In my post from May 20th, I discusssed how simplicity and clarity could not only help political parties with their message, but help voters understand what they are voting for. The idea is to lay out a four year plan with a simple theme in each year of a the mandate. I mentioned a possible plan would be to have each budget have a one focus, the four ‘thematic’ budgets would be Health; Environment; Energy and Education. But you say to me, “Rob you forgot about transportation, social services, job creation, First Nation etc.” My response is that each of those could appear in each budget as long as the overall focus remains on the priority set out by the government. Each ion those can be part of that years budget focus.
For the sake of clarity let me focus on two specific budget priorities; Health and the Environment. In each of these other spending tracks are found.
Let’s look at Health Care. The major issue to be addressed is the delivery of health care to Ontarians, eliminating wait times and ensuring that there are doctors for everyone. Within health care you will find infrastructure spending to build new hospitals and care centres. Social services are covered under mental health services, autism testing and education. If you want to cover First Nations you’ll see it in emergency care, access to health service for education to prevent health issues both physical and mental health in First Nations communities.
Through the “health care” budget, we also can help the innovation sector with the challenge to provide long distance care electronically allowing physicians the ability to see patients via skype etc. Job creation comes from construction, expanded social services and while this happens the province expands the post secondary school sector focusing on educating in health sciences to serve the expanded health care network in the province.
My second example is the Environment. We can apply the same ‘political science’; Ontarians could find many of the other spending opportunities areas to help the environment. Innovation spending will be narrowed to creating clean green energy inexpensively, repairing and replacing municipal infrastructure that leads to cleaner air and land. Let’s not forget transportation either. Moving people can be a huge factor in reducing CO2 emissions.
Let’s use the “environment” budget to move people by rail, work with car manufacturers to design and build less expensive electric and low emission vehicles. and the infrastructure to support these vehicles. Agriculture also gets a boost from environmental spending – helping farmers adjust with new energy, farming innovations and studies to assist in concerns like a reduced bee population. We should always remember, farmers are the worlds first stewards when it comes to the environment and sustainability. governments in Ontario in the last 13 years have given rural voters second and third place in the budget line-up. This budget design gives equal voice to all ministries in the economy of Ontario.
The main idea is stop having hodge podge budgets where many sectors get a little of the budget pie. Thought out properly each budget can address one major area of government with a trickle down effect to others. What this does is ensure Ministries have to work together – as long as the ministries can stay within the priority of that budget.
Working in this method will result in governments thinking and working better and harder for the voters. It requires forethought, planning and anticipating future needs of the province. It means government must listen to non-partisan sector experts as this type of budgeting is never ending.
This idea is like running the 10,000 meter race and how a runner prepares and is coached for it. You will run around a 400 meter track 25 times, but as the race progresses the strategy changes. The budgets can work the same way. By the time you revisit health care, you will see where your plan took the province and will see how to change the strategies to fit where your previous actions have taken you. Obviously hope you don’t have to backtrack.
Does this have a chance of taking hold? Are politicians beholden to how budgets are planned now? Can political parties turn the corner and recognize that the voters need to see things get done differently, not the same way – in Ontario the same way is not helping?
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