What's ON: The week ahead in Ontario politics (November 22-26)

Tories break an election promise, inspector layoffs, and the government courts the labour vote
By Daniel Kitts - Published on Nov 22, 2021
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton will be on TVO's The Agenda on Thursday to talk about the Working for Workers Act. (CP/Richard Lautens - pool)

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Every Monday, TVO.org provides a primer on what to look for in the coming week in Ontario politics, and features some stories making news now.

Here’s what we’ve got our eye on:

Queen’s Park Keywords

Government ads: CTV News reports the Progressive Conservatives will not honour an election promise to restore the Auditor General’s oversight over government advertising. The Auditor General has the ability to ban government advertising her office deems overly-partisan. But in 2015, the then-Liberal government watered down the language around what could be considered a partisan ad. In 2018, the Progressive Conservatives promised to restore the old language. But now they say they’re not. "We have a great working relationship with the auditor general when it comes to government advertising and are maintaining the status quo at this time," Ivana Yelich, a spokeswoman for Premier Doug Ford, said in a statement.

Inspector layoffs: More than 30 inspectors with the Ontario College of Trades have received layoff notices as the agency is dissolved and its responsibilities are handed over to the Ministry of Labour and Skilled Trades Ontario. During the 2018 election campaign, Doug Ford promised that no public sector workers would be laid off under a Progressive Conservative government. He later amended his language in 2019 by saying "no front-line workers" would face layoffs. "Doug Ford said no one would lose their jobs," Terry Dorgan, an inspector facing layoff, told CBC News. "We trusted him."

A man filming in The Agenda studio

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Painful renewals: Disabled persons and their advocates tell CBC News the province makes renewing health cards difficult for some of them. People with drivers’ licenses can get their health cards renewed online. But people who don’t drive need to renew at a Service Ontario location in person. For those with disabilities that make travel difficult or extremely painful, that’s a problem. "If they could find a way that renewing online could be made possible for everybody involved, disabled and able-bodied people alike, it would just be so much easier all around," said Crystal Barnard, who is recovering from major back surgery.

Order of business

Here is some of what the legislature is scheduled to discuss this week:

  • Monday: There will be a ministerial statement from Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark in honour of National Housing Day. There will also be notice of government motion number 8, which proposes that orders made in response to the pandemic under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act be extended until March 28, 2022.
  • Tuesday: There will be discussion of the aforementioned government motion number 8. As well, two private member’s bills will be discussed: One by NDP MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s), and one by NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong (London—Fanshawe). 
  • Wednesday: The morning will see more debate around the reply to the Oct. 4 speech from the throne. The afternoon will be an opposition day, where the opposition parties get to set the agenda. Also, NDP MPP for University—Rosedale Jessica Bell will introduce a private members’ bill.
  • Thursday: There will be third reading of the Working for Workers Act, the government’s attempt to reform the province’s labour laws. There will also be discussion of a private member’s bill by NDP MPP for London North Centre Terence Kernaghan. In addition, a moment of silence will be observed for Trans Day of Remembrance.  

Beyond the Pink Palace

COVID-19 case numbers: The province reported 741 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. The seven-day average for new cases was about 645, up from 573 a week earlier.

Vaccinating kids: The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses for children aged 5 to 11 arrived in Canada yesterday on a plane that touched down in Hamilton. If you're a parent who has questions about getting your child vaccinated, the Toronto Star tries to provide some answers.  

Senator dies: Josée Forest-Niesing, a life-long resident of Sudbury who had represented Ontario in the Canadian Senate since 2018, has died from COVID-19. Forest-Niesing was fully vaccinated against the virus, but was considered especially vulnerable because of an autoimmune condition that had affected her lungs for the last 15 years. A Franco-Ontarian, she was known as an advocate for French-language rights. She was 56.

Upcoming Ontario politics coverage on TVO

On Tuesday, listen to the latest edition of the #onpoli podcast,  hosted by Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath.

On Thursday, The Agenda will examine what’s behind the Progressive Conservatives’ push to be on the side of workers. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton joins a group of stakeholders to discuss his party’s new labour policies, whether union leaders actually like what they see, and the politics of it all. The Agenda airs weeknights on TVO at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

And on TVO.org, you can expect the latest from our regular political columnists, John Michael McGrath and Matt Gurney.

This article was updated at 6:20 a.m.


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