Cutting Ontario’s Services?

Last week, Premier Dalton McGuinty proved he does have a sense of humor, when his Government’s hand-picked “cut-meister” Don Drummond, published a set of ideas for ways the Government could save money and avert a financial apocalypse that is predicted for Ontario.

The list of cuts is broad in spectrum, and heavy-handed at best, and at worst it is Big “C” Conservatism (if not totalitarianism), but will these cuts actually transpire as they have been laid out?

A simple cursory view of the carnage that is predicted, will be no, for several reasons, but a few that I can think of would be:

  • It recommends ending all day kindergarten (recommendation 6-11), which is Dalton McGuinty’s baby, so that is not going anywhere (unless the conservatives get into power).
  • Cut funding of education system which would force more parents to have to pay for more supplies (recommendation 6-17). Seriously? We are going to make parents pay more for PUBLIC schools?
  • Cutting school bus funding (recommendation 6-16), I think that is a great idea, since I have had to pay for my kids’ busing costs for years (8 to be exact).
  • Plenty of really interesting discussions about alternate care ideas in the medical system and how to cut costs (Section 5 of the recommendations). There are so many, I don’t dare mention them. The best quote I can give you is:
    • The quality of care can and should be enhanced despite the need to restrain increased spending; the objectives of quality care and cost restraint must go hand in hand.
      -
      WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? We should have a great system, even though we are going to cut the hell out of it?!?
  • Section 7 for post secondary institutions is effectively fantasy, imploring Universities to break existing bargained agreements with staff ( 7-2 ) and also to fire incompetent teachers (7-10), it’s fun to read.
  • Social Programs you ask? Section 8 starts with:
    • Hold growth in social programs spending to 0.5 per cent per year.
      And the best of British luck to you on that one.
  •  Get to Section 12 about Infrastructure and real estate and you are treated to the following tid bits:
    • Implement full cost pricing for water and wastewater services.
    • Eliminate the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit as quickly as possible.
    • etc., etc., etc.,

As can be read, this is a broad axe cutting across the board. The tactic is quite simple, scare the living hell out of everyone, so they all start fighting for their programs, and then implement modest cuts, in areas already known and look less nasty because of it.

The only wrinkle here is that Heir McGuinty does not have a majority, so he is going to need to find some accomplices for his little farce. Wonder who will walk across the floor to join in?

Anyone care to disagree?

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Construction Boom?

My wife and I spent part of Saturday finding out how much replacing the windows on our house is going to cost (the short answer is HOLY CRAP!), however, I am sure I will have many interesting and poignant commentaries on this issue, but that is not what I am writing about today.

As we finished our discussions with the representative at Home Depot, the comment was made that we most likely would not hear from anyone for at least a week due to the “boom” right now in building in Ottawa (at least in the area of repairing and upgrading existing homes).

At first I took this simply as a “sales pitch” about how we should act soon, but then I looked over and saw something that made me think the advice was valid:

“… all booked before June 30th will not be subject to the HST…”

Then I understood the comment. It seems the impending HST is causing a “bubble” in the construction industry in Ontario (much like the Federal Home Upgrade tax credit did last year). It is interesting to see how government programs which are designed to increase Government revenue and allegedly make retailers jobs simpler can as a secondary effect cause consumers to spend money sooner.

My only question is, is this “rush” valid? Did the Provincial Sales Tax get charged for installing windows? Were windows exempt from these taxes? What about the old “cash discount” that has always existed in the construction industry?

All comments appreciated, to help me understand this “bubble”.

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Happy May day

Well, May day was actually on Saturday, but for we working folk, May Day should be celebrated on Monday, to show the Bourgeoisie Aristocracy, that the working man will one day rise up and shake off the shackles that they are held in (or something like that, I have forgotten too much of my Karl Marx to do this justice).

Last week we in Canada observed a day of mourning for those workers killed on the job (Wednesday I believe) and the flags were actually at half-mast, which I hadn’t noticed before, but again, I view that as a worthwhile observance (given how dangerous many jobs can be, and how easy it is for a workplace accident to take a worker’s life).

On the good news side of things, the Government is making noises that the deficit for this year may not be as bad as they thought with:

  • More income from folks who are finding jobs (and thus paying taxes).
  • Less outputs, by folks not collecting EI (because they are working), but also by choking off spending in the Government as well.

This is where the Government gets a double whammy with unemployment, not only does their income decrease, but their spending increases pretty much in direct proportion which makes for a very bad balance sheet. The one lucky point they have is that lending rates are so darn low these days, they are not getting bashed over the head with interest payments from the National Debt (well not as badly as say in the 80′s when interest rates were around 20%).

Does this mean we are “recovering”? Maybe, again, we’ll not know for sure for another couple of years, when we can look back and say, “Yes that definitely was a recovery we were experiencing”.

In Ontario the HST has started appearing. even though it really only starts until July 1, however if you were going to buy a yearly Health Club subscription, you’d start paying it as of today (sort of). Interesting how the media is painting this as some kind of catastrophe, and attempting to whip up public sentiment, but I guess that is what their job is as well. Watch for the HST coming to your home very soon (if not right now), if you live in Ontario or BC.

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Ontario has same Deficit as California?

Being on course this week (and attempting to resurrect my wife’s laptop computer at the same time) has made the entire writing a blog thing a bit of a chore, but a friend sent me a link to a very interesting post.

If you are to believe the numbers the little old Province of Ontario has the same deficit as the State of California (you know, the one run by the Terminator). I realize Canadians have an inferiority complex when it comes to our American friends, however this kind of envy is really not the kind we should be attempting to satiate.

The interesting numbers to look at are:

State/Province Population Deficit Per Capita Deficit
Ontario 11,410,046 $21 Billion $1,840
California 36,961,664 $20 Billion $ 541

Holy crap! Isn’t California also teetering on the brink of Bankruptcy, yet Ontario blithely blunders along not worried?

The rest of the post has some other more inflamatory commentary about Canadian Governments in general and the banking system in specific, that I am not endorsing (although it is an interesting read), but the whole deficit thing is a chilling thought.

Back Up Plans (Redux)

I have talked before about the importance of backup plans for your computers before in Sometimes the Problem Changes, but remember backups of your computers are great, however, if you have not tested the capability to restore data from these backups, you simply have a Write-Once Read-Never system in place.

I luckily backed up most of the data on a 16 GB flash drive, and also used Symantec’s on line backups, but rebuilding a system from scratch is a long tedious task (not made simpler by folks hovering around you asking, “How is it going?”).

Make sure your Restore works!

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Weekend Video: October 39 Years Ago

Were you alive in October 1970? I was, and I lived through the October Crisis, and actually remember it, and since it is October, let’s remember this important time in Canadian and Quebec history. Given that Mr. Cross was Trade Commissioner this has a little bit to do with Finances, however, no this isn’t really topical, but still an important piece of Canadian history.

I remember this because I remember a school chum’s Dad was a Member of the Legislature and when I went to a birthday party at their house, there was a machine gun on his front lawn and some large soldiers there as well.

Action: The October Crisis of 1970 by Robin Spry, National Film Board of Canada

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