Auditor General’s report reveals inaction on flooding risks, vaccine inequity
QUEEN’S PARK — Interim Ontario NDP Leader Peter Tabuns said it’s shameful that Doug Ford has left Ontarians less healthy and less safe by turning his back on his environmental responsibilities and on vulnerable communities at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a report released Wednesday, the Auditor General found several critical shortcomings in the government’s vaccination rollout. In addition to communication problems and wasted vaccines, nine high-risk neighbourhoods — including in Hamilton, Niagara, Peel and Windsor — were excluded from the government’s vaccine strategy for hot spots.
“The pandemic put a crushing amount of pressure on Ontario’s hospitals that hasn’t gone away,” said Tabuns. “Doug Ford isn’t doing enough to promote COVID-19 and flu vaccination today, and the Auditor General has confirmed that neighbourhoods that needed vaccines most were kept waiting.
“The Ford government needs to do better starting now by investing in ad blitzes and promoting the benefits of vaccination, and taking an equitable approach to reach vulnerable people and communities. It’s never too late to take measures to keep people healthy and safe.”
The Auditor General also found that almost half of southern Ontario’s remaining wetlands are at risk of being lost, the government has been MIA on confronting urban flooding risks, and that there is no environmental monitoring of the Niagara Escarpment. These revelations come as the Ford government plows ahead with a scheme to carve up environmentally sensitive Greenbelt lands.
“Doug Ford’s attack on the environment just keeps hitting new lows,” said Tabuns. “People are becoming less and less safe as Mr. Ford increases the risk of flooding by letting his buddies bulldoze environmentally sensitive lands, while simultaneously refusing to address urban flooding risks.”
Other key concerns for the NDP flagged by the Auditor General include:
- high auto insurance rates
- the politicization of highway projects resulting in the neglect of Northern Ontario needs
- poor oversight at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation
“We should be tackling the high cost of auto insurance, not letting companies gouge drivers like the government has,” said Tabuns. “We should be investing in Northern Ontario’s needs, not neglecting them.
“Ontarians are paying the price for the Ford government’s refusal to act on and invest in critical areas like the environment and public health. We should be taking steps to make people more healthy and more safe, not less.”