Editorial: More doing and less studying needed

Canadians are facing a number of worrying problems, both short and long term. Those problems affect everything from housing affordability and availability, to food insecurity and high prices. Health care is beyond its breaking point with substantial wait lists for new family doctors, and long wait times at our understaffed emergency rooms. Some Long-Term Care Home projects remain at a stand still, and while building new homes is a priority – there are bottlenecks, because of a long-standing shortage of qualified people working in the construction trades. To add to the concerns, there is a constant feedback loop of studying and reporting ad nauseam on issues by various levels of government – without substantive action being undertaken. What is needed is tangible work and progress.

All these problems need grand – and in some cases – creative solutions. But in all honesty, making a few small steps in the right direction would go a long way to alleviating at least some short and mid-term effects. Instead of studying, or holding “stakeholder meetings,” those with the authority to create solutions should show some leadership and do so. More specifically, here local government needs to start doing more, and studying less. For example, the new 17-unit housing expansion at Morris Glen Court was announced in November 2022. One year later construction hasn’t commenced. Meanwhile in Cornwall, an entire 77-unit housing project was completed in two years.

Last June, the city asked South Dundas officials to sign-off on municipal properties to be used for mid-to-long term (5-10 years) community housing. This was discussed by council, then deferred for possible public consultation. The silence is deafening.

Still in South Dundas, one year into this four year council term, the process of creating a strategic plan is just getting underway. Unlike during other terms of council, creation of this plan will be behind closed doors. SDG Counties just finished its strategic plan – also one year into its four year term – but that process took place in an open public forum. Our health care system continues to fail, yet municipal doctor recruitment appears to have gone by the wayside for now. Locally, none of these issues have openly appeared before council, even though there are municipal components and actions that can be taken. The inaction is overwhelming.

Playing the self-interest game, looking after their own buddies/supporters, has already burned one government ministry. Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing not only undid the special developer deals that then Minister Steve Clark and cabinet signed off on in Toronto’s Greenbelt. Monday, the ministry reversed all changes to urban boundaries in cities like Ottawa, Peterborough and Hamilton that were made at the same time. Solving these problems should not include personal benefits for political friends. These actions have left this ministry in shambles when we need them the most.

Government is not the solution to all problems in life. But when levels of government with prescribed roles unacceptably continue to fail to act on these problems, while many are suffering the ill-effects of that inaction, voter tolerance will run out.

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