Category Archives: Ontario

Elections should be easy for voters: Part One

RHBS 160In one year we will be in the middle of a writ period in Ontario. Leaders of all of Ontario’s main parties will tell you “this is the most important election Ontario has ever had”. Let’s be clear, every election is always more important than the last one – the future is at stake, the four year ‘near’ future.

Instead of talking about how this coming election was more important that the 2014 election, wouldn’t it be better if the next election was presented in such a way that voters would know what to expect and understand what will take place based on a “real” election promise, not something vague. Somethings about the needs of Ontarians that is real to them and will make a difference.

Election promises are made, some are kept and others, well…aren’t. But to be honest sometimes the promises don’t make sense and just provide an agenda (if you don’t like the platform) or plan (if you support the leader and the party) for a four year mandate. Here is a simple idea – a simple four year plan to the voters of what will take place until the next election on four major themes. If you think about what happens now, each year of spending is a pot pouri of promises without a specific theme. Budgets are like Mambo #5; a little bit for you, a little bit for that group and little bit here and there. Lets talk about changing that with thematic budgets that address specific areas of the lives of Ontarians.

Simply put there are four areas that matter to voters: Health Care; Education; the Environment and Energy. Yes, yes…there are other important areas, but they can exist in one or  more of the four sectors mentioned. Each year of the mandate would feature a budget that focuses on one sector and its sub-sectors. It could look something like this:

Year One: Health Care

Year Two: The Environment

Year Three: Energy

Year Four: Education

Here is my theory, you do health first because changing health care is like steering a oil tanker on the seas, turning around takes a long time – it can’t make that turn on dime.  It will take four years for changes made to be seen and felt  for Ontarians.  If it works then Ontarians will see improvement in how health care is delivered by the time the next election comes around. In the second year the Environment is the theme and ties into year three with Energy. In year four Education is addressed for action after studies and consultations are done in the first 2-3 years of the mandate. If successful the four year platform rolls out smoothly, is successful and sees positive results that will ensure a second mandate.

Now, it will be problematic if there is no plan to follow up four years of success. Think back to Mike Harris and his five priorities, he completed his five priorities successfully however without a plan that could follow them up and because of that, under Ernie Eves, the Ontario PC’s fizzled. The lack of additional priorities was death bell of the Ontario PC’s in 2003 and brought us McGuinty and Wynne – we know how that has worked for Ontario.

The needs of Ontario do not stand still, neither should election plans, but governments get tired and try to stay relevant based on yesterday’s success. In this series of posts, I will look at the possibilities of having a structured election plan. It may even be considered as free advice heading to the June 2018 Ontario election.

 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

The Collective Benefits of Ending Homelessness 2

December 2011 I posted “the Collective Benefits of Ending Homelessness”, since then, over 5 years, there have been 500+ clicks to see the post. Five plus years later, it is time for an update. In those five years the conversation has shifted, it has moved from talking about ending homelessness to having available affordable housing, in essence the conversation could now be the “Collective Benefits of Affordable Housing”.

untitled

Back in 2011 I wrote about the then Federal Conservative Government plans to reduce homelessness by finding and funding places for people to get off the streets and under a roof. Was it the right approach? Where does the search to end homelessness begin? Is this is a chicken or the egg situation? What is the right beginning, to create new housing to move people to a house from a room or fund shelter spaces to move people off the street? Whatever the solution, it helps the circle of movement move faster and more efficiently (one hopes).

Since the 2012 report from the Ottawa Alliance to End Homelessness (ATEH) there has been an increase in the number of people accessing homeless spaces. The 2016 report (http://endhomelessnessottawa.ca/resources/2016-progress-report-on-ending-homelessness/) shows that 7170 individuals used a shelter of some sort, not since 2012 have over 7000 people sought a shelter for the night. There is some indication that the federal plan of 2011 has had a positive impact as numbers dropped to 6508 in 2014, but that number has been slowly creeping back up to the numbers released recently by the ATEH.

Why isn’t the needle moving in a positive direction on this? What is hold us back?

With a 10 year commitment from the City of Ottawa to reduce homelessness in its 4th year, there remains a concern that the needs are not being met – and that the reasons for it are changing. Affordability is becoming more and more the reason for not having a permanent home. Youth are couch surfing and families are moving into smaller homes as the cost of rent and everyday needs (like hydro) increase without solid solutions to reduce or stabilize the cost of staying in a home. In 2012 it was estimated that 1000 new housing units were needed annually in Ottawa to meet, reduce and eliminate homelessness. In five years the City of Ottawa has created just under 1300. Based what the ATEH estimated, the Ottawa is 3700 units behind its needs.

