City begs province for more daycare cash, goes the title of a Toronto Sun story this past weekend. The city is going hat in hand to the province, the Sun continues, blah, blah, blah, followed, of course, by a litany of boneheaded comments from readers, who obviously, could’ve benefited themselves from a few years of early education.
If the Sun was trying to be factual with this, the article should’ve read: Cash strapped city demands province start paying its fair share of daycare funding. Using the word ‘beg’ and the phrase ‘going hat in hand’ denotes dissoluteness, irresponsibility, a lack of character and profligacy with money. Like that inveterate gambler of an uncle who uses his infrequent winnings to get drunk.
As city council begins the 2010 operating budget process next month, we’re going to be hearing a lot about possible cuts to services, increases in taxes and user fees, whopping great shortfalls. Already estimates are being made in the $300-500 million range. And yes, the province is going to be asked to chip in and contribute.
Wastefulness on the city’s part? A lack of having their financial house in order? Hardly.
You see, of the 3 levels of government we have plying their trade, only at the municipal level are they legally unable to run an annual operating budget deficit. Who mandated this? Their overlords in the provincial legislature, of course, who by my latest tabulations (sound of me slapping away on the keys of a calculator) projected a $14.1 billion deficit last year. “A deficit is not something that we take lightly,” said provincial finance minister Dwight Duncan in March. “It is, however, a necessity in these challenging times.”
A case of do as I say not as I do, it seems; paternalism that lies at the heart of municipal-provincial relations. It is also your trickle down neo-liberalism on display. In order to clean up their books, top level of senior government cuts transfer payments to the next level of senior government. That level of senior government not only makes cuts of their own but then offloads services to the lowest level of government (municipalities if you’re having trouble following) minus the corresponding dollars to finance them. Without the regulatory or revenue powers to accommodate their new obligations (or to deficit spend when necessary), cities are left holding the bag to face an angry public with news of cuts in services and/or tax/user fee increases.
So yes, Toronto Sun, the city is begging the province with hat in hand for more money but maybe a little perspective is in order. Indulging in the family member analogy once more, the provincial government is like a deadbeat dad. After refusing to pay for their kid’s upbringing for nearly a decade, they’ve finally been forced to cough up some dough which they’ve done reluctantly and almost always with a patting of their pants pockets, a shrug and a dismissive we’re a bit strapped at the moment.
That’s unfortunate but what do we tell the children?
— censoriously submitted by Cityslikr