The newly appointed PC government is wasting no time in making sweeping changes to the province's legislation, including incoming laws such as a reform of police oversight, discontinuation of the GreenON program which provided monetary incentives for people to upgrade their homes using eco-friendly products, a complete cancellation of the cap-and-trade program and more.
Doug Ford has officially been sworn in as Ontario's Premier and though he has a questionable background, he's promised to make his government representative of the people he's leading and to launch a line-by-line audit of the province's spending to find any inefficiencies and ways to cut the budget down.
He's taken no time in making significant changes throughout the government and here's a look at the major changes he's made so far, or is planning to make in the future.
He's putting police oversight laws on hold and is claiming that reforms introduced by the Liberals "hurt policing efforts" and as such, has postponed implementation of the Ontario Special Investigations Unit Act — only one day before the law was to come into effect.
In a letter, the premier said the law aimed at giving the Special Investigations Unit, the team that is responsible for investigating all cases of death, injury and sexual assault involving the police, will be delayed until the government can conduct "a full and thorough review of the legislation" by consulting with experts, police and the public.
GreenON has been cancelled, which provided incentives to people looking to make their homes more eco-friendly and energy efficient. The program was funded by the province's cap-and-trade scheme and launched at the end of 2017, promising rebates for things like energy efficient appliances and 100,000 free smart thermostats to homeowners who agreed to an energy audit.
While the government will still honour rebates for work agreements completed by August 31, most commercial programs have already been shelved. The program was a part of the Climate Change Action Plan, which was to help cut greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent beneath 1990 levels by 2020, 37 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.
Ontario's first and only chief scientist, Molly Shoichet, has been fired and was supposed to be a voice for science at the top level of government. According to a spokesperson for the Ford administration, the role will be maintained and someone new will fill it, with the responsibility of briefing decision-makers and promoting scientific research both domestically and abroad.
“I was dismissed. I don’t think it was about me or even about the chief scientist position, but rather an out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new, even though, for me, I had just been there for six months,” she told The Globe and Mail.
The Ford administration also fired the Premier's business adviser, Ed Clark, in a post-election purge of personnel. Clark had previously been CEO of TD Bank, was appointed as chair of the LCBO in January and was a key player in the privatization of Hydro One and the expansion beer and wine sales to supermarkets. It's not clear yet if anybody will be hired to fill the vacant position.
Incoming anti-vaping rules have been halted, which will give the government the chance to “work with the public, experts, and businesses to re-examine the evidence related to vaping as a smoking-cessation tool to ensure that any changes are in the best interests of everyone and protect Ontarians’ health and safety," said a spokesperson.
The Liberals introduced tougher laws that banned smoking and vaping of medical cannabis in enclosed public spaces, workplaces and the majority of outdoor spaces, but the vaping industry is calling Ford's decision a win for the 900,000 vape users in the province.
The PC government has refused to answer questions about pot legalization. The plans to sell marijuana through provincially-operated stores is still pushing forward and 40 stores are slated to be opened by the end of 2018. The Liberal government introduced legislation to create the Ontario Cannabis Store to sell the product and to allow for fines if someone is found selling it.
"We are currently in the midst of a transition process, and we will have more to say once we form government," a spokesperson said.
Rollout of consumer protection laws for ticket purchasers has been paused, aiming to protect consumers from skyrocketing ticket prices by limiting the resale price of tickets to 50 percent above the face value. The government claims they paused the laws because there is no way to enforce them, a move which ticket resale websites welcomed.
“StubHub is pleased that the recently elected Ontario government has taken appropriate steps to ensure ticket transactions continue to occur on platforms that provide vital consumer protections for fans of live events," said a spokesperson for StubHub.
They've shelved plans for a redevelopment of Ontario Place, which was in the final stages of selecting a bidder to redevelop the one-kilometre long former amusement park complex. Bidders were told that the project has been put on a temporary hold, and a spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport simply said that "the government remains in caretaker mode during government transition and is unable to comment on policy."
The PC's eliminated the position of Minister of Indigenous Affairs and instead tasked Greg Rickford to serve as both Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. The Liberal government created a separate ministry for Indigenous issues in 2008, which was one of more than 100 recommendations of the Ipperwash report.
Ford has ordered all public service managers' wages to be frozen, however, merit pay for the current performance cycle won't be affected. The same goes for staff covered under a union, but everybody else will be put on hold “until the new government can put in place an expenditure management strategy.” He previously ordered all public service hiring to be frozen, except police and correction officers.
He's put his government at odds with the feds over immigration, blaming Justin Trudeau and his government for putting strain on local and provincial resources. Ford also said that Ontario should not be paying for the "mess" Trudeau made and that he is encouraging people to cross the border illegally.
"This has resulted in a housing crisis and threats to the services that Ontario families depend on," his administration said. "This mess was 100 per cent the result of the federal government, and the federal government should foot 100 per cent of the bills."