Hutchinson Responds to McCleary


Sara McCleary wants to hear from people who voted for the current Progressive Conservative Provincial Government. She penned a column for  Sault This Week asking why they voted P.C. and if they are doing the best for the province and Sault Ste Marie.

McCleary asked for responses to be posted on her professional Facebook page (@SaraMcClearySault) You can read Sara’s column here.

Local resident Winona Hutchinson and proud P.C. voter sent her response to Saultonline which we have posted below.

Moves by the Province that helped Sault Ste Marie: (a response to my friend Sara McCleary and SaultThisWeek post)  

So to start – Yes Sarah I did vote for the Progressive Conservative Party and I am still glad I did.  Why?  Probably for the very reasons you claim that you don’t like. (Quotes taken directly from her post).

1.    “I know this request sounds snarky, but I’m totally serious —if you can do it without resorting to insults, please explain it to me. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to see both sides of an argument; I frequently play devil’s advocate in conversations with my husband. But I just can’t manage it with most of Doug Ford’s decisions — I don’t understand how anyone in the Sault can believe they’re for the best”

Unfortunately, this comes across as a veiled attempt at open honest communication and may fall a little short.  To truly work together we need to stop being so oppositional and start working together.  If we truly want to have our government listen to us then we need to stop insulting each other.  Starting a piece with “I know this request sounds snarky” does not give the impression of partnership only insult.  A lesson many of us have had to learn.

2.  “Take, for example, Bill 47 — the bill that reversed most of the recent changes to the Employment Standards Act and froze the minimum wage at $14 an hour. Let’s completely ignore the minimum wage part of that one — even if I don’t agree with it, I can wrap my head around the business owners’ arguments there.

Instead let’s look at one specific detail of that bill: it once again allows employers to ask for medical notes for absences. So now imagine this: you come down with the flu and you have two options: go to work, risk being sick to your stomach at work, and spread the flu to others (who will then likely spread it to others and so on); or call in sick.

If you call in sick, your employer can now ask for a doctor’s note, so you go to the doctor’s office (or walk-in clinic, given the doctor shortage here in the Sault) where you spread the flu to a five-month-old baby who is too young to get a flu shot, along with three others on the bus you took to get there because you can’t afford a cab (you did, after all, just miss work the day before), then to cap it all off you have to spend $20 to $40 for a note.

I thought Doug Ford was going to make health care better and CUT wait times? That’s something we desperately need here in the Sault. But by my count, not only did Ford just send an extra body to a health care provider for a doctor to do what the employer could have (that is, trust that the patient had in fact been throwing up the day before), he also sent that baby to the ER and made three others miss a day of work each — and now THEY all need to go get doctor’s notes. Where is the logic in this?”

The logic you are needing is this… I can say as a Manager and someone who has had to sit on her hands while employees who are known and habitual offenders of calling in sick to avoid working on a sunny warm day, or perhaps just couldn’t get themselves out of bed in the morning to come to work because they were up gaming all night (true experiences) can make the running of the day to day operations, very difficult. This particular change I am wholeheartedly in agreement with.  Under the old rules, employers were unnecessarily subjected to restrictions in that we could not say anything or hold employees accountable, making it very difficult for us to run a business, like ensuring staffing levels are maintained and ensuring customer service standards are met.

The very same customer standards that you and everyone in this city expect.  Yes, I am aware that not all employees are like the few I mentioned over my many years but neither are the employees you describe.  Trust me when I say that we as Managers and Business Owners have much more pressing matters than to chase around employees for doctors notes unless they are a habitual offender and then yes, we must and should ask, that is just good business.

It can also be an effective tool to allow some employees who are struggling to have open and honest communication and perhaps work out a mutual plan with their employer.

As for the fear mongering of sick children etc, if an employer feels the need to ask for a note, it will be based entirely on the past behaviors of the employee and how often they are calling in sick. The very fact that the previous government felt the need to negate personal responsibility of an employee to their employer for their behavior choices and holding them accountable, in my opinion, was over reaching and these changes are great news for the business owners here in the Sault.

