Letters to Editor

Sexist Article in the paper

Hi Mike,

Please consider this for the Letters to the Editor section of the next edition of Springwater News. For verification, my ph# is 705-322-xxxx.

I just learned a new term. "'1661' is slang for an older woman who dresses in young women's clothes. The sexist male term comes from the observation that some women look 16 years old from the back but 61 years old from the front." Apologies to readers for reprinting this "joke", but it seems important to quote it, as it helps to give my criticism same context.

I was disappointed that the Editor ran this anti-woman 1661 "joke" the first time (Edition 509, page 20, 2017-11-30), and angered when he ran it again in the following issue (Edition 510, page 24, 2017-12-14). I admit there will always be something that tickles the brain when words and concepts are twisted in unexpected ways, even if they're impolite or mean-spirited. In my opinion, this one is cruel, as it would be aimed at exactly half of our ageing neighbours and family members, were they to choose to invigorate their appearance. 

That choice to dress more youthfully is not unlike how ageing men can invigorate themselves by driving a large pickup truck, or growing an epic beard. But in men's case, the commentary is largely congratulatory (as if a purchase, or a decision to stop shaving, could somehow be manly). 

Like many modern societies, we glorify youth. In doing so, we also glorify youthfulness; just look south at a 72-year-old president with not-grey-but-golden hair -- and whose girth has filled out many of the laugh lines we ageing people earn -- for a sense of the glory to be gleaned by appearing youthful. 

Or should I say, the glory a man can glean. When an ageing woman buys into our cultural BS and tries to appear youthful, but fails because she doesn't have an actor's tens - or hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to spend on the endeavour, we mock and belittle her with "jokes" like 1661. I wish we were better than this.

Wm Brian MacLean, Elmvale

Editor’s comment - In the paper, it was exactly as mentioned. This is a sexist male term. It is a term not worth repeating and to emphasize it, I allowed it to run twice in the Springwater News. My apologies to anyone that took it as anything other than a male racist comment not to be repeated.


2018 Springwater Township Budget

As a resident of Springwater, I do not support the Springwater 2018 Budget. The County of Simcoe passed a budget increase of 1.04%. The Springwater Budget increase is 2.99%. The council should have developed a budget reflective of the cost of living. I do wish more residents would express concerns in regard to the yearly increases in our taxes. The 2.99% increase is the largest increase in four years.

I am strongly opposed to the borrowing of $4.8 million to help fund capital projects. I opposed the previous council over the same issue of borrowing money. I also disagree with the use of future money to be collected from development charges related to possible future development.

Development charges collected to fund capital projects in the present is a risky venture. How will future councils deal with the costs related to new development when the development charges have been used to fund present projects in Springwater? There is also the risk of economic slow down with decreased home sales and a loss of development charges.

My next concern is related to the 25% increase in the library budget. I listened to their budget presentation in 2017. They expressed many positive requests and changes to their hours of being open for service to Springwater residents. Springwater Council did not support these requests because of the costs related to the 2017 budget and taxpayers of Springwater.

I attended their presentation during the budget items related to the 2018 budget. This time Council accepted their requests. The library should have received some of their requests in 2017 to help lessen the 25% increase in spending. We may see further increases as some members on council desire the same per person funding as in Barrie.

I must remind council that Springwater is largely supported by residential taxes. We have limited commercial / industrial tax support. Some members on council desire to compare Springwater to other municipalities in their spending. A comparison to Barrie regarding services is misleading. Barrie has a larger population, many commercial developments, numerous small businesses and industrial related activities to help fund service and capital projects.

To end, we see all government levels whether Federal, Provincial or Municipal continue to borrow money to provide essential and non-essential capital projects. I feel that Springwater Council should only be looking at essential projects and not use borrowed money for non-essential projects.

John Hawthorne, Springwater Resident


Spending Taxes and Future Development Charges

This being the last budget before the election, I was somewhat shocked that most of this Springwater Council decided to increase taxes. I can totally understand a “cost of living” rate but not over that. Reigning in expenses should have been top priority for the residents of Springwater.

When we had a Town Hall Meeting at the Anten Mills Hall, it was our time to be heard. They had mason jars set up. We were given “Monopoly Money” and were asked to place the monopoly money in the labelled jars. They asked us to place the money into the jars we felt needed funding via taxation. I watched the jars fill. The jar with the majority of the money went into the “Roads” jar. Yet, during the budget meeting this did not happen. The majority of the tax increase of 90% went to the library.

So, what was the point of the mason jars? This action was the action where we had some control. At least, that is what I thought. I was wrong. The mason jars were a gesture with a “limited” effect.

