Hiring: a government that plans ahead - Denny Scott editorial
This week, Ontario’s provincial government announced a partnership that will see electric vehicle (EV) chargers installed at the OnRoutes (rest stops, gas stations and food courts found on the 400-series highways), throughout Ontario over the next couple years.
It’s a welcome announcement that shows the government at least paying lip service
to the need for greener means of transportation. However, like so many other stands this government has taken, it required walking back another decision to make it. Most recently, the government came under fire for implementing a $15-per-hour minimum wage after scrapping a planned increase that was scheduled by the previous Liberal government.
Critics pointed out that the decision to scrap, then re-enact the $15 minimum wage cost those who make minimum wage thousands of dollars while Premier Doug Ford and the provincial government dithered on the issue.
In much the same way, Ford’s provincial government oversaw a group ripping EV chargers out at Go stations in Toronto two years ago. In 2019, 24 chargers were removed from 12 Greater Toronto Area Go parking lots because the units weren’t generating a profit.
Now, anyone can do some quick research and find out that the decision wasn’t implicitly made by Ford or his government, but by Metrolinx, an arm’s length government organization. However, the program, established in 2013, had been around for several years before Ford and the Conservatives came into power, but was abolished shortly after Ford was elected. In
my opinion, that math is pretty self-explanatory.
You don’t have to look very hard to find example after example of Ford walking back decisions, sometimes years, sometimes days and sometimes hours after he makes them. Heck, some people may have already forgot that, in April of this year, Ford announced sweeping changes to police powers to help control COVID-19, but then walked back the decision a day later.
As a matter of fact, if you spend more than 30 seconds looking, you can find entire lists of things Ford or members of his government have said or pledged then changed their minds on, from Legal Aid cuts to the Toronto subway upload to cuts to the Children’s Aid Society.
Depending on what side of the aisle you’re on, the walkbacks might be welcome or they might not be, but the fact that so many have happened is indicative of a lack of planning, consultation and common sense.
This isn’t a “Conservatives are bad” argument, but one about the quality of people we need heading up our province and, unfortunately, Ford seems to not be making the cut. Whether you’re right, centre or left (or some amalgam of two) or red, blue, green, etc., we should all be able to agree that what we need is a leader and a government that looks to the future, not one who makes rash decisions and then walks them back.
Heck, when I interviewed Caroline Mulroney before the leadership election, I thought she would be a great leader for
her party and the province. Alas, the Ford political machine had different plans for the province.
EV chargers are a necessary part of getting away from fossil fuel dependence and, on top of that, they are a good way for the government to remove some of the barricades for electric vehicle ownership. After scrapping the electric vehicle rebate in 2019, electric vehicle sales plummeted by more than 55 per cent that year (a year in which all other provinces saw an increasing number of electric vehicles sold).
I know that the green agenda isn’t a big one for Ford’s big blue machine, but that doesn’t mean that changes like the installation (or just continuation) of EV chargers can’t be part of the government’s plan (as he has proven).
The problem here, however, isn’t one of green energy, but of not planning ahead.
I’m far from a carpenter, but I know the value of measuring twice and cutting once. I also know the value of rounding up and sanding down an edge later on. Both practices make sure you don’t have to buy more wood halfway through a DIY project.
We need a government that researches these decisions before making them and weighs the long-term impacts because, aside from the obvious impact of the cost of ripping out EV chargers and replacing them, or the individual cost to minimum wage earners of putting off the new minimum wage, there are also costs for scrapping and restarting these projects.
Mistakes will always be made. Our governments are staffed and led by humans, so mistakes are inevitable. However, it seems, with how often Ford is walking back decisions, having a leader with even a little more foresight could go a long way.