Balancing Powers

by The Nommz on April 27, 2015 - 2:06pm

 

     Currently in the province of Quebec there have been discussions to cut the reserved budgets for many social programs which the habitants of the province have depended on for decades. Everything from healthcare to education will be affected, and a substantial amount of the population has raised their voices in anger at the situation. Quebec is one of the many provinces to be affected by the cuts that the federal government in an attempt to balance Canada’s budget. However according to the Globe and Mail’s Bill Curry in his article “Budget balanced on backs of contingency fund, EI and oil” the balancing of the Canadian budget relies heavily on the oil prices going back to normal, and collecting a substantial amount of employment insurance premiums. Ultimately the goal of the Harper Government’s plans is to ensure that the budget is balanced by reducing Canada’s contingency budget from 3 billion to 1 billion dollars, And cutting the Employment premiums of the country from 1.88$ to 1.44$ per 100 dollars. Such measures have left certain aspects of the reserve vulnerable such as health care, which have made many doctors threaten to go private in order to protect their livelihoods.

    The effects of austerity can be seen in Ontario, where back in 2012 certain cuts to the budget of public services contributed to the provinces economic slow down. According to the (CCPA) the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, poor predictions of the economic situation of what the province would look like in the year of 2013 led to the shift to the austerity plan. The government predicted that the deficit would be just over $30 billion, however the CCPA discovered that in reality the debt was only to reach $11 billion. The CCPA also concluded that government spending into services and industry would make its return, and that despite Ontario’s weak economic recovery the provincial deficit would continue to disappear without the need for further cuts to the public services of the province. Ultimately the cuts to public spending further contributed to the decline of Ontario’s economy.

    The fear of many young Quebecers is that austerity measures being applied to Quebec’s already weak economy would further degrade the situation within the province. Unlike Ontario that has a 29.6% debt to GDP ratio, Quebec has a 49% debt to GDP ratio. This mark up gives Quebec the most significant amount of debt among any Canadian province, and is what has so many new power activist worried. They believe that if the government allows Quebec to adopt Austerity measures into its economic plan to rid the province of debt, in will have the opposite effect on the province and further contribute to the problem that the government is trying to avoid in the first place. The cuts to social services which the government spends money on to secure and see their continual operation, are essential to the further growth of the economy. Without government investment into these systems we will see a decline, mush as Ontario has and it is vital that we address this issue with clear acknowledgement of what does, and does not work.

 

Sources:

https://www.policyalternatives.ca/newsroom/news-releases/austerity-doing-ontario-more-harm-good-report

 

http://www.fraserinstitute.org/research-news/news/news-releases/Quebec-carries-largest-debt-load-in-Canada,-forcing-taxpayers-to-pay-billions-in-interest-payments/

 

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/budget-balanced-on-backs-of...

Comments

Your post is a great text with lots of research behind it that helps readers question the austerity debate going on in Quebec. I have to say, it seems that a part of the population is not well informed on the subject but you did a good job on explaining it. I have to agree that with the austerity plan, we will see a dangerous decline in the Quebec’s economy and the resources and services provided for the population. Although, as stated in the post, Quebec has a big net debt which was estimated at $175.5 billion for the years of 2012-2013, the province cannot bear the cuts that will be made in different areas. The Quebec’s austerity plan, will cut funds to the health and education systems putting at risk the most vulnerable in the province. For example, the government wanted to reduce the accessibility to abortion, luckily it will not happen, but it still gives a good idea on which way we are heading. Moreover, while considering reducing the workforce by 2%, the government deputes receive huge salaries and have expensive meeting in five stars hotels. It is clear that the measures that could be taken to reduce the debt will most likely affect the middle class shifting many to the lower class side while not really affecting the upper class. I believe, this is the reason why so many Quebec citizen are outraged by the austerity plan which targets those who have less.

Hello The Nommz! This article is very informative and effectively communicates the essential information one needs to understand the proposed Austerity measures in Quebec. It is always interesting to read about austerity as it is a concept many are opposed to, yet it continues to be used as a solution for many countries’ debt problems. You are right to be wary of the proposed cuts to education and healthcare in the province; social services such as these are essential to keep the population healthy and well educated two important qualities of a healthy society. Quebec already has deficiencies in these services (most notably healthcare); therefore, cutting funds for essential services that are already at risk is more likely to set Quebec on an even more slippery slope than it is already with its debts. Here, it is really a question of whether austerity is an effective and moral tool for balancing provincial and federal budgets. Is cutting these types of services justifiable? After all, not only the general population depends on them, but the effectiveness of these services also directly influences the success (present and future) of the nation. Thus your concerns are legitimate and important; balancing the country’s budget by imposing austerity measures is not a viable answer, but rather could contribute to further monetary and social problems.

About the author