Empowering Ontarians where they live

We need to empower people to make choices that work for them, where they are.

A theme that came up repeatedly in my conversations with Ontarians is a feeling of being “stuck” and of lacking options. They feel that they, and their communities, are affected by big global forces from climate change to automation to the opioid crisis, but they don’t have the means to respond. They want to enter the workforce, but lack the transportation needed to get there. They want to reduce their carbon footprint, but lack affordable ways of doing so. They want to return to work after having children, but lack childcare options that make it possible.

Too many Ontarians also believe that political participation has no real effect on what happens to them and their communities. They see political leaders come up with high-level ideas that aim to address issues that we collectively face across the province. But the exact same implementation of even a brilliant policy rarely makes sense in downtown Toronto AND Sarnia AND Attawapiskat. 

Ontario is a province of very different places and experiences: that’s what makes us great. We can harness that fully when we recognize that communities are best positioned to implement solutions that make sense in their context.

Politics is not about taking power: it’s about giving power. Local leaders should shape the way that we operationalize provincial policy. Provincial politicians don’t always need to be experts, but they should be enablers and convenors: when people are doing good things, it should be their job to clear a path and create conditions for them to keep doing it, right where they are. When the right people aren’t working together, it should be their job to bring them together to work on local solutions. This is the case on issues from transportation to healthcare to education.

Ontarians should also have a choice about how our democracy works, and how it can work better, including how they vote in their government.

Our two metrics for success

Ontario currently lacks the data needed to know how well we are performing. We commit to partnering with the international agencies that collect this data for other jurisdictions, so Ontarians can know how well the province, and their government measures up.

Having a say in government: The OECD measures “having a say in government” through responses to the following statement: “People like me don’t have any say in what the government does.” On this measure, Canada lags behind many countries, including Denmark, Sweden, the United States and New Zealand. We would work with the OECD to collect this data at a provincial level.

Freedom of choice and control: The World Values Survey (WVS) measures “freedom of choice and control” through responses to the following question: "Some people feel they have completely free choice and control over their lives, while other people feel that what they do has no real effect on what happens to them. Please use this scale where 1 means "no choice at all" and 10 means "a great deal of choice" to indicate how much freedom of choice and control you feel you have over the way your life turns out." The WVS does not collect data for Canada or Ontario; we would work with them to collect this data.