It is clear to me each new government has its own ideas for solutions to ending homeless and in 2017 we see affordability becoming a huge issue as the cost to purchase a home rises annually. The Liberals in Ottawa announced $11B over 11 years as part of National housing strategy, but that money is being spread over several initiatives – the $11B sounds like an incredible figure and it is. But on an annual basis the figures do not seem as impressive. As an example, the $3.2B in the Renewed Federal-Provincial-territorial Partnership for seniors housing over 11 years is less than $300M each year.

The $11B is a good first step nationally, but for the 10,000+ on the Ottawa housing wait list it will take years to build those roofs and walls and eventually end homelessness in Ottawa and other communities across Canada. What needs to be addressed is how governments can help the unknown those families, youth and individuals who are not on wait list, we don’t know where they are today or where they will be tonight.

I have hopes that by distributing the $11B through the CMHC it will be a much more effective and efficient flow of funding rather than previously when the money flowed through three different government hands before it got to the providers and builders of affordable housing. One positive out of the 2017 budget is that it should reduce the reporting structure for how the money used while this funding is available over 11 years.

2017 and 2018 will see several Municipal and Provincial elections held, for the social and affordable housing sectors these will be important to hold governments to account for a lack of progress and to ensure incoming governments and councils will take actions that will see less use of shelters as more rooms, apartments and houses for youth, seniors and families will be ready with doors wide open for them.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Happy Cannabis Day

Pot FlagThe Trudeau Liberals checked off another box today from their 2015 election promises. Legislation was introduced to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.

In this bill, Trudeau is sitting pretty atop the pyramid of responsibility, he has the least to lose and the least to pay for an issue that in the Provincial Elections of 2011 and 2014 was not raised. Even during my short time campaigning municipally in 2010, this was not an election concern. In the federal campaigns of 2011 and 2015, I don’t recall legal marijuana being listed as a top concern in Ottawa Centre and other ridings, whether it was in Toronto or Ottawa that I helped a candidate in.

While the Liberals have the greatest to gain and the least to lose it’s the two lower tiers that will have to work the hardest to make the legislation work. This is legislation that as far as I can tell was not top of the page in Queens Park, Ottawa or Toronto City Hall or any other provincial legislature. As the responsibility drops, there’s more to lose. The cost of enforcement falls to municipal and provincial police forces; the provincial justice system has to try the cases. Distribution will flow through individual provincial manners much like alcohol and with different provincial policies for health and healthcare it just gets messier.

If the federal government really wanted to take control of legal pot – they could do it all alone using federal institutions that are currently in place. Let’s leave the Provinces and Municipalities out of it. It’s not unrealistic to think that the federal government could do this all on their own, with few exceptions.

Growth and production regulations for of cannabis and cannabis products would fall under the Health Canada, while the Canadian Food Inspection Agency would team up with Agriculture Canada to regulate the growth, collection and inspection of the efficacy and safety of the product going out to Canadians. Health Canada would be responsible for education on the use of pot and the awareness of its use’s effects.

The federal government can rely on Canada Post for distribution of the marijuana to customers, either through mail or in Canada Post outlets. This eliminates the need and legality of others owning the pot dispensaries.

Enforcement falls in to the laps of RCMP; the CBSA could be expanded to include the law’s enforcement and on federal lands (parks and Parliament Hill) wardens and Parliamentary Police Forces would pitch in. In some other cases other levels of policing could be contracted and invoice the federal government when arrests are made. These policing costs would merely be a line item in the larger legal marijuana budget. Criminal cases would be tried solely in federal courts and convictions to be served in federal penitentiaries.

The same concept works for the treatment of cases for marijuana related ambulatory trips to the ER’s, stays in hospitals etc., Provinces can bill the federal government and receive payment through healthcare transfers.

Through all of this, the beauty is that the federal government keeps all the money; there would be no need to share any of the revenue from the sale of the marijuana.

Does this scenario make it more difficult for people who want to smoke it get it? Maybe, but that’s not my issue, more importantly though it makes it simpler to know who is supposed to do what.  It would all fall on the federal government – no one to blame (or praise) for the success or failure of legalizing pot goes to any other level of government.

The bottom line is this; it’s easy to come up with an idea and tell someone else to take care of it. But courage is to take ownership, 100% ownership. In a 2017 Trudeau world, there is no room to take 100% ownership of any problem, there is always someone else.

Now what can we do to move the date of legalization away, far away from Canada Day?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Is 25% enough for you?

wynne-and-electricity

Illustration from Ontario Wind Resistance (www.ontario-wind-resistance.org)

25%, that’s the answer from Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Ontario Liberals. Mired with a personal approval rating of 11% (as of 01/03/2017) the Premier announced a further reduction in the electricity bills of 17% this summer (after an 8% reduction that was set January 1st) as way to avoid the knives that would cut her and the Liberals out of government in the on 2018 Ontario General election. In the announcement, Wynne also stated that following the summer reduction in rates, increases will be tied to the annual rate of inflation.

