A program that needs an overhaul
The millions that the Feds are giving to municipalities are one of these government programs that clearly show that federalism is dead in Canada. The feds have nothing to do in municipal affairs; if they want to split the bounty of taxes, they only have to give money to the provinces. The municipalities, after all, fall under the responsibility of the provinces. Read a certain Pierre-Elliot Trudeau to get the basic framework on how it’s supposed to be.
But that clear responsibility magically fades away when a photo op is in the offering.
The program, officially a redistribution of the gas tax, is a response to an Ontario problem, namely the Waterton water disaster. So municipalities must use the money first for water and sewer infrastructures. A noble cause.
But it may well be that a town or village doesn’t have a water or sewer problem and that the money could be well spent elsewhere. Believe it or not, this exists.
Worse are the conditions attached to the money. No work can be done in-house, all must be contracted. Hello Charbonneau! Another windfall for the usual gang.
The fact is that municipalities and our tax bills would benefit if some of that money could be spent hiring local workers, first and foremost, our municipal ones.
But there is a much larger issue with that so called windfall. Provinces and the services that they provide are starving while the feds can boast of surpluses. Our schools must cut services that give needy students a chance to break from the poverty cycle while Stephen Harper is cruising to next year’s election as a marvellous administrator able to cut taxes on top of all. Our health care system is crumbling, one minister after another offering a cure to a problem that only more money can solve, and the Progressive Conservatives are telling us how well the Canadian economy is going. This is obscene. To add insult to injury, the Official Opposition is flogging a national daycare program! Well, it’s hard to stop the New Democrats from being what they are, a centralist government. But daycare is a provincial prerogative; nobody can find a shred of argument to defend a role by the federal government in that field. Thomas Mulcair, who should know better, after all he was provincial minister once, must have found the miracle one.
So let’s rejoice: our region is getting almost fifty million to spend in the next couple of years while we witness our whole infrastructure really going down the drain.