3. “By covering at-home treatments through OHIP, cancer patients would be at home rather than in a hospital room taking up additional resources and attention from doctors and nurses. And because cancer patients tend to have compromised immune systems, it would also help to prevent them from coming into contact with contagious patients and risking getting more sick themselves. Not to mention the fact that some cancer patients from the Sault have to travel to Sudbury for chemo, an expense that IS covered by OHIP.

The PCs are supposed to be the “fiscally responsible” party, so can someone please tell me the results of the cost-benefit analysis of rejecting this bill?”

I will not respond to this as this is 100% an emotionally charged issue and having a friend who has passed away from Cancer and another who shows so much bravery everyday I do not have the personal knowledge to respond nor will I.

4. “Wow, I could really go for a long time here, but let’s go with one last one. Health minister Christine Elliott cut $335 million in funding to mental health almost immediately upon the PCs taking power in the summer.

Oh, I have so much to say about this.

I’m running long, so let’s just go with this: we know we have a shortage of mental health services in the Sault — wait times to see a specialist typically run a year or more — and that many of those struggling then end up in ER or back to their GP. We also know we have an opioid crisis here, and that drug use and mental illness frequently go hand-in-hand. So it seems to me that investing in mental health services is a reasonable upstream investment that could help put an end to these cycles a lot sooner.”

This is one is kinda easy the 335M that they cut was a planned increase not something that is current so there is no layoffs or cuts to services happening because of this, if there is, its because the facility did not adequately fund their services.

The fact is Mr. Ford has announced the FIRST direct mental health and addictions funding, a $3.8 Billion dollar commitment and with it being direct funding then it is should not get lost amongst other programs.  This is more than the previous planned amount which averages $380 Million over 10 years.  This was in the works long before our Mayor penned his letter to Ross Romano just recently so the Conservative Party has proven once again that is very aware of the issues facing our province.

As for waiting for Mental Health Services here that is the direct result of failing to find doctors who want to move and live in the north.  That can be said for many specialties, I should know I travel to Toronto to see two of my specialists.   Sault Ste Marie with a population of approximately 70,000 cannot compare to the lure of the overpopulated larger centre that promise a lucrative career.  This has been addressed by City Council in the past. That is a reality facing not just our community but many northern/rural communities.

As for Opioid Crisis, yes we have one, as does the Country, and as you know, I am well versed in this area, but ask the many affected by addictions just how well our services are. I am still surprised by their stories.    What you may hear may surprise you, so before we go seeking money from the provincial government, which I agree with, we need to clean up our own services and really look at how effective we are before we start throwing money at something that doesn’t work very well.  But hey, I could really go on for a long time here.

Finally, I would also like to make one final point.  We have three levels of Government with specific roles, and our Provincial government was charged to make and had in fact made choices on what was in the best interest of a province as that is their role and what they were elected to do.

No matter what number you use $15B or $12B our provincial debt is absurd (don’t get me started on our Federal issues) and cuts have to happen that is the role of a responsible government, but in this case there is no cut only giving more directly to where it matters in my opinion. So yes, I am glad I voted for them, and yes I may not agree with everything (no one can be happy 100% of the time) not he whole I am pleased so far.  Let’s stop the emotional reactions and start working together.  Let’s find the common ground and use solution based responses.

Winona Hutchinson






  1. I dont care for Mr. Ford’s position on those with disabilities. If he has apologised or if I am mistaken then I respectfully recind my comment 🙂 Im an older adult on the spectrum and have 2 children on it as well. We are all VERY mildly on the spectrum. They don’t need EA’s or special devices. I am very very fortunate and vlessed and not a day goes by that I take that for granted. No one wants this for themselves, or someone they love, especially their children. I want to like Doug, but I have my nose pretty close to the grindstone with American politics and I see a few similarities there. Again, just my opinion.

