Premier Doug Ford sat down with Global News on Wednesday for a one-on-one interview in which he spoke about a range of issues, including his government’s offer to large municipalities and school boards across the province to help audit their finances.
On Tuesday, Ford announced a $7.35-million audit fund to help find “efficiencies.” The move was criticized by many local leaders, including Toronto Mayor John Tory.
“This appears to be a $7-million public relations exercise by the Government of Ontario,” Tory said in a statement Tuesday.
Tory also demanded the premier reverse a decision to cut city funding.
“City Council has been clear that the Province of Ontario must reverse the $177.65 million dollars in unilateral, retroactive cuts to the City of Toronto’s 2019 Budget,” Tory continued. “Council’s near-unanimous request is made in order to ensure that we do not have to cut services or raise taxes further this year.”
When asked if he would consider Tory’s request, Ford refused, saying, “When my brother, when he was mayor and we felt the same thing from the Liberals, when they downloaded some items on us, we had to find some efficiencies and we did.
“The question I have for the people sitting at the dinner table tonight or on the couch is: ‘Do you find one per cent savings in your family or two per cent?’ They do it all the time. A bloated government like the City of Toronto, when they’ve increased their budget by 40 per cent in the last five years? They can easily find it.”
Ford said Toronto, despite Tory’s complaints, is not treated unfairly.
“Furthest from the truth, I go into the rural areas and they’re telling me I favouritize Toronto,” Ford said. “I don’t know if the mayor forgot about a month ago or maybe six weeks ago, we’re building a $28.5-billion transit system mostly in Toronto. Some are for the GTA, but mostly for Toronto.”
Ford also weighed in on the Financial Accountability Office’s (FAO) spring report which found the province will need to find an additional $6 billion in savings to meet their target of eliminating the deficit over five years.
“We’re going to do it reasonably and thoughtfully and responsibly as we did with the budget,” Ford said. “We could have went out there, and I know the people from the far-right said we didn’t cut enough and the people from the far-left said we cut too much so we’re down the centre and we’re going to be responsible over the next five years to balance.”
When asked if he would ever consider raising taxes to spur revenue growth, Ford said, “That’s completely out of the question. People are tired of being gouged and we don’t need to.”
Ford blamed Liberal mismanagement for what his government says is an $11.7-billion deficit.
“We’re mortgaging the future of our children and grandchildren if we keep spending money, and that’s what they previous government did for 15 years.”
Ford also tackled growing public outrage of cuts to programs.
During a ceremony in Toronto on May 14 for the 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games, Ford was booed by some in the crowd.
“Well, let’s put that into perspective there,” Ford said. “I was a little disappointed and it was disingenuous at the Special Olympics. There was teams from all over North America that didn’t know me from the U.S.; there was people from around the province and around the country. And then there was a bunch of schools that came in with schoolteachers and I knew what was gonna happen. It wasn’t the kids booing, it was the schoolteachers.”
Earlier this week at the ‘Collision’ technology conference in Toronto, a repeat of what happened during the Special Olympics event. Ford was once again booed as he took the stage.
“… When I go out to the people and I go to the factories and I go to the offices the economy is booming right now. We created the environment for over 170,000 new jobs. The province has never seen so many jobs created under any government like we’ve created it.”
When asked if he was concerned about reception at both events, Ford said, “I listen to the real people at the back of the factories.”
When pushed on whether or not the people in the crowd were ‘real’ Ford said, “Well the real people that never voted for me in the first place, because they were so proud to text me that like the one guy that was shouting at me and screaming last night. They won’t vote for me now and they won’t vote for me in a hundred years.
“But these are the same people that have their hands in the public trough that have been getting money from the public, hard-working people, in the back of factories, in the offices, small business owners. It’s not sustainable. You can’t keep going the way we’re going.”
Earlier this month Niagara West PC MPP Sam Oosterhoff told a group of anti-abortion protestors on the grounds of Queen’s Park, “We have survived 50 years of abortion in Canada and we pledge to fight to make abortion unthinkable in our lifetime.”
Ford released a statement later that day saying his government would not reopen the debate over abortion, however despite being asked repeatedly about Oosterhoff’s comments has not addressed them.
Global News asked the Premier about the comments and also if he is pro-choice, Ford did not directly answer saying, “I’ll make it very clear, I’m not touching that issue. I’m not touching that issue, we’re gonna leave the abortion issue the way it is.”
WATCH: Doug Ford responds to questions about being booed at 2019 Special Olympics Ontario Invitational Youth Games