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Rivers: A Premier for the Lobbyists and Developers?

By Ray Rivers

July 24th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

“Despite being the epicentre of the COVID pandemic in Ontario, for-profit nursing homes, from a business point of view, did incredibly well over the past 15 months. The Ford government indemnified them against liability from lawsuits, paid them out at full capacity no matter how many residents they had, and even offered them subsidies for other lost revenues.

The profitability of the long term care sector is astonishing.

In fact, many of the investment-backed, corporate players in the nursing home industry will emerge from COVID-19 in better shape than they entered it, thanks in large part to the province’s aggressive and generous plan to refurbish old homes and build new ones.” (Toronto Star July 2021)

The authors of this in-depth report (link below) concluded that throughout Ontario’s COVID crisis, premier Doug Ford simply followed the advice of the last person he had met with, and those were all too often corporate lobbyists or his friends in the development sector. Apparently when it comes to COVID Ford has one rule for the lobbyists and another for all the rest of ‘his people’.

Construction hours have been extended at the request of the developers.

Why for example, was construction allowed to continue pretty much business-as-usual when so many other businesses with lower COVID transmission rates were forced to shutter? Construction is known to have one of the highest transmission rates of all industries, and yet, curiously, residential construction was declared an essential service.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to appear to be acting tough on public health measures, recreational golf and tennis, which had no previous record of COVID transmission, were banned. Small non-grocery business owners, with a tiny public footprint, were outraged that their big box competition at Walmart and Costco could continue to operate while they had to close.

And despite being among the hottest spots for viral transmission in the province, meat packing, the Post Office and Amazon, were allowed to continue unabated. In the end it took the local medical officers of health, not the province, to shut them down.

The way Mr. Ford has tailored his priorities helps explain why it has taken Ontario so long to get our COVID infection rates down. This policy of allowing high risk activities to continue while curtailing safer options is not just unfair, it’s also negligent.

The opening up of the hospitality sector too soon brought about a third wave from which we are just emerging.

“….since Ontario first declared a state of emergency in March of 2020 the government has made decisions that align with the interests of lobbyists — many of whom have close ties to the premier, his party or both — and the businesses they represent. Those decisions have often favoured certain sectors over others and have, at key moments in the pandemic, gone against public health advice, delaying or fracturing lockdowns. Those decisions have often favoured certain sectors over others and have, at key moments in the pandemic, gone against public health advice, delaying or fracturing lockdowns.?” (Toronto Star July 2021)

If only a lobbyist for vaccine passports or mandatory vaccination for health care workers could make their way over the premier’s office?

Background links

Star Report –   Construction Sector –   Building Trades –  Retaining and Big Box

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6 comments to Rivers: A Premier for the Lobbyists and Developers?

  • Valerie

    I certainly support your statement regarding lobbying for mandatory vaccinations for health care workers and vaccine passports.

  • Susan Corrigan

    I guess we’ll just have to accept the fact that politicians will always be looking after their own agenda. Fords “people” have no idea who he’s beholden to from the early days. For profit LTC pays big money to developers so this will never change. Whistle blowers pointing out the inequities with these organizations just end up with a target on their backs. Fire away because this senior is ready for it.

  • Fred

    He probably has financial interest in those businesses. Shameful!

  • Luke

    if you’ve decided to take up the “EUA – Emergency Use Authorization” for an injection and can still get Covid,what’s the use of a Vaccine Passport?

    Please explain.

  • Phillip Wooster

    Ray, why are you so obsessed with the lobbying of the Ford government? As I’ve checked backed in the archives of the Gazette, this is the 6th article in a row that you’ve written that has an anti-Ford bias.

    Lobbying government is as “old as the hills”; surely you realize that this is standard practice with all governments in Canada. While I understand your support of your hero in Ottawa who has an election looming, perhaps we can review the lobbying efforts of Rob Silver, Frank Baylis, SNC Lavalin, Irving Shipyards, and the Kielburgers (who “creatively” didn’t even have to register as lobbyists). Perhaps your next analysis of lobbying can focus on the payments to Liberal insiders.