True love letters don’t come until after Valentines Day. After February 14th letters espousing what we love are sent to the government, Members of Parliaments across Canada and to the members that sit in Ottawa. The letters are flowing because it’s “budget time”, the time where the hands come out hoping that the government puts a little bit of cash into them.
The government puts a great deal of effort into each budget, they have to fend off all the requests and asks that come their way. From more funding for medical research, to affordable housing, to education spending, infrastructure investments and spending that connects generations and communities across provincial and federal boundaries someone is asking the government for help.
Governments seek to establish a theme for how the money will be spent. Take as examples, the themes of the four budgets the federal Liberals tabled since 2016. Their first budget was titled “Growing the middle class”, in 2017 the Liberals went with “Building a strong middle class”, 2018’s budget was given a hyphenated name, Equality growth – A strong middle class and last year’s budget was titled “Investing in the middle class”. Any guesses how the government will proceed for the 2020 budget? I propose the budget be called, Still working towards a strong middle class because we haven’t been able to do after 4 budgets”.
Of course, I jest, but just how far can a government take the middle class? May be the Liberals will move the middle class ‘forward’, borrowing from their election theme.
I would like you to consider another aspect of building the budget. As I mentioned earlier there are probable hundreds, if not thousands of requests for more money being handed out and additional spending being approved by the Finance Minister. The requests come from budget consultation meetings, emails, letters and phone calls. The current government has increased government spending and deficits in each budget they’ve tabled. I ask though, at what point does spending decrease? Should it decrease? How does it decrease. While there is likely some debate on where spending goes, it seems that very little consideration where spending should stop going.
Budget requests vary from climate action to senior’s care, international development, universal childcare, universal pharmacare and universal dental care, language rights and among many others items and increase government funding for research funding for almost every disease Canadians suffer from.
Provinces also get into the act, asking for more in provincial transfers from Ottawa for their programs and not wanting to be left out are municipalities asking both federal and provincial governments for money to fund their programs and services.
The budget boogie is a round the clock dance competition. It’s non-stop and it is not for the faint of heart. The boogie will cause stress of the highest degree as governments are asked for “more, more, more”. I wonder what happens to the dance when “money’s too tight to mention”.
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