October 10, 2006

Politics: Quick Question

So, you've got a minority government with a $13 billion budget surplus, a surplus that has happened for nine consecutive years. (U.S. readers may have to go back a few years to remember what a "budget surplus" is.) So, do you:

A) Look for new programs to fund;
B) Maintain spending levels, continuing to pare down the $481 billion debt; or
C) Cut funding to tourism, education, women's programs, technological research, and medical research?

The answer, of course, is "C". Here's the reasoning, acording to Treasury Board president John Baird:

The savings result from cuts in four categories:
  • Programs that are not delivering value for money.
  • Programs that didn't spend all the money allocated.
  • Work that could be done more efficiently outside the government.
  • Programs that don't meet the needs of Canadians.
According to whom, they won't say. But since the terms are nice and ambiguous, anyone who uses them as a guide can cut any program in existence.

Take, for instance, the Museum Assistance Program, whose $9 million annual budget hasn't been increased since 1972. That's right, over thirty years have passed since the last increase in funding. This, apparently, is reason enough to reduce it by $4.6 million over the next two years.

Or Project Literacy Victoria, a group that teaches the most marginalized members of society what is considered a staple in any modern country. Without the ability to read, it's incredibly hard to improve your situation in any way. They've had their budget cut by $17.7 million.

Or the Court Challenge Program, who help provide funding for legal cases that support equal rights, a system that the poor rely heavily upon, being unable to hire (or receive advice from) lawyers who are familiar with the intricacies of the legal system. Over $5.5 million is gone from that.

The Status of Women agency loses $5 million, reducing its ability to compile statistics on women's issues in Canada. Without information action becomes, at best, vague; at worst, useless.

Medical marijuana research has been dropped by $4 million. No surprise there, as the Conservatives have long hated the idea of anything that might imply that we're soft on, you know, that crazy hippie stuff. Besides, the Americans didn't like it.

Speaking of which, the Americans which come up to visit won't be able to get the Goods and Services Tax rebate any more. That was a program that would return the GST to any tourist who spent more than $200 while visiting. Now don't get me wrong, no one actually visited Canada for the first time because of this plan, but getting a cheque from the country they just visited made for an excellent impression. It was also in Canadian funds, of course, so the encouragement was there for a return trip... This program is now gone.

The stupidest note to ring sour from this orchestra of idiocy is that $350 million of the $2 billion was cut from various collective budgets because the programs didn't spend all the money allocated to them.

Is there any way, shape or form in which that makes sense? Imagine your employer checking to see if you have a savings account, then cutting your pay with the excuse of: "well, you weren't spending it anyway".

These are the cuts of not just accountants, as accountants can usually see farther than the next fiscal year, but of the Ottawa Moles, bunkered in under the parliment buildings and avoiding any contact with what could be considered "actual people".

It's just easier that way.


posted by Thursday at 4:57 pm


Anonymous Anonymous said...

When should the Conservatives stop cutting the Liberal fat?

How about when I don't have to wait 7 excruciating hours in the local emergency room with a sick child to see a doctor?

You get that one fixed and we'll talk about all the "victims" of the cuts to the Court Challenge Program, like...


It called on the federal government to not only increase funding, but also to ensure the program’s long-term financial stability.

CONTACT: Hannah Bernstein, Canadian Bar Association, Tel: (613) 237-2925, ext. 146"

4:28 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

First, of course, is what you consider "fat".

What the Court Challenge Program actually does is make it easier for those without the financial means to hire a lawyer to do so. This means the poorest people in the land can have access to the same resources that I take for granted, including (in the most glaring example) women who are trying to leave abusive relationships where there are either frozen assets or they are exclusively in the husband's name.

If you consider that "fat", then more the pity to you.

Want to cut waiting times down? Easiest solution: stop docotrs from coming out of school with six-digit debt. Cut that, and you will open the options for young doctors to live where they want to, and where they are needed, instead of forcing them to go to where the money is.

Waiting times are doctor availability, nothing else.

5:53 pm  

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