If you’d like a glimpse into B.C.’s near political future, you’d be well advised to keep an eye on Ontario — which is not only three hours ahead on the clock, but also several months down the road on the unwinnable political fights governments are facing these days.
On the ropes from angry voters over the twin crises of a collapsing health care system and rising prices due to inflation, Ontario Premier Doug Ford delivered a throne speech this week that you can pretty much expect B.C. officials to copy and paste large sections of when our legislature returns in two months.
No easy solutions
“There are no easy solutions,” read the speech Tuesday, which warned about an impending economic slowdown, a “growing sense of uncertainty” globally, and hospital closures that won’t be ending any time soon.
“Unprecedented spending throughout the pandemic has created new fiscal challenges here in Ontario and across Canada that will require prudent economic management in the months and years to come,” the speech said.
“Taken together, these looming fiscal and economic challenges cannot be understated or ignored. They must be confronted head on. And there are no easy solutions.”
Nonetheless, Ontario tried to offer relief for the immediate cost pressures facing the middle-class due to inflation and interest rates by announcing a boost to disability rates, along with $225 million in direct payments to parents “to help their kids catch up.” B.C.’s affordability relief package is expected next month.
Post-pandemic healthcare crises
Still, it’s the frequent hospital emergency room closures in Ontario — six over the last weekend — the doctor shortage and the immense line-ups to access even basic health care which have that province’s politicians on the ropes. It’s a similar situation in B.C., where emergency room closures across the province, ambulance wait times, pandemic burnout, and a doctor and nurse shortage have the opposition calling for the resignation of Health Minister Adrian Dix.
“More can still be done,” read the Ontario throne speech.
“Your government is actively engaging with health-system partners to identify urgent, actionable solutions and will implement whatever measures are needed to help ease immediate pressures, while also ensuring the province is ready to stay open during any winter surge.”
Somewhere in B.C. right now, a team of highly-paid political staffers are massaging almost identical language for Premier John Horgan and his ministers to use when our legislature resumes in October, as well as for B.C.’s next throne speech in February.
Uncertainty, unprecedented challenges
No easy solutions. Growing uncertainty. Confront unprecedented challenges. Actively engage in fixes. More can be done.
Ontario was always a month or two ahead of B.C. during the pandemic, in terms of waves, restrictions, vaccine trends and more.
It remains there on health care, inflation, affordability, the economic downturn and budgetary pressures.
They are the crises most on the minds of voters these days — in both provinces. And they may prove just as unwinnable for the Horgan government, as they have so far for the Ford government in Ontario.