Austerity cuts starting in province, bottom line reigns supreme

Changes, it seems, are all around us and are coming ever-more quickly.

Cambrian College’s recent announcement of the “suspension” (closing down) of a number of useful programs is just such an example. One news story, citing the journalism program recently suspended by Cambrian College, suggests the college expects to receive 40 percent more in student fees than its cost of running the program.

On the face of it, one would wonder if any programs at all would generate this level of revenue over expenses.

In any event, this does underscore the point that more and more decisions, particularly those that involve the spending of taxpayer dollars, are going to be bottom line based.

Similarly, Ontario is giving notice that rates for Ontario Works recipients are to be frozen at the current levels for as much as two years (and this in light of a cost of living rate that rose last month by nearly three percent).

We are going through one of our periodic times of public belt-tightening, something we have not had to do in a serious way for 20 years.

Historically and nationally, this has almost always proved to be initially painful but in the long term a good thing as governments, businesses, families and individuals are forced to look closely at their absolute minimum requirements and to spend accordingly.

These times of restraint, while usually painful at the outset, also have the effect of requiring more careful budgeting.

And while this is something that some governments, businesses, families and individuals can accomplish more readily than can others, these episodes are generational reminders that we should not be spending more than we take in.

Last Friday, the Ontario government announced it was cutting adrift the Northlander, the train system that connects Toronto to Cochrane, is run by an appointed board and was conceived as a “development railway” to access the Northeast in the very first years of the twentieth century.

It’s only vestige will be the Polar Bear Express, much beloved by tourists, the train that connects Cochrane with the James Bay communities and whose Northern terminus is Moosonee.

This Thursday, the federal budget will be rolled out and Canadians can expect many more cuts/changes of this nature nationally.

It’s a guarantee that virtually no citizen will approve of every cut or downsizing measure they hear of as virtually everyone will be affected by some change or other.

But, once again, our country seems to re-emerge from each of these periodic times of imposed restraint stronger than before.

Hopefully this will continue to be the case with the current round.