    Merry Christmas everyone!
    Happy Holidays!
    Whichever tradition/faith/practice you practise (or don’t) 🙂

    Man being P.C. is tough in this day and age – don’t want to exclude anyone! 🙂

    • As a Political Correctness opposer I’m feeling a little left out Dad 🙂 G_d bless us, every one!

      Citizen Mark Brown

  2. Folks, what wynne’s liberals were doing just prior to the recent provincial election was throwing up a hail merry in hopes that enough gullible Ontario voters would fall for their outrageous promises and vote for them. And what Horwath’s ndp was doing was trying to outdo wynne and promised even more free tax dollars to the public with no concern for our DEFICIT and of course, our DEBT. Thank God the adults in the room have stepped up in the form of the Conservatives. Though I have issues with some of the antics of Premier Ford, again, thank God the Conservatives are in charge of this Province.
    In a normal world, the employer would only ask for a doctor’s note if the employee is a continuous absentee and calls in sick on a regular basis. In all this dialogue, we seem to ignore one very important point. The employer pays all the bills, the taxes, the wages….takes all the risks and can lose everything, as justin likes to say, on a dime. But, folks, the provincial and federal liberals & ndp live in a glass bubble, a make believe world, a world where business is the bad guy and the libs and ndp will fight them on every turn. Folks, those of you who have a budget, pay taxes, pay your bills to run your household responsibly or, if you don’t, you could lose everything. It’s you that understands what the Conservatives are trying to do. Folks, the interest on wynne’s DEBT is over $1 BILLION/month. Those of you who have responsibility in your own lives can best appreciate the tough decisions that the Conservatives are forced to make. There’s no choice here folks !!! As for the libs and the ndp…………….. just go back and play with justin in his sandbox. Seriously !!! Merry Christmas………… (and no, Mark, the employer should not be paying for the doctor’s note ).

    • Business is definitely not the bad guy. Like you said, Frank, businesses create work for people, and work is important for a whole host of reasons over and above being financially important for everyday living.

      But business is not always the good guy either, and it stems from the fact that business’ sole objective is to maximize profits, and rightfully so. Businesses should focus solely on the maximization of profits, and not on the welfare of people. Now, smart businesses treat their people like gold which invariably ends up adding to their bottom line, but, again, treating people fairly is not business’ responsibility.

      The responsibility of treating people fairly is the responsibility of the Government.

      There are numerous examples of businesses not always being the good guy because they are trying to maximize profits. For example:

      1) Jeopardizing the safety of employees to maximize profits,
      2( paying illegal immigrants in cash and treating them extremely poorly to maximize profits, and yes,
      3) taking otherwise good employees who are consistently and irregularly ill, and trying to get rid of them by making them get out of their sick-beds and go and wait in a doctor’s waiting room in order for the doctor to verify that, yes, they are ill, and make them pay $20 to get that doctor’s verification each time they take a sick day off (typically without pay), and potentially also pay for transportation to and from the doctor’s office (very likely if the ill peson doesn’t have a car because friends who give rides don’t usually have the time to sit around and wait for extended periods of time waiting for their ill friend to finish their doctor’s appointment) just because the sporadic nature of an otherwise good employee’s attendance at work can’t adequately be handled by the work scheduler, and, therefore, negatively affects the profits of the business,…

      That’s just to name a few of the examples of when businesses are not the good guys because they’re always trying to maximize profits.

      I like you as a person Frank. You are a good, kind, and generous man (especially with your opinions), but I can’t believe you are so mean with respect to truly ill employees and this doctor’s note issue to actually say, “no, Mark, the employer should not be paying for the doctor’s note [even though the ill person has to get out of their sick-bed and spend half the day getting proof of illness from the doctor]”

      The very least the employer can do, Frank, is pay for the proof they are asking for (i.e. the doctor’s note and transportation costs of getting the doctor’s note) from their otherwise good employees who happen to be ill on any given day.

