal system, and the bill has the support of the Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario, which has previously criticized the government’s handling of legal aid. “This new legislation will improve the delivery of legal aid services in Ontario while ensuring that independent community legal clinics continue to work closely with the communities they serve,” the organization said in a statement.


Budget watchdog sounds warning on provincial spending plans

Peter Weltman, Ontario’s financial accountability officer, says the province’s plans to cut taxes could leave health care and education significantly underfunded, CTV News reports. In a study released Monday, Weltman found demand for public services will outpace planned government spending by $5 billion over the next three years. The province still intends to deliver an income tax cut that would cost it $2.26 billion a year. To meet that tax-cut promise and make good on another pledge to balance the budget by 2023-24, Weltman says the government would have to change programs to reduce costs, find additional efficiencies over and above what has already been discovered, or slash public services.


Lawyers say new law suppresses legal action against the province

The Ontario government is using a law it recently passed to try to shut down at least eight class-action lawsuits against it, The Globe and Mail reports. The province says the Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, which came into effect July 1, is meant to bar lawsuits over government policy and spending decisions and clarify existing law. But lawyers suggest it makes it difficult — or impossible — to sue government officials for negligence. Lawsuits affected by the legislation include allegations of prison overcrowding, indefinite wait lists for disabled adults seeking support services, and cruel and unusual use of solitary confinement.


Polls suggests strong support for merging public and Catholic school systems

A DART & Maru/Blue Voice Canada poll conducted for the Toronto Sun finds 71 per cent of Ontarians support merging the Catholic and public school systems. “A strong majority of Ontario citizens have an appetite to merge both the Ontario public and Catholic school boards to create efficiencies and save money that can be put back into the classroom,” says John Wright, partner at DART. Education Minister Stephen Lecce recently reiterated that the government supports the current system and will not merge the boards.



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The Agenda: A wealth tax in Canada?

According to a 2018 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report, the wealthiest 87 families in Canada have as much wealth as the bottom 12 million Canadians. In the fall federal election, the NDP proposed a 1 per cent wealth tax for families with assets over $20 million. Approximately 6,000 families would face the tax, but is it fair? Would it be effective, or do more harm than good? The Agenda examines both sides of the argument.


National Geographic: Orangutan Rescue

A school on the edge of the rainforest in Borneo, Indonesia, is made up of an exceptional class of rescued orangutans who have been orphaned and must now learn vital skills to be able to return to their natural habitat. This documentary follows them as they learn skills, such as tree climbing, needed to survive in the wild.



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Turning northeastern Ontario cities into outdoor art galleries


building with a mural on it
Courtesy of Up Here

In bigger Ontario cities, there’s a tendency to take public art for granted. But in smaller municipalities, it can be more difficult to get widescale art projects commissioned and installed. Northeastern Ontario Hub reporter Nick Dunne learns about public art initiatives in Sudbury, North Bay, and Sault Ste. Marie. Through the creation of interesting and culturally significant areas, supporters hope to revitalize downtown cores, increase foot traffic, encourage newcomers, and retain youth.


The big endorsement, Part 4: Steven Del Duca



Steven Del Duca and Bob Bell
(Photo of Steven Del Duca by Chris Young/CP. Photo of Bob Bell from The Agenda)

In politics, there are endorsements — and then there are endorsements. “It’s rather extraordinary that a former deputy minister of health, Bob Bell, has chosen to go public with an official endorsement of Steven Del Duca, one of six candidates seeking the leadership of the Ontario Liberal party,” writes Steve Paikin. In his latest analysis of the Ontario Liberal leadership race, Paikin details the events leading up to the endorsement — and mulls what it might mean.



Tonight on TVO


8 p.m. — The Agenda: The internet’s mid-life crisis

In the 1990s, the internet was thought of as democratic and anarchic. Then, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as companies including Google and Amazon, ushered in an era of online corporatization. With the help of Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing, Jacob Malthouse, co-founder of .ECO, and Ramona Pringle, director of Ryerson’s media-innovation incubator, The Agenda looks at the web’s original promise, its milestones, and the future of the hyper-connected world.


9 p.m. — Revelstoke: A Kiss in the Wind

In a narrative that resonates across continents and generations, Italian filmmaker Nicola Moruzzi explores the meaning of home, family, and community. Moruzzi’s great-grandfather was a railway-construction worker in Revelstoke, B.C., sending money home to Italy. He died in an accident in 1915 before he could see his newborn daughter, Moruzzi's grandmother. In this heartwarming story, Moruzzi meets the relatives of Italian immigrants who had known his great-grandfather and visits the site inside a railway tunnel in the mountains where his ancestor died.

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