Knife Wielding is Now in Fashion

The Saskatchewan provincial budget came down yesterday and I can’t help but noticing a similar theme to the federal budget: knife wielding is now in fashion.  Both budgets were focusing on reducing the civil service size and spoke of efficiency and doing more with less.

This is particularly interesting since in the Saskatchewan context since the unions have been dealing with an NDP government for decades prior which has typically been fairly union friendly.  So I suspect as union negotiations for wage increases are going to find some very low offers and tough choices brought to them over the next few years from the current Saskatchewan Party government.

It is sort of an interesting twist on the entire auto sector bailout negotiation tactic of: take less or you all lose your jobs.  For a while I suspected unions considered the public service a bit different from private sector since after all governments don’t go bankrupt.  Well obviously with the crisis situations in Greece’s debt is showing what happens when you ignore a problem for too long.  Government can in fact run into debt problems and when they hit that wall the cost cutting isn’t subtle or fair.  It’s take a pay cut and the government still hacks services and jobs with an axe rather than a knife and then raises taxes.

I hope everyone, including non-union staff, has been paying attention.  This is what happens when you have too much debt.  You lose any easy choices and all that is left is the hard ones.  So everyone has to start living in their means a bit more and using debt a bit less all the way from individual families to all levels of government.  What of course is really interesting is we haven’t even dealt with those big cost items on the horizon of an aging population and health care.  I suspect we will have an interesting decade or two in front of us.

3 thoughts on “Knife Wielding is Now in Fashion”

  1. I wonder…Will the cost of an aging population be offset somewhat by the boomers having to pay income tax on the money they withdraw from RRSP accounts?

    If the political force becomes large enough perhaps Canadian Health Care costs will be mitigated by some sort of personal use “minimum charge” for those who can afford it? Would that political direction be consistent with the “political