It’s about truth and trust. When Ontario Liberals and officials from public sector unions say that Ontarians shouldn’t vote for the Tim Hudak PC Party because of all the negative things the Mike Harris government did to Ontario, ask them to clarify that point. Why?
Because the reality is that during the period from 1995 to 2003, just prior to the SARS health crisis, Ontario not only had a balanced budget (as promised during the 1995 election campaign), but the province was booming. Some 700,000 good private sector jobs — read “non-union” jobs — had been created and 100,000 people were off the welfare rolls and employed. Only the completely unexpected SARS crisis would have resulted in another, temporary, very small deficit.
So, when Liberal spin doctors and the public sector unions say the Harris government implemented cuts to health care and education, ask them to tell the whole story. Because the Harris government significantly increased spending in both areas. I was working for a Harris MPP, as an Executive Assistant and Communications Advisor, so I remember very clearly what did or did not happen.
The truth about cuts to health care.
Some $400 million was cut from hospital budgets and re-allocated to long-term care and home care which, under the Liberal Peterson and NDP Rae governments, had been starved for cash. How did that work? Well, more long term facilities were built. In fact, I can remember watching several facilities in the Niagara area increasing their space and, as a result, their regulated beds allocations.
Plus, CCACs were created to make decisions about providing hourly or daily nursing and personal care to seniors still living in their homes. There is no magic about that. With an aging population, something had to be done. So, when health care unions suggest the Hudak PC election platform is sketchy and all rhetoric much like the Harris promises, think about the reasons for such an anti-PC agenda — that “quality” can only be realized if a facility is non-profit and health care workers are unionized.
Meaning, that once again, this is all about public sector unions and what they will gain with a re-elected Liberal McGuinty government.
But, back to the hospital cuts. Did hospital CEOs find ways to reduce spending, particularly those top-heavy with administrators? No, they didn’t. Rather, far too many irresponsibly laid off front line workers like nurses. As a result, nurses picketed hospitals, but rather than blame the hospitals administrators, their unions blamed Harris. Which might explain why McGuinty does not deal with improving health care. He simply is unwilling to rock the boat!
Plus, when the education funding formula was changed to bring the Catholic system up to the same amount of money as the secular public system, was that really a cut or was it about funding fairness? Think about it. I’m not a Catholic but I sat through many meetings where Catholic trustees explained they received only 60 cents for every public school funding dollar. How was that fair? Yet, somehow to this day, Catholic schools and their grounds are better kept than regular public schools.
Moreover, during the 1995 and 1999 period, all publicly funded school boards received additional funding for special education, textbooks and library resources. I know because I saw the internal notices, which were confirmed by my husband, who was a public school teacher librarian during that period.
And, oh yes, when the McGuinty Liberals and their supporters try to remind Ontario voters that the Harris government closed hospitals, remind them that it was the arms-length Hospital Restructuring Commission who did that. And, if that is still a problem, then ask them how come they are not complaining that the McGuinty government allowed many Ontario hospitals to be closed during their watch — like in Fort Erie and Port Colborne.
Lastly, when Liberals and the public sector unions remind Ontario voters of the teacher’s strike in the fall of 1997 and all the protests involving thousands of people during the Harris years. Ask them why they had an illegal strike and organized those protests? If they can’t tell you, I will. It was because an Ontario government finally had the courage to say no to automatic pay raises and entitlements, something even the McGuinty Liberals are going to have to face at some point.
There is no magic in this world and at some point, the chickens are going to come home to roost. In the meantime, I am telling todays Ontario voters that Mike Harris kept his election promises, as the Hudak PCs will do as well. And, that most of what the Liberals and their union advertisers are saying about the former Harris government are lies and/or distortions.
Update: This post was originally published on September 13th, 2011 during the Ontario election campaign. Yet, late last night I received a comment that explains why I seldom get comments from rank and file teachers. They truly think that because I am retired, I don’t have the perspective about what the Mike Harris government did to education in this province. Well, in my opinion, it is exactly the opposite. It is they who don’t have perspective because they are so close to the situation and the propaganda spewed by today’s version of teachers’unions.
Teaching is no longer a “profession” unfortunately because of union involvement. Stewards in schools? Grievances? What we used to call our “Federations,” worked far better and were less confrontational and didn’t expect “entitlements.” Does my view excuse the Tim Hudak led PC Party for running what I considered a poor campaign? No, it does not. Somehow, even now, several months since the election, the PCs just have not caught the attention of the Ontario voter, in spite of what the McGuinty Liberals are doing to our once great province.