When num­bers do add up

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey ([email protected]­gar­rynews.ca)

Num­bers never lie. Few peo­ple be­lieve that be­cause, like ev­ery­thing else, sta­tis­tics can be ma­nip­u­lated to re­in­force a feel­ing or an ar­gu­ment. Yet, fig­ures can pro­vide some in­sight into cer­tain is­sues. Con­sider that with the next On­tario elec­tion less than a month away, Con­ser­va­tives in Glen­garry-Prescott-Rus­sell sense that their long drought may soon be over.

The odds, pub­lic opin­ion polls and grow­ing anger with ev­ery­thing Lib­er­als, would in­di­cate that the blue team will no longer be singing the blues June 7.

Since the rid­ing was cre­ated in 1995, Lib­er­als have rep­re­sented the con­stituency at Queen’s Park.

When Prescott-Rus­sell Lib­eral MPP Jean Poirier stepped down, JeanMarc Lalonde eas­ily won in the newly-cre­ated GPR. In four elec­tions, Mr. Lalonde ran up huge vic­to­ries, get­ting any­where from 55 to 60 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote.

Af­ter Mr. Lalonde did not seek re-elec­tion in 2011, Grant Crack con­tin­ued the win­ning tra­di­tion for the Lib­er­als. He was re-elected in 2014.

In the last elec­tion, Mr. Crack fared bet­ter than dur­ing his in­au­gu­ral run in 2011.

He got 23,565 votes, of 49.74 per cent of the bal­lots cast, for an im­prove­ment of 6.5 per cent over his 2011 to­tal.

Sec­ond was Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Rox­ane Vil­leneuve, who got 15,429 votes, of 32.57 per cent of the to­tal cast, a drop of 7.19 per cent from the Tories’ 2011 to­tal.

New Democrats’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive Is­abelle Sabourin re­ceived 5,902 votes, or 12.46 per cent of all bal­lots cast, for a drop of 1.88 per cent from 2011.

In the 2011 elec­tion, al­though Mr. Crack re­ceived 17.3 per cent fewer votes than Mr. Lalonde had gar­nered in 2007, his 17,344 votes (or 43 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote) bet­tered Con­ser­va­tive Mar­ilissa Gos­selin, who got 15,973, or 39.76 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote, and an im­prove­ment of 12 per cent over Tory De­nis Pom­mainville’s show­ing in 2007.

New Demo­cratic Bon­nie Jean-Louis re­ceived 5,721, or 14.24 per cent of the to­tal cast, for an im­prove­ment of 8.57 per cent over Josée Blanchette’s 2007 to­tal.

Many “ex­perts” ex­pect a blue wave to wipe out the Lib­er­als and sweep Doug Ford into power, while some be­lieve that New Democrats will ben­e­fit from a dis­taste for both the Lib­er­als and Con­ser­va­tives.

All of the pre-elec­tion anal­y­sis and pre­dic­tions are in­ter­est­ing but the only num­bers that re­ally count are the fi­nal vote tal­lies.

Grim num­bers

Po­lice re­ports rarely con­tain good news. That trend con­tin­ued when Staff Sgt. Norm La­m­on­tagne, op­er­a­tions man­ager for the Stor­mont-Dun­das-Glen­garry On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice de­tach­ment, told South Glen­garry coun­cil last week of a spike in men­tal health-re­lated calls in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

In the first four months of 2018, OPP of­fi­cers re­sponded to 19 in­ci­dents caused by men­tal health prob­lems; dur­ing the first four months of 2017, there were ten such cases in South Glen­garry.

Over­all, the OPP re­sponded to 1,130 calls in South Glen­garry to date in 2018, a huge in­crease from the 782 calls dur­ing the same pe­riod last year.

The num­bers pro­vide a lim­ited snap­shot, how­ever, they do con­firm Staff Sergeant La­m­on­tagne’s ob­ser­va­tion that many of th­ese men­tal health-re­lated calls that are han­dled by po­lice would be bet­ter dealt with by med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

Pot smoke on the wa­ter

Speak­ing of health is­sues, North Amer­i­can Safe Boat­ing Aware­ness Week will take place across Canada from May 19 to May 25 to re­mind the 15 mil­lion recre­ational boaters in Canada to be safe and re­spon­si­ble on the wa­ter.

Al­though boat­ing re­lated fa­tal­i­ties have trended down­wards in past years, there con­tin­ues to be an av­er­age of over 100 boat­ing re­lated deaths a year.

The im­pend­ing le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis along with the rise in pre­scrip­tion nar­cotic use are caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tional con­cern for boat­ing safety ad­vo­cate groups, en­force­ment agen­cies and first re­spon­ders. Al­co­hol alone has long been proven to be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in 40 per cent of boat­ing fa­tal­i­ties across Canada but the le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational cannabis has the po­ten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease this statis­tic.

De­pen­dence on province

Taxes and re­liance on the pro­vin­cial cof­fers are also prover­bial causes for the higher stress lev­els.

Fig­ures con­firm that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties de­pend heav­ily on fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments to re­turn some of the taxes we pay in the form of mu­nic­i­pal sub­si­dies.

For ex­am­ple, un­der the On­tario Mu­nic­i­pal Part­ner­ship Fund, North Glen­garry's 2017 OMPF al­lo­ca­tion was $2,326,900, which is the equiv­a­lent of 49 per cent of the town­ship's mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty tax rev­enue.

In South Glen­garry, where peo­ple are more wealthy than in NG, the town­ship re­ceived an OMPF al­lo­ca­tion of $972,800, which is the equiv­a­lent of 13% of the town­ship's mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty tax rev­enue.

The es­ti­mated to­tal ben­e­fit of the 2017 pro­vin­cial up­loads for the United Coun­ties of Stor­mont, Dun­das and Glen­garry was $9,136,900, which was the equiv­a­lent of 13% of all mu­nic­i­pal prop­erty tax rev­enue in the United Coun­ties.

The money is in the coun­try

How did that amal­ga­ma­tion work out for you? As ev­ery­one knows, this year marks the 20th an­niver­sary of mu­nic­i­pal merg­ers which cre­ated North and South Glen­garry as we know them to­day.

Th­ese num­bers are worth re­tain­ing. Ac­cord­ing to the 2017 fig­ures, Kenyon and Lochiel ward each ac­count for 36 per cent of North Glen­garry’s as­sess­ment, Alexandria 22 per cent and Maxville five per cent.

Gas tax rev­enues drop­ping

The next time you are fill­ing up the gas tank, and swear­ing at the prices, re­mem­ber that a tiny por­tion of the money you spend on fuel ends up in lo­cal cof­fers. South Glen­garry re­ceived $400,167 while the North got $311,663 in 2017-2018 in fund­ing the fed­eral govern­ment fun­neled to the province.

But the bad news is that next year those sums will drop. You can­not blame the Lib­er­als for this drop in funds.

The por­tions will be re­duced be­cause of stag­nat­ing pop­u­la­tion. In the North, the pop­u­la­tion dropped from 10,251 to 10,109 be­tween 2011 and 2017, a de­crease of 1.4 per cent, while in the South, the pop­u­la­tion slipped a tad, from 13,162 to 12,150, for a de­crease of .1 per cent.

If a mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s pop­u­la­tion growth is less than the na­tional growth av­er­age of five per cent, you can ex­pect a de­crease in your mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s al­lo­ca­tion in 2019.

The ex­act num­ber will not be known un­til this sum­mer. But this loss in rev­enues serves as an­other re­minder that pop­u­la­tion shrink­age can be costly.

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