      You see Frank when a person who frequently fakes being sick is asked for proof of sickness by their employer the person will have to alter their plans for the day, and go to the doctor, and the doctor will not give them a doctor’s note (if the doctor is doing their job properly) so the faker will not get reimbursed by the employer for their transportation costs or the non-existent doctor’s note.

      There’s zero cost to the employer for doctor’s notes from illness fakers. But it does get the employer critical documentation that the sickness faker was actually faking, and the employer can give the necessary verbal and written warnings the more it happens to get rid of the less-than-dedicated employee.

      In this case the business owner is protected by the government from unscrupulous employees.

      The only cost an employer would have to endure is when a person is truly ill, and the employer doesn’t believe they are truly ill, which never happens according to Winiona and you.

      Therefore, with this employer pays for doctor’s notes and transportation costs (receipts required), businesses are never out of pocket a single cent as long as they are not unscrupulously trying to constructively dismiss otherwise good workers who are having unfortunate, recurring, unpaid days of illness.

      And that’s exactly what governments are supposed to do…

      Protect people from unscrupulous actors… both unscrupulous employees, and unscrupulous business owners/managers in this particular case.

      I’m even more in love with this compromise solution that I previously was.

      Thank you, Frank, for your mean-spirited objection to having employers pay for doctor’s notes and transportation costs.

      Hopefully MPP Ross Romano demonstrates that he is a progressive Progressive Conservative who cares equally about employees and business owners by getting Doug Ford and the rest of his party to implement this awesome compromise solution.

      If Ross doesn’t get this solution passed into law it’ll just prove to everyone that Doug Ford’s party cares more about business profits (Conservative) than they care about people (Progressive Conservative).

  3. The false equivalency is that after Patrick Brown’s platform, there was no costed platform to vote for from the Ford run. Actually, any PC candidate that supported PB platform and then threw it under the bus for a DoFo fly by the seat of his pants non platform, should be seen as a hypocrite! And, no one voted for any of these ideas, except maybe buck a beer, that is now silly.

  4. Thank you for posing those questions Sara, and thank you for giving your answers Winona. Both of your sincere contributions helped me to form what I feel is a fantastic compromise solution when it comes to the doctor’s note topic.

    Compromise Solution: When an employer asks for a doctor’s note the employer pays for all costs associated with getting the doctor’s note. (transportation costs and doctor’s note costs) Receipts required.

    This helps employers to document workers who habitually say they are sick when they really aren’t so the employer can eventually fire the worker for cause, or get the worker to change their habit of calling in sick when they don’t feel like working. (N.B. Doctors have to ensure that a patient is truly ill before they give a doctor’s note).

    This compromise solution also helps the workers who really do get sick so that they:

    1) are not out of pocket abiding by their employer’s requirement for proof of illness, and

    2) are not constructively dismissed by a less than scrupulous employer who finds it difficult to put up with an employee who regularly gets ill, for whatever reason, by allowing the often-ill-employee to get doctor’s notes without being out of pocket, thereby not getting any black marks on their record simply because they can’t afford the time and money to get a doctor’s note.

    If an employer wants a doctor’s note, the employer pays for the doctor’s note.

    Abuses on all sides are eliminated with the employer pays for doctor’s notes solution.

    Thanks for both your contributions ladies. I would never have thought of this solution without both of your contributions.

    Hopefully Progressive Conservative (not Conservative) MPP Ross Romano reads this and puts forth this amendment to his PC Leader and caucus for inclusion in the final Bill 47.

    If he doesn’t get this amendment included it’ll be crystal clear that he and his party care more about business profits than they care about people.

  5. Both women simply touted party lines and neither would seem to be conciliatory . The NDP will never form another government and the Conservatives will have one chance to show how much better they are than the Liberals(wont take much). It took years for the Liberals to get us in this mess so we should be patient and let Mr. Ford get on with correcting this mess.

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