Ontario has a severe debt problem because too few politicians and special interest groups care to solve it.
A case in point is reaction to last Thursday afternoon’s announced cuts.
The Ontario government is cutting by $1 billion from Toronto Public Health’s funding over a decade as part of a plan to consolidate local public health units across the province.
The second cuts funding for Ontario’s two public library services by half.
The province has an $11.7-billion deficit with debt approaching $350 billion. Ontario’s taxpayers are giving up $1 billion worth of their hard earned income every month just to pay the interest on the debt. Something has to be done. Cuts have to be made.
It is fair to say that Doug Ford and the PCs were elected to address the issue.
The CBC quoted Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy — chair of the Board of Health –saying only moments after learning of the health-care cut: “People will die.”
Others, including Mayor John Tory, immediately decried the move. None were quoted offering a solution or an alternate way to save money.
The government says it will achieve the savings by consolidating and reducing the number of province-wide units.
To be fair, the government is going to have to explain how that move will maintain good health care while saving the money.
But my point is that it is rare to see opposing forces to any attempt to save money — and our situation is critical — come forward with alternate solutions. What would they cut? Often they won’t cut anything. They fall back on threats to raise taxes.
How does Cressy know people will die? He didn’t appear to even spend time thinking about it. He merely ran to a CBC reporter to scream hysterics mere minutes after learning of the cut.
As for the library cut, those in smaller communities around the province may have cause to be worried about their services.
But, in Toronto, the city is better served than many other great cities.
According to a report from World Cities Culture Forum Toronto has 3.4 libraries per 100,000 people. Montreal has three, while New York and Los Angeles each have 2.4.
Perhaps cutting back would not be the cultural apocalypse some suggested when former Mayor Rob Ford proposed cuts.
This is anecdotal, but I can walk to three libraries in my area of town in addition to the Family History Library. I bet we could get by with one less.
Cuts are painful in government as they are in business and in households. No one likes it.
Responsible businesses and families do it when they have to. As a province we have to.
Think of all the services we could provide with the nearly $12 billion we spend on interest if we had balanced the budget and cleared the debt.