Why would the Province not act compassionately?
In the years since he has been Managing Editor of the Mississauga News, I have dealt respectfully and professionally with Gerry Timbers, and in return, I have been treated fairly by our local paper. That’s not to say we agree; we sometimes don’t. And I met with Gerry to disagree strongly with the paper’s editorial on food cards in its January 8th issue.
I responded to the Mississauga News editorial, and I think my letter will be printed. Here is what I said in response:
Letter to the Editor
The editorial in the January 8 edition of the Mississauga News on food cards reads like a repetition of schoolyard hearsay. The talk radio shows and other media may be full of simplistic right-wing slogans. It’s said that for every complex and difficult problem, there is a solution that is simple, obvious and wrong! We expect our own newspaper to verify its facts before pronouncing judgment on Ontario’s response to the December ice storm.
Why should “not a cent of public money” have gone toward helping the poor, the elderly, or those on social assistance when the major damage most of them had suffered in the ice storm power outages was spoiled food? Governments set aside reserve funds for exactly such compassionate purposes. Your suggestion that only the private sector ought to have responded, and food banks with no idea who was or was not affected, nor any means of assessing who was or was not eligible ought to have been the distribution agents is unworkable PC Party rubbish!
The private sector contributed food cards only because the Province organized it, and leveraged public money with private funds. PC governments of the past didn’t respond during power outages when people needed help. Peel Region only had the grocery cards because the Province organized a response without precedent within days, and during the Christmas holidays at that. Take an editorial position that no good deed ought to go unpunished if you wish, but make it an original Mississauga one, and not a comment influenced by Tea Party slogans. Readers deserved better on this occasion.
The Mississauga ice storm reality
Enersource’s briefing is worth quoting. Here are some highlights. Mississauga’s first power outage was at 12:26 a.m. on Sunday December 22nd, when trees made contact with a 44kV primary line out of Churchill Meadows substation, taking 9,100 customers out of service. Trees and branches falling on primary and secondary wires, along with transformers failing caused more outages.
Enersource focused first on public safety, then on the biggest power outages. Damage was widespread, and extra crews and supervisors were called in. By Monday December 23rd at 3:30 p.m., there were 12 areas without power affecting 500 customers. On Christmas Eve, additional trees broke, and there were 1,000 customers out of power for a time. For a few hours, some areas in Streetsville were without power. It was quickly restored.
Enersource crews continued to work 16-hour days through the Christmas break, and restored power to Mississauga homes during this time. From December 27th to 29th, available linemen were sent to Hydro One Brampton to assist with storm damage. Enersource estimates the cost for restoration and cleanup due to the ice storm at just more than $1 million.
To qualify for food cards
Eligible recipients for food cards had to live in areas that had been without power for 48 continuous hours. This does not appear to have been the case in Mississauga. As well, eligible recipients needed to have been of limited financial means, and to have lost food due to spoilage through the power outage.