Blizzard

Food gift card campaign thrown together to make Wynne look good

By Christina Blizzard, Special to the Sun

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne delivers supplies to residents near Danforth Ave. in Toronto on Monday December 30, 2013. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne delivers supplies to residents near Danforth Ave. in Toronto on Monday December 30, 2013. (Dave Abel/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

There are two kinds of math at work in the chaotic gift card program thrown together by Premier Kathleen Wynne and the brain trust in her office.

As a math-challenged journalist, I’ll hand over the calculations to an accountant reader, who e-mailed me some startling numbers.

Those who lost power and food in the pre-Christmas ice storm were promised gift cards to the value of either $100 per family or $50 for an individual. Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro, Shoppers Drug Mart are among the supporters of the program. They’ll donate $25,000 each — to be matched by the province.

“I’m not sure how a situation where two or more unrelated individuals sharing a house/apartment is being handled,” my reader pointed out.

“There was a report that 300,000 households were impacted by the power outages resulting from the ice storm,” he said.

“If 66% of those households affected claim, and they’re evenly split between family and individual, that will mean 200,000 gift cards at an average of $75 per card — that will amount to $15 million.”

The government states that it will match donations up to $100,000.

“We are short approximately $14.8 million. Will we expect to see this on our hydro bill in the coming months?” he asked.

He said, and I agree, that this is another example of the Liberal Party campaigning on our dollar.

And it’s shameful.

The political calculus in this is quite simple.

This campaign was thrown together on the back of a napkin to make Wynne look good.

Frankly, I found the photo-op of her going door-to-door with baskets of food extremely distasteful.

Canadians used to be hardy, resilient people who overcame ice storms and other natural disasters with moxie — and a little help from their friends.

Not anymore. Now we look to Premier Mom to solve every problem.

This gift card program was rolled out so quickly and with such little thought it was bound to fail.

The government told people they could get money for free — and then were surprised when droves of people showed up to fight their way to the front of the line.

Those most in need didn’t have a chance of getting the money.

How could a frail senior line up for hours? Most of them can’t even get out of their houses in this -20C weather. How could a mother with children in tow elbow her way through the crowds?

The gift cards should have gone to the working poor. People on welfare or disability allowances should have had the money tacked on to their government cheque at the end of the month.

Or the government should have used agencies that do this for a living — like the Salvation Army or Daily Bread Food Bank — to deliver the help.

Why didn’t they? Because they wanted Wynne front and centre — food baskets in hand — as the saviour of the people. When it went pear-shaped, she rolled out Public Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur to take the blame.

Only a Liberal government could turn peaceable citizens into marauding hordes.

Shopping malls became shopping mauls.

It became survival of the fittest — our very own Lord of the Flies.

How disgusting is it to watch people scrambling over each other for cash? Next time, let’s make it truly entertaining and have them wrestle in Jell-O.

Then again, if the government were really smart they’d give out LCBO gift cards.

I’d like to see an accounting at the end of this. I’m sure those stores can track what was bought with the gift cards. I want to know if they paid for cigarettes. Or makeup.

Where’s Piggy when you need him?


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