Rates are currently frozen between November 1 2016 and May 1 2017 and tradition shows that previously approved rates go up on May 1st. So a question: with a reduction coming in the summer, will the 17% rate reduction have to take in any increase that may come on the first of May?

With this “olive branch” from the government, there are so many questions and so few answers.

I recently attended a meeting about Hydro costs hosted by Nepean-Carleton PC MPP Lisa Macleod; it featured a presentation by Peter Gallant from Wind Concerns Ontario. Mr. Gallant went behind the line items and presented what was represented on each line. There is so much more behind your electricity bill than just a box that says please pay this amount.

It will come as no surprise that your monthly bill is political. Political in such that choices are made in how the bill is written to make it seem that you should feel good about the fees you pay, right down to the final line of your statement indicating how much you saved on electricity because of reductions and time of use savings (I hope that makes you feel better).

Then there are the acronyms! My goodness, the number of acronyms that are used is mind-blowing. LDC, NUG, OPG, RPP, TOU, FIT and MicroFIT, GA, the list goes on.

My take away from the session was that producing hydro is burdened with levels of debt payment and delivery fees. But also that green energy, the McGuinty Green Energy Program, is going to burden Ontario Taxpayers for years as FIT (Feed in Tariff) contracts guarantee fees paid to generators that are up to 6 times more than what we currently pay for its use. The difference, and the bulk of what we pay, lies in the delivery and renewal generation connection charges created to bring in the revenue that time of use electricity rates cannot for the creation of wind and solar energy in Ontario.

The announcement by Wynne and Energy Minister Thibeault is going to push paying for contracts, repairs and expensive energy generation through to the next two generations or more. By only allowing rate of inflation increases for the next four years, debt payments of billions are being delayed, increasing the provincial debt further and increasing debt financing payments closer to the top the expense sheet of the province.

Prior to the announcement from the government, the NDP pledged to cut electricity rates by 30%. No word on how to do it, but just to cut rates by a third.

So now of course, Ontarians want to know how the Brown led PC’s will challenge the Liberals ‘reduce and almost freeze’ plan. MPP Macleod told those at her meeting that there will be a response, but it will be thought out (unlike the NDP plan?) and a workable plan to provide affordable electricity for Ontario.

We’ll have to wait, but I hope that the plan will include a dash reality, acknowledging what path Ontario has been led down by the McGuinty-Wynne Green Energy Coalition.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

 

A Cap ‘n Trade happy ending

happy-endingsDISCLAIMER: I am not a climate change denier, I have been on the earth long enough to know that our climate is changing and that everyone must do something so that when Canada celebrates 250 years our great great grandchildren will have a just as great country as we did 100 years previous. But, I am also aware that wages are not increasing in the private sector as fast as taxes are going up and being introduced. The end of being able to fund EVERYTHING the government wants/needs to do is coming.

Somehow I got an email from a company that was announcing its purchase of Cap and Trade credit, I do not know how they had my email address but that is beside the point here. An Ottawa area real estate team annouced that they had figured our their carbon footprint and purchased carbon credits to offset the carbon they create/use each year.

My first reaction was great – thank you for recognizing your environmental impact. My second was, you have a new cost and now you are going to pass it on your clients? On top of that in the email, there were suggestions on how to reduce our individual carbon footprint like using LED bulbs, lowering our thermostats when we’re not home, using cloth or reusable grocery bags an fill our green, black and blue bins for recycling.

Did the writer of this email think that we weren’t already doing those things? People are doubling up sweaters when they are home to reduce electricity consumption to stay warm. Many have to decide do I heat or do I eat? I asked the company to talk to the government and let them know that consumers are reaching the end, the disposable incomes of Canadians are thinning out because of the passed on costs of taxes and carbon credits to consumers.

They Real Estate company probably don’t expect any replies, but I decided I should ask a few questions on their decision to purchase Carbon Credits. How many did they buy? How much did they pay? Will they be passing the cost of their purchase onto their clients? Are they aware that by passing on the cost, they are adding to the cost of homes in Ontario making it more difficult for first time buyers and families that need a new home to replace the once they have grown out of?

I was not expecting a reply, but I received one the next day. in the email I was told:

“…as a company (we) decided to take this initiative on and fund the costs of doing so without passing them on to clients.”  

