ROSE CITY POLITICS – Here’s What The Next Government Needs To Focus On
The June 2 provincial election is now over and done. And so for this edition of Biz X, the Rose City Politics panel discusses, in their opinion, the most important areas the next Ontario government must concentrate on.
There are numerous issues the next government should focus on — from healthcare to long-term care, education to transit, and Ontario Disability Support Program to affordable housing — but the most important issue is combating both societal and political extremism.
This year saw an economic blockade of the Ambassador Bridge literally and physically divide our community in two, cost the tax payers $5 million directly, and removed over a billion dollars worth of productivity from the automotive sector.
At the same time we were then — and are still now, dealing with COVID-19 — and there are forces, some political and some community, seeking to eliminate all public health measures and ensure they are never re-implemented. This is dangerous.
The next government needs to get a hold of this societal and political extremism and work towards eliminating the root causes.
Two new provincial political parties are advocating against all COVID public health measures. The Ontario Party, who hired former Donald Trump advisor and dirty-trickster Roger Stone as a strategist, and the New Blue Party of Ontario.
It was opposing necessary COVID public health measures that led to the Ambassador Bridge Blockade.
In Windsor, a local anti-vaxxer and anti-COVID public health measures leader has announced her intentions of running for City of Windsor Council in Ward 4.
While the odds of these voices winning a meaningful amount of seats at their respective tables are low, it doesn’t mean they can be disregarded. These are members of our society, and while they are seeking extreme outcomes, they should not be ignored.
Legislation alone cannot ensure there won’t be another blockade or pandemic, but working to ensure the conditions aren’t ripe to exacerbate the situation should be a top priority of the government.
An election brings with it an opportunity to start anew and address issues head on, and while there are numerous issues deserving of full attention, the most important issue is combating societal and political extremism to ensure blockades don’t become standard political activism.
Jon Liedtke is a Host for AM800 CKLW, Co-host and Producer of Rose City Politics, a business consultant, serves on Artcite’s Executive Board, and is a band member of Windsor’s The Nefidovs.
Don Merrifield Jr.
In Windsor the obvious one is the ongoing hospital project. Stepping outside the debate about location, this is probably one of the area’s biggest issues — both on a healthcare front and for economic development.
Windsor Essex has been left with neglected healthcare infrastructure for decades. It is actually insulting how this area has been neglected by governments of all parties.
Although it appears the project is moving forward, the recent timelines for actual construction and completion leave a lot to be desired.
Many people have relocated to the area and will continue to with the recent economic development announcements, and an important factor for people relocating is ensuring adequate healthcare services.
I am hoping the timeline is a bit of politics that will miraculously get accelerated by the hard work of (insert politician’s name) and they can take credit for it. I don’t care. I just want it built as soon as possible.
Continued focus on economic development opportunities that involve other levels of government are a nice change again after years of getting the odd scrap thrown our way.
Maybe Ontario will stop ending at London and our economy can have some long-term stability!
Housing is an issue I am all too familiar with, given my job as a Real Estate Agent.
It is great for homeowners in this area to finally see property values increase as has been the case in most other cities in Ontario for years, but affordability for first time homebuyers has become a huge problem. Investments in affordable housing are required as the reality in the private market will not focus on that end of the market.
The deficit and long-term government debt are going to become a larger issue with rising interest rates. Any party promising to spend their way to power may sound nice, but they are just going to throw fuel on an already large fire.
Investments, aka “increased spending,” are only viable if there are available ways to fund them. Nothing is ever free.
Don Merrifield Jr. is a REALTOR serving Windsor Essex County for over 21 years, a Co-Host on Rose City Politics for over 10 years, a father and grandfather, a former professional musician, and a former Ward 3 City Council candidate.
The single most important provincial issue for Windsor is education.
The pandemic has brought healthcare issues front and centre, and the rising cost of housing is on everyone’s mind. But Windsor’s comparatively low level of educational attainment represents a drag on our economy and the limiting factor to increased prosperity for the city and the surrounding region.
Last month on our podcast, Workforce WindsorEssex CEO Justin Falconer told us: “We’re dealing with a workforce that’s not as well-educated, historically, as the rest of Ontario is.”
He went on to say that the picture is getting brighter and pointed to Canada’s G7-leading numbers in post-secondary attendance.
The most recent numbers available from Statistics Canada for the Windsor Census Metropolitan Area, which includes some county municipalities as well, do seem to show a closing gap. 32.6% of our population aged 25 to 34 has a high school diploma or less, compared to 30.7% across Canada. That’s an improvement over the 3.8% gap for the population aged 25 to 64.
It’s important to recognize progress, but we should be aiming to exceed the national average, not just fall short by a smaller amount.
Educational attainment is linked with income and Windsor has seen a decline in median household income since the 1990s, when we were above the national average on that measure.
The most important thing the next provincial government can do is invest in public and post-secondary education, particularly in removing barriers to post-secondary education for people experiencing poverty.
Windsor has the highest rate of child poverty in Ontario, and we will need help from the provincial government if we want our young people to fully realize their potential.
We’ve had a series of good news stories about economic development recently. If we’re going to make the most of them, we need an educated workforce. That’s the priority.
Doug Sartori is a political observer and organizer. When he’s not recording podcasts or getting people out to vote he runs Parallel 42 Systems, a technology consultancy firm in downtown Windsor.