Ontario’s Official Have-not Status

This has been looming and the day has finally arrived.

The province of Ontario, historically one of the richest, will be receiving 347 million in total. The first of 14 federal equalization payments were transferred on Tuesday.

Its first equalization payment ever….

Ever!

Equalization payments are intended to provide poorer provinces with assistance to help maintain a similar level of services to that which richer provinces are able to provide.

While 347 million may seem like a lot, the Ontario budget is in the multiple billions– kind of puts things into perspective.  And considering Quebec will be getting 8 billion in transfers, our transfer seems chump change.

There are many arguments against the continuation of this program due to the inequities but like any behemoth, it will be a long time coming. The historical have-nots don’t want to lose the equalization payments that have been coming to them and the whole game of trying to keep everyone happy essentially guarantees that no one will be happy.

Basically, don’t hold your breath for any measurable changes.

The Ontario Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, has tried to downplay the transfer, essentially arguing that it is Ontario’s money being returned, but you can’t help but think that this is a blow to the province’s psyche. People like to dump on Ontario- almost as much as they like to dump on Toronto. While some in this province (and city) would be well served by this helping of humble pie, the vast majority of the populous do not deserve this ire. It really is too bad that the country can’t pull together to do what is best for everyone- self-interest always gets in the way.

These are tough times and Ontario is getting a little shot in the arm. Everyone is hoping to get out of this recession sooner than later but Canada as a whole fell into a recession later than other countries and since the recovery has to happen on a global scale, it is not unreasonable to presume that we will pull ourselves out of the recession later than others.

Deficit spending on the federal and provincial level is designed to soften the blow of the recession- I just can’t help but think we may be creating a bigger problem in the long run. I can’t argue against the fact that money has to be spent but it has to be done judiciously.

Do I have issues with how the money is being allocated?

You bet I do.

I just hope I am wrong.

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~ by angryegg on April 17, 2009.

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