In the strange political landscape that is Canada, provincial politics plays as big of a role in governance as federal politics. The way in which the federalist system is divided gives huge leeway to provincial governments in discretion for governing various aspects of our everyday lives. To Canadians, this is nothing new. For other Canadians who are more used to seeing a “centralized” form of government (like myself), this makes the whole concept of governance a bit of a headache.
It doesn’t take long, however, to note the special status that Ontario holds among the provinces. Long considered the most “developed” part of Canada (and trust me, I am using ‘developed’ in the loosest form possible), it has always been known as the ‘have-all’ province: economic wealth, prosperity, growth, development, etc. You name it, and Ontario’s got it.
That’s why Ontario has always been the centre of provincial attention. And when Ontario’s embattled premier Dalton McGuinty stepped down after almost 10 years at the helm of the province, it sent shock-waves throughout the system.
I remember hearing many analysts jump on the effect that this not-so-grateful exit will have on Mr. McGuinty’s legacy. The fact is, Mr. McGuinty had already solidified a memorable legacy in the province, leading it through one of the more troubling economic times in recent memory. Regardless of what many people remember about his departure (whether it’s the seemingly insurmountable deficit and debt load the province faces, or the indefinite prorogation of legislature), his efforts in reforming the Ontario education system have reserved for him a place in the history books. After introducing developments like half-day and full-day kindergarten, the effect on empowering women to get back into the workforce certainly showed a commitment to women’s rights and equality in the workplace.
But my reservations regarding Mr. McGuinty’s legacy stem from the state of long-term care in this province. Personally, I have seen the effects of shortages in long-term care providers, and the effect that this shortage has on parents with disabled adult children. I cannot imagine the fear that results from thinking about what will happen to your disabled son or daughter if you were to fall ill or die, and this is one area where I truly believe the government has a major role to play. I must admit, I am not fully informed about Mr. McGuinty’s policies and work in resolving this problem, but it seems to me like there’s something major missing in this regard. As someone who has personally seen people I know struggle with this reality, there’s a bitter taste in my mouth regarding Mr. McGuinty’s legacy, and I hope that he at least realizes this as he steps down from Ontario’s political stage.
This video sort of highlights the effects of Mr. McGuinty’s policies in long-term care services. I can’t say that the people I know suffered in the same regard, but the same fears and frustrations are there. Take a look: