When numbers do add up
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.
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.