Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday June 24, 2022

What Doug Ford’s new cabinet faces: inflation, housing crisis, union talks

Ontario Premier Doug Ford will unveil his new cabinet on Friday morning in what is forecast to be glorious sunshine outside of Queen’s Park.

But after that, stormy economic and political weather looms for Ford’s second-term government. 

Ontario confronts the highest rate of inflation in nearly 40 years, an economic reality that will have a strong influence on everything from the amount of tax revenue the government brings in to the amount of pressure public sector unions exert for higher wage increases. 

The new cabinet also faces a housing affordability crisis that has spread to all corners of the province, an overburdened health-care system weakened by more than two years of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and a long list of promises to be kept.   

Ford and his newly appointed ministers are scheduled to be sworn in at 11:15 a.m. in an outdoor ceremony in front of the legislature. 

Here’s a look at the five biggest issues facing Ford and his ministers: 

1. Inflation – The rapid rise in the cost of living is a far-reaching economic problem that no provincial government can be expected to solve, yet it’s a problem that stands to have a profound effect on much of what the Ontario government does.

2. Public sector contract talks – Whether it’s teachers, nurses, hydro workers, police officers, road maintenance crews or Service Ontario staff, they’re all seeing inflation eat into their take-home pay. That is bound to lead to public sector unions asking for higher wages whenever their next round of bargaining begins, the argument being that any annual wage increase of less than the rate of inflation amounts to a pay cut.

3. Health system – Ford’s new minister of health will step into the shoes of Christine Elliott following her decision to leave politics. Elliott’s successor will inherit responsibility for a $68-billion system that is struggling to cope with staffing shortages, record wait times in emergency rooms, and a huge surgical backlog, even though there’s currently a lull in COVID-19 cases in the province’s hospitals. 

4. Housing affordability – The soaring cost of buying a home has receded slightly in the past few months, since the Bank of Canada jacked up interest rates in an attempt to rein in inflation.

5. Keeping promises – Ford’s won re-election on the simple slogan of “Get It Done” and a mantra of being the party saying “Yes.” The lengthy list of things Ford said “Yes” to provides a handy scorecard to mark the government against over the coming months and years.  (CBC) https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/doug-ford-ontario-cabinet-preview-1.6497872

Ontario, Young Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Monte McNaughton, Weird Al Yankovic, Pierre Poilievre, Peter Bethlenfalvy