Ontario Government Says it Texts on iPads, Not Cellphones

The Doug Ford government in Ontario is facing scrutiny over the minimal use of official phones by the premier and senior ministers, with opposition parties raising concerns about transparency and accountability.

Ontario NDP Leader Marit Stiles questioned the government’s communication methods after a report by Global News revealed that key ministers, including those of education, finance, health, housing, and transportation, recorded minimal call times on their official devices, ranging from zero to 20 minutes.

Further, freedom of information requests uncovered that Premier Ford did not make any calls from his official device for four months. Responding to these discoveries, Stiles asked in a session last Wednesday, “Is it standard practice for ministers to avoid accountability in this way?”

Progressive Conservative House Leader Paul Calandra defended the government, emphasizing the use of alternative communication methods. He highlighted that the lack of phone calls was due to the cabinet’s reliance on other technologies for communication.

“There are other ways of communicating: my iPad — actually, I can text message on my iPad,” Calandra stated, suggesting a shift in communication tools within the government. Apple’s iMessage allows text message forwarding to iPad and Mac devices, and replying from the iPad as well. Texting with a non-Apple device gives you green chat bubbles instead of blue.

The report also pointed out that during critical periods, such as the finance minister finalizing and presenting the annual budget in March 2023, the phone usage was exceptionally low. Despite this, all five ministers maintained they adhered to record-keeping rules and utilized various communication methods, including in-person meetings and Microsoft Teams.

Amid these discussions, Global News is pursuing an appeal to access government-related calls made on Ford’s personal cellphone. Stiles expressed her concern that the negligible phone calls on government-issued devices might be a tactic to dodge freedom-of-information disclosures.

Calandra, addressing multiple questions about the issue, reiterated the government’s reliance on modern communication methods beyond traditional phone calls, saying, “The modern age has many other ways of communicating, not just the old technology that is a phone.”

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