Further more they wrote when I asked why they were doing this at a time when cap and trade is going to cost consumers more, they wrote:

“My belief is organizations and individuals should all look at doing this for themselves and that means paying for it themselves not passing it down the line.”

So, kudos to them, I applaud their stance that believing that they alone were responsible for their carbon footprint and that they alone should pay for it.

Kudos to the Adam Mills Real Estate Team in Ottawa for taking a stand for consumers. They won’t get much press for doing what they did, but I hope that word sneaks out and that they have set the bar high for others to follow. That the government will be adding a Carbon Tax line to our hydro costs is expected – that one company in Ottawa has decided NOT to is unexpected.

I hope others WILL take note and follow their lead.

I am not in the market for a new home, but if I were they would be getting a call from me.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com for what I see, hear and read.

I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

 

121: I don’t get that they don’t get it

I am gobsmacked.

This week saw the federal Liberals drop their Climate Change plan on the provinces. It was disguised as a simple motion to have Parliament ratify the Paris COP21 Agreement. In Ontario the provincial Liberals have already started down the road of carbon pricing with a Cap and Trade partnership with Quebec and California. BC and Alberta have a Carbon Levy, with Ontario and Quebec the four provinces have the combined population of 80% of Canadians.

Through generations there have been causes that have had to be addressed; Acid Rain, Reducing waste, Clean Lakes…government has come and done what was needed. Here we are and there is an need to act to slowdown, stall and reverse the changes in our climate. I get that, some people don’t – that’s OK and that is a discussion for another day.

Here is what I don’t get. I don’t get that they don’t get it.

There is a cost to all of what Kathleen Wynne has done to Ontario. Increased Hydro rates, bad Wind and Solar contracts driving up the cost of doing business in Ontario which is driving businesses out of Ontario to the States who – get this – get our hydro for a steal, for next to nothing.

The Ontario Green Energy Plan (GEP) was forecast to create 27,000 jobs. That’s fine, but the 27,000 only represents 0.4% of Ontario’s total workforce of 6.9 million. The GEP will not financially benefit every worker in Ontario. In fact the additional costs we already know about, 4 cents/litre at the pumps, $5/month on hydro bills plus HST on a the Carbon tax will affect every worker in Ontario. Ontario’s plan is not a revenue neutral plan for Ontarians.

Ontario’s Premier, Canada’s Environment Minister (and Ottawa Centre MP) along with Prime Minister Trudeau have not expresssed one iota of recognition that this is going to be tough for many Ontarians, it will hit many in the pocketbook. Sure it may be good for the planet and the earth we leave our children and grandchildren may be better than it is today but while we get there Ontario families are going to hurt financially and the lives they dreamed of having are more and more becoming unreachable because of it.

There has been no real recogition, that the choices being made in Ontario are costing the middle class and fixed income voters of a good lifestyle, from Wynne, McKenna and Trudeau.

As recent as today there were two exampIes that the Federal Liberals have no clue what to say about the impact on Canadians a carbon price will have. In Question Period MP Lisa Raitt tried to relate how taxes keep going up and the impact of higher costs for everyday goods are very stressful. The federal reaction to this quest was for government MP to laugh. The laughter was so loud MP Raitt had to sit and stop for the Speaker of the House to have peace reclaimed.

On today’s CTV Power Play. Host Don Martin asked Environment Minister Catherine McKenna three times about the cost of the Carbon pricing on Canadians, three times! Three times there was no answer except that the provinces will decide how the impact will be felt on Canadians. Catherine was also asked about the impact the Federal GST would have on the price of carbon, again crickets.

The very same On broadcast, Lisa Raitt appeared with Toronto Liberal Adam Vaughan for a panel discussion. Vaughan was asked the same question and gave a response that the if Lisa Raitt was not the calm and collected politician she is I am sure she would have walked out, it was all over her face.

It really is as if they really don’t know what it is going to be like when all the extra costs of a Cap and Trade or a Carbon Tax finally kicks in.

I don’t get that they don’t get that.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.

118: Dear Glenn, Charles and Kathleen (Sung Prudently*)

Dear Glenn, we don`t know how to pay
Dear Glenn, we struggle to eat each day
The new bill is in, the previous is past due
It’s higher than the old one from you
Dear Glenn, we don`t know how to pay

Dear Charles, we don`t know what to say
Dear Charles, we don’t see a sunny way
The wind is dead but charges still ping
What you do won’t change anything
Dear Charles, we don’t know what to say

The meter goes around
And around round round
Goes around

Dear Kathleen, we see you meekly smile
Dear Kathleen, from your QP mile
Delivery charges cause me distain
Even less 8% is not a gain
Dear Kathleen, you are why you’ll never see me smile

Thank you for reading this post, to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.