The Council also passed to build and maintain a splash pad in Elmvale. This project will create an unknown expense to manage, control and insure. It’s a seasonal venture located within 20 km to Wasaga Beach, Allenwood Beach, Kempenfelt Bay which has a water feature park etc. This decision is not one that should have been done so hastily. More research and use of future development charges is “risky business”.

I ask this Council, “Is there any township with 19,000 population that has a splash pad?

Let me add, I certainly do not begrudge this unknown expense venture. My total concern is the safety and the unforeseen burden it could place onto tall Springwater Residents.

With heart, Donna Hawthorne, Anten Mills.


Gerry Marshall, Simcoe North Liberal Candidate, responds to MPP Patrick Brown’s recent householder comments about our area

I get the in’s and out’s of politics. I get that opposition parties spend most of their time in red-faced moments criticizing the party in power, howling that all is wrong with the world—and how things would be so different if only they were in power. While I understand this, I believe when criticism crosses a line into untruths, it needs to be called out, especially when it does damage.

Our MPP recently sent out his WINTER 2018 brochure. The headline reads “IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED TO BRING JOBS TO SIMCOE COUNTY AND ONTARIO.” The article closes with “let’s bring jobs back to Simcoe County!“ The article infers our area lacks good jobs and that businesses and investors are shying away from Simcoe North and Simcoe County.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The article makes me wonder if our MPP is so disconnected from our riding he has lost track of all the good things happening in our area. Maybe he simply doesn’t care whom gets crushed in his pursuit to be Premier. His article hurts, diminishes and undermines the excellent efforts of every Mayor, Councillor, Economic development officer, business and community leader involved in championing the economic causes of our communities. To be blunt, the article is an unwarranted slap in the face to our area and does much harm.

As a local mayor and warden I know with absolute certainty that our area is one the most active, popular and growing economic areas, not only in Ontario, but across Canada. The County is one of the fastest growing areas in all of Canada.

Just look at the year-in-review comments across our communities--

MIDLAND has never had so much summer fun as they did in 2017. They were treated to the Butter Tart Festival, the Big Yellow Duck, RibFest, Feast Fest, ZuchiniMani and Tugfest. The town staff are already planning for more next year.

2017 saw 15 cruise ship visits to Midland and they are taking a lead role with the province to develop a long term strategy that will keep the cruise ships coming to Midland and North Simcoe for years to come.

On the economic development front, investments by the Towns of Midland, Penetanguishene and the Townships of Tiny and Tay in the Economic Development Corporation of North Simcoe (EDCNS) and in our local economy continue to pay off. Though the leadership of EDCNS our manufacturers are now actively collaborating on common challenges—in particular, the hiring of skilled staff. This past year saw over 100 individuals placed with our local companies. As a consolidated group, our manufacturers are looking to hire 200 more! And Streit Manufacturing recently moved into the vacant Pillsbury site; they are not only hiring for current needs but are already planning for a phase 2 launch that will lead to more hires.

Midland’s improving economy is reflected in their retail stores and their downtown. Mountainview Mall is looking more and more prosperous.

ORILLIA saw a record-breaking year for housing starts and development. The city was identified this summer as the FIFTH best place in Canada to invest. The New Costco is second to none and thriving,

Orillia’s biggest challenge in 2018 will be how they manage demand & growth.

BARRIE is experiencing the best economy they have seen in 10 years! The number of companies announcing growth is unprecedented. Unemployment is perhaps the lowest in all of Canada at less than 4%. Job Fairs see more jobs than people to fill them!

Barrie’s growth is seen in all sectors – manufacturing, retail, production, web development and the service sectors!

PENETANGUISHENE in the past 12 months has issued 23.5 million dollars in construction permits; 2017 has been the busiest year ever for new home construction. A significant investment by Shoppers Drug Mart sees a new 10,000 square foot store being built. Long-standing vacant properties in their industrial areas are now sold.

The COUNTY OF SIMCOE is averaging growth of more than 2,800 new jobs per year. The County has received endorsement from the federal and provincial governments as a major economic Canadian player and is now invited to participate in international opportunity pursuits.

County staff pursued AMAZON and received great interest from American and international investors and businesses during a recent Chicago excursion.

The County has not one, not two, but over 70 active investment files and the phone is still ringing. The biggest economic issue moving forward will be how to keep up with the demand!.

Tourism has never been better—with 9 million annual visitors spending greater than a billion dollars per year in our local stores, resorts, businesses and markets.

Good things are happening in Simcoe North and Simcoe County. The outlook over the next few years is nothing but positive.

