Budget season is not over. The federal budget will be tabled next week, and the provincial budget is due April 11th. As Canadians are going to the polls this fall, the federal budget will be an election budget with few, if any, cuts expected. More concerning is the planned Ontario budget. In the first year of a four-year mandate, the Ford government was elected based on a platform of change. The Premier espoused a budget-conscience platform promising to find efficiencies where ever he could.
There are many priorities that the province will have to juggle in this budget process. Since its election, the Ford government has consulted a great deal with the public on a number of issues. Coming to grips with a multi-billion dollar structural deficit is no easy feat. That said, wholesale and arbitrary slashing of services can be as damaging as any looming deficit.
Thus far, the government’s announcements have amounted to re-announcing previous government funding, photo-op gimmicks for cheap beer, or disastrous realignments of programs like the Ontario Autism Program. That said, there are a few priorities The Leader would like to see tackled in the upcoming budget.
First, there needs to be a stable and long-term funding plan for our health care and education systems. Both have been living on a year-by-year basis, which does not provide the stability needed for long-term planning. How can a school board or hospital plan for five years down the road, when funding can disappear at the whim of the government of the day?
Second, cuts need to be made in a way that won’t affect the quality of the services already provided to people by the government. That boils down to erasing duplicate management rather than slashing front-line services.
Lastly, any changes, cuts or otherwise, need to be communicated truthfully to the people of Ontario. We’re not idiots. Talk plainly and frankly. Lay out what the issues are with a specific service, and where the changes could be made. We may not like all the news, but being given the full picture, without political spin, can only lead to understanding the issues. We may not like the taste of Buckley’s medicine: that doesn’t mean we don’t understand it is supposed to help.