Da Legal Stuff...

All commentaries published on Web Talk are the opinions of the contributor(s) only and do not necessarily represent the position of any other individuals, groups or organizations.

Now, with that out of the way...Let's Web Talk.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Cancer Clinics GOOD, Gold Plated Spitoons BAD

Today, November 7, 2005, is the day the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial government kicks off its pre-budget consultations with a meeting in Labrador City. Between now and the end of the year Finance Minister Loyola Sullivan intends to hold hearings in ten communities across the Province in an effort to gather suggestions from the public for the 2006 Provincial budget.

No doubt there will be the usual pleas for the old standards of health care, schools, roads and infrastructure, important items for sure and quite likely candidates to receive a piece of the pie. So to, there will be calls for wage increases in the public sector, an important matter for those involved, but less likely to make the final draft with public sentiment being what it is on the topic of government employees.

Along with the standard calls there will also be special interest groups expecting the royal treatment now that the “$2 billion is in the bank”. Every group from “Dog Groomers for a Better Society” to “Save the Snails” will likely show up with both hands out and a sad story to tell. Add to this the opposition parties who will scream that the purse strings need to be opened up now that the deficit for this year is no longer a factor.

Of course, the usual political games will need to be played, that’s just the way things work in Canadian politics. Some groups will be need to be given token sums of money to appease them and as a result somewhere in a musty old meeting hall a group of geriatric limbo dancers will get the money they need for a new state of the art limbo stick and a six pack of hip replacements. That’s just the way things work unfortunately. We can only hope that this sort of pandering is as limited as possible.

To date, Minister Sullivan and Premier Williams have sung the same song in perfect harmony. Yes, the deficit is gone, but that was due to an anomaly in oil prices and besides, there is still the $12 billion dollar debt. That dragon is still outside the door and nowhere near being slain. Chapter and verse, they have sung this over and over.

They are not wrong. As much as everyone wants a piece of the financial pie, it remains a fact that the Provincial debt has to be addressed as quickly and decisively as possible without causing undue suffering in the Province.

Newfoundland and Labrador has a small and aging population that will continue to require ever increasing health care and other services as they grow older. Our infrastructure is aging and our working age tax base is shrinking. The oil won’t last forever and as much as some opposition members and members of the public want to see extra money spent now, that approach will only mean a continuing debt load and extremely high payments going forward.

What some people fail to realize, or simply don’t care about, is the fact that if the debt is erased, or at least put under control, there will be more money for the types of programs we all care about.

We need to consider one simple question. Would we rather spend the money now and continue to spend it until it’s gone, or would we rather put ourselves in a financial position where the debt factor is removed and we have money available on a continued basis going forward?

Simple really, if you have to pay the mortgage you have less expendable income. Once the house is paid off, you can do the little things you would like to do but could never really afford to before.

Up to this point the current Provincial government has been talking the talk on this subject. Now is the time to walk the walk. Yes, some people will kick and scream. Yes, some causes, service improvements and special needs spending will have to be put on hold for the time being. This is where each one of us has a part to play in ensuring the right things get done.

This is where we hold the government’s feet to the fire and ensure that good prudent judgment is used. This is where we can help ensure that only the truly necessary items are addressed. This is where we pat our leaders on the back for fiscal prudence and good judgment should they display it and where we slap them across the face when they don’t.

Money for cancer clinics GOOD, money for gold plated spittoons at the Rooms BAD.

Over the past few years we have had a small glimpse into the possibility of a prosperous Newfoundland and Labrador somewhere in the distance, let’s not let that vision disappear once again for the sake of another “quick fix”.


MrChills said...

As if the people of the province didn’t bitch enough before with their hands out. Now since Danny has come home from Ottawa with the big cheque everyone and their dog thinks that the money should be spent right away on them and their specific cause.

No one seems to remember that when averaged out, every single man, woman and child in the province owes almost $25,000!

The problem with the majority Newfoundlanders is that by large we are very short sighted. We would rather run around all day long putting out individual fires without stopping for a moment to figure out where the source of the flames is coming from.

It is time for the Government to take a hard lined stand and continue running the province like a business. As far as I am concerned if that time does not come until my children are my age, than it is worth the wait.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Great analogy with the fires Mr Chills.

"The problem with the majority Newfoundlanders is that by large we are very short sighted. We would rather run around all day long putting out individual fires without stopping for a moment to figure out where the source of the flames is coming from."