I get politics, I truly do. Yet our MPP was prepared to sacrifice Simcoe North for political gain when he fought against the Big Yellow Duck coming to Midland last summer. The Duck drew crowds of seventy thousand plus and resulted in millions of dollars in spending in our local retail stores.

Now it appears that our MPP is willing to badmouth this riding and our entire area in order to score political points.

Our area deserves better and this is just one of many reasons that I am running to be your MPP. As MPP I will, as I have done in my roles as mayor and warden, highlight our strengths and successes and support the efforts of local businesses and municipalities who work hard to make Simcoe North and Simcoe County great places to live in, to work in, and to visit.


Province Expanding Residential Services For Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Ontario is investing in repairs, renovations and improved living spaces at residential properties across the province that serve adults with developmental disabilities.

This funding, delivered through the Multi-Year Residential Planning Strategy, will help approximately 66 people with developmental disabilities by improving existing living spaces and creating more capacity, helping to reduce waitlists for residential services and supports across the province.

Residential supports for adults with developmental disabilities provide people with an accessible, safe and comfortable home and connect them to health and social services. These supports and services also encourage people to stay active and engaged with family, friends, and their community.

Expanding residential supports for adults with developmental disabilities is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is investing $3 million to conduct repairs and upgrades at the residential properties of developmental service providers across the province through the Multi-Year Residential Planning Strategy.
  • This investment will create additional residential capacity and improved living spaces for approximately 66 people with developmental disabilities in agencies across Ontario.
  • The Multi-Year Residential Planning strategy is being used to deliver part of the province’s $677 million investment over four years in community and developmental services as announced in Budget 2017.
  • Through the Multi-Year Residential Planning strategy, a total of $5 million has been invested since 2016/17.
  • Ontario provides funding for residential supports for more than 18,000 adults with developmental disabilities.
  • Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, public transit, roads and bridges in the province’s history. To learn more about what’s happening in your community, go to Ontario.ca/BuildON.


Paikin, Wynne & Couillard discuss Quebec water power

Why hasn’t Ontario signed a deal for power purchases from Quebec? That was the question host Steve Paikin asked the premiers of Canada’s two most populous provinces during the Mowat Centre’s Confederation of Tomorrow 2.0 conference held just before the holidays.

Paikin pointed out that the Ontario Clean Air Alliance continues to push Ontario to choose low-cost water power from Quebec over high cost nuclear rebuilds, and he pressed the Premiers for a response.

Premier Wynne waffled, acknowledging that Quebec has plenty of power to spare, yet defended her decision to spend tens of billions rebuilding old reactors as the “responsible” choice.

Wynne however failed to explain what exactly is “responsible” about keeping a 46-year-old nuclear station operating in the heart of our largest urban area, or how rebuilding aging reactors at three-times the cost of importing water power is good fiscal management. But she did insist that any deal with Quebec “has to be a good deal.” That is a responsible standard her government clearly isn’t applying to nuclear rebuilds.

For his part, Quebec Premier Couillard was very clear that he would welcome a deal with Ontario, noting that “We have huge amounts of power available” and adding “we don’t need to build new dams,” busting two myths beloved by nuclear special interests.

On the bright side, Premier Wynne noted that “Actually, I think we’re in the throes of working on another [deal with Quebec]. I am not adverse in any way.” 

For the sake of Ontario’s beleaguered electricity consumers, let’s hope Premier Wynne’s New Year’s resolutions include a strong commitment to getting that deal done.

You can watch the full interview. Skip to the 25 minute mark to listen to the power import discussion.

Please email Premier Wynne and ask her to negotiate a deal with Quebec which will lower our electricity bills by reducing our dependency on high-cost nuclear power.

Thank you.

 -Angela Bischoff, Outreach Director


Trump tax cuts could spell trouble for Canada

by Aaron Wudrick, Federal Director  Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once remarked that Canada’s relationship with the United States was like sleeping next to an elephant: “No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Well, forget twitches and grunts. With the biggest tax cut in decades being signed into law south of the border, the elephant is about to start doing somersaults in the bed – and if our own politicians don’t take action, the Canadian economy could end up getting squashed.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday, lowers the tax rate on high income earners and expands the child tax credit for families, among other things. But the centrepiece is the single largest business tax reduction in American history, dropping the federal rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent beginning in 2018.

Policy wonks south of the border will debate the pros and cons of the bill, which will see taxes go down for the vast majority of Americans. But from a Canadian standpoint, we should be focused on what it means for our country’s tax competitiveness.

