ELLIOT LAKE—In the Fall Economic Statement, Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his Conservatives have cut more than $3.2 billion, including the transportation operating budget by $305 million.
“Northerners are already affected by poor road maintenance, winter and summer. We can’t afford more cuts when our highways are closed for days after floods or snowstorms,” said NDP MPP Michael Mantha. “People in Northern Ontario rely on roads to get to medical appointments, to school or to work, and shouldn’t have to worry for their safety.”
Mr. Ford also announced that his government was abolishing the Children and Youth Advocate, the Environmental Commissioner and the French Language Commissioner.
“It is a sad time for Ontario. When the government reduces the oversight over itself, nothing good can come out of it,” said Mr. Mantha. “We need independent legislative officers to keep the government in check. The Conservatives are demonstrating that they have little interest in youth, Francophones or the environment, for that matter.”
There are not many options for children and youth across Algoma-Manitoulin to access representation or assistance as our resources and services are much lower than that of families in urban centres, said Mr. Mantha. If a child were to experience homelessness, there are not many shelters throughout the riding that will have the funding or the space to assist them; especially if they are not with an adult. “We also can’t forget that since Indigenous children are overrepresented in the child welfare system, the loss of the Child Advocate will make it increasingly more difficult to navigate these systemic issues.”
“It is troubling to see Mr. Ford’s Conservatives attacking every single environmental safeguard we had in Ontario, especially after seeing the massive forest fires from this summer or the rapid floods of this fall. Ontario will not be safe from climate change, but Ford’s Conservatives refuse to act like leaders.”
The Ford government is also cancelling the new French-language university, said Mr. Mantha. He said Algoma-Manitoulin is a very bilingual riding yet post-secondary students, who already have to leave the riding for their education, will continue to be denied the opportunity to study in their first language at the university level.
“As a Franco-Ontarian myself, representing many Francophone communities across Algoma-Manitoulin, I am very upset to see this government rolling back on decades of progress that our community has made to preserve our language and access services in French.”