Thursday, May 09, 2019

More Doug Ford cuts - Mike Harris Lite?

Is anyone keeping track of all the cuts Doug Ford's government is foisting on the province of Ontario? It seems that almost every week there is news of a new cut.
I guess the idea is that if all the cuts were announced together as part of the province's annual budget, then Ford would be seen as a new Mike Harris. By doing it in dribs and drabs, he is probably hoping that not everyone will notice his gradual dismantling of the social, economic and environmental fabric of Canada's largest province.
The latest cutback is to the Ontario Centres of Excellence, which has had its funding cut by half. The OCE helps high-potential tech startups and innovative companies find additional funding and personnel to take their ideas to market. In a business climate where innovation needs to be fostered not repressed, this sounds like a really bad idea.
This comes after recent announcements of cuts to the Toronto and Ottawa tourism budget, cuts to child care centres, cuts to the Ontario Music Fund, cuts to flood control measures (this at a time when floods were raging across eastern and northern Ontario), cuts to tree planting programscuts to inter-library loans and to Toronto Public Library's virtual reference library projectcuts to legal aid, cuts to public health, cuts to Trillium Foundation funding of charities, cuts to funding of specialized school programs for at-risk youth, cuts to after-school and tutoring programs, and increased class sizescuts to supervised drug-use sites, and others. That's a lot of cuts. I hadn't realized just how many there have been until I started to list them (and I am sure I have left out several), but that is probably the point. And of course, almost by definition, any government spending cuts predominantly affect the poor and the infirm.
This kind of nickel-and-diming is unlikely to have much of an effect on Ontario's bottom line or provincial debt, but it has a very real effect on people's lives, the environment and the health of the economy. It is small short-term gain at the expense of (potentially much larger) long-term pain. If the average Joe in the street were asked whether he thought that any of these programs should be slashed, he would almost certainly say no, not really. And yet, here we are.
Call it Mike Harris Lite, but remember how long it took Ontario to recover from Harris' nickel-and-diming.

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