Previously, Canada could boast about lower business taxes: the Canadian average combined federal-provincial rate of 26.7 per cent, compared favourably to an American average combined federal-state rate of 39.1 per cent. That advantage is now history: with passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the new average American rate is just 26 per cent.

Worse still, the Trudeau government is heading in the opposite direction on taxes generally: while it recently resurrected a promise to lower taxes for small business, the general rate is unchanged. It has promised a national carbon tax in 2018, scheduled a payroll tax hike beginning in 2019to pay for higher Canada Pension Plan contributions, and even introduced an automatic tax escalator on alcohol.

While the government did cut income taxes last year, one study suggested that the average Canadian family was actually paying an additional $840 in taxes. With spending slated to jump a whopping 21 per cent by the end of the Trudeau government’s third year in power, there’s little appetite in Ottawa these days for big tax cuts.

Faced with the new American reality, this is cause for concern. Why invest in Canada and pay higher taxes when you can invest next door and pay less? This is especially true when competing for foreign investment.

Last year, even before any big American tax cuts, the Trudeau government’s own Advisory Council on Economic Growth noted that foreign direct investment (FDI) is “a critical driver of economic growth” and observed that Canada was “falling behind” in securing FDI.

It’s not as if Canada can count on other advantages to mitigate being competitive on taxes; regulatory uncertainty, for example, helped kill large projects such as Energy East.

President Trump regularly leans on American companies to invest more at home – a big problem for us considering American companies currently account for half of all FDI in Canada. Add a tax cut to that political pressure, and it could mean potentially big job losses as businesses head across the border and divert new investment stateside.

Even setting aside foreign investment, Canada has long suffered off and on from a brain drain of our best and brightest to the U.S. This is especially true when it comes to “innovative” industries like technology, which has precisely the types of jobs Canadian governments trip over themselves to cultivate

But good luck convincing entrepreneurial Canadians to stay behind with red tape and high taxes, when they could move to start a new business in a much more favourable environment. There’s only so much corporate welfare to go around. And Canadian investors will want to get in on the action as well, taking a pass on investments at home in favour of better returns down south.

Simply put, Canada’s current tax policy leaves us as sitting economic ducks. Our politicians need to move quickly, and start thinking of ways to keep Canadian tax levels competitive with our American counterparts.


Free Prescription Medications for Everyone Under 25

Prescription medications are now free for everyone under the age of 25 in Ontario. As of January 1, the province has made the biggest expansion to Medicare in Ontario in a generation, providing drug coverage to over four million children and youth across the province. The launch of OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare is a national milestone as Ontario becomes the first province to provide prescription drug coverage to children and youth.

Premier Kathleen Wynne was in downtown Toronto to celebrate this national milestone with some of the young people and parents who now have access to over 4,400 medicines, completely free of charge. Some of the now publicly funded prescriptions include depression and anxiety medications, insulin and diabetic test strips, antibiotics, asthma inhalers and birth control pills.

This expansion of Medicare marks a turning point for Ontario families, who now have access to life-saving drugs without having to worry about affordability. Coverage will be automatic for children and youth with an OHIP card and a valid prescription. There will be no upfront costs, no co-pays and no strings attached.

The launch of OHIP+ is just one of the historic ways Ontario has changed with the new year. The government's plan to build a fairer, better province also includes a raise to the minimum wage to $14 an hour, effective January 1. The minimum wage will further increase to $15 per hour as of January 1, 2019.

Ontario's plan is creating fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is the first province to provide prescription medication coverage at no cost for all children and youth under 25 who are OHIP-insured.
  • An estimated 1.2 million people in Ontario without drug coverage will benefit from OHIP+. This is according to a recent report by the Conference Board of Canada that estimates a drop from 13.2 per cent to four per cent in the number of people not currently eligible for drug coverage under a public or private insurance plan in Ontario.
  • OHIP+ covers prescription medications listed on the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary and additional medications eligible for funding through the Exceptional Access Program and prescribed by a doctor or nurse practitioner.
  • Ontario’s public drug programs already help to pay for needed prescription medications for seniors, people with high drug costs and other vulnerable populations. It marks one of the many ways the Ontario government is leading a national discussion on the future shape of pharmacare in Canada.
  • Increasing the minimum wage is part of the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017, which responds to the final report of the Changing Workplaces Review. The report estimated that more than 30 per cent of Ontario workers were in precarious work in 2014. Today part-time work represents nearly 20 per cent of total employment.

Since the global recession, more than 800,000 net new jobs have been created in Ontario. By 2020, Ontario is expected to create over 200,000 more net new jobs. The unemployment rate in Ontario is currently at a 17-year low.