A Ford government appointee who openly questioned the province’s pandemic policies and called the education minister “incompetent” has resigned his post as an advisor to Premier Doug Ford.
Jamil Jivani was appointed as Ontario’s first community opportunities advocate in 2019, a newly created position that came with a $500 per diem and could pay as much as $72,000 a year.
The position, according to a government news release at the time, included working with multiple ministries to help increase community safety, combat gun and gang violence, and deal with human trafficking and racism.
“Jamil has an impressive track record of building better communities and empowering young people to reach their full potential. Our government looks forward to working with him to deliver on our Plan to Build Ontario Together and foster strong, local partnerships with communities across the province,” Ford said in December 2019.
In 2020, the Jivani was a prominent presence at the premier’s daily news conferences when the government faced questions about anti-Black racism in the wake of the George Floyd demonstrations.
Jivani, however, became critical of the government’s policies on COVID-19 especially related to the prolonged school closures, and targeted Education Minister Stephen Lecce on social media.
“Education is one of the most important government offices in Ontario,” Jivani tweeted on June 24. “Yet it continues to be led by an incompetent minister, Stephen Lecce, who refuses to adequately acknowledge the harmful impact of his decisions on the most vulnerable children.”
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While Jivani was re-appointed to the position on April 1, he handed in a resignation letter on June 9 and his appointment was officially revoked on Aug. 11.
In his resignation letter, Jivani said he was “compelled” to publicly challenge decisions made by the Ford government during the pandemic — including the closure of schools and vaccine passports.
“I was compelled to publicly challenge these decisions, in part because reasonable harm mitigation efforts were not taken to protect marginalized youth from severe consequences,” he said in his letter.
Vaccine passports, Jivani argued, “disproportionately impacted black Canadians, and Indigenous, immigrant, and working class communities.”
Jivani said he worked with government to help measure the impact of the proof-of-vaccination program.
The position has now been posted for applications.
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