Ontario’s governing Liberals are being criticized by opposition parties over the gift cards that were handed out in the wake of the disruptive ice storm last month.
The ice storm struck a few days ahead of Christmas and knocked out power to some 600,000 homes and businesses in Ontario.
Toronto was particularly hard hit, with 300,000 customers left without power at the height of the storm. Some people living in the city spent more than a week in the dark, as crews worked to gradually reduce the number of affected customers.
The Progressive Conservatives have since accused the Liberals of playing "postal code politics" by handing out gift cards to those who lost power in the Toronto area first — an allusion to the government’s strong support in the city, as compared to other parts of the province.
On Tuesday, the Official Opposition continued to criticize the government for those efforts, suggesting that Premier Kathleen Wynne was acting more like the mayor of Toronto when the storm first hit.
PC critic Lisa MacLeod said that Wynne rushed out the gift card program to compensate people who lost food during the power outage, but did not do enough work to figure out who should be receiving the money.
NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said he believed the premier was doing "damage control" by handing out food baskets to some people who were affected. But he said Wynne made no such appearance at darkened high rises in his riding where seniors were stuck on upper floors.
Wynne wrote an op-ed piece that was published in the Toronto Star on Tuesday, in which the premier admitted that the gift-card distribution process could have been smoother in some respects, but she said the overall effort was a success.
“I do not believe it is better to do nothing than to try to help,” the premier said in the op-ed printed in the Star.
On Tuesday, gift cards were being made available to people in need living in communities outside of Toronto that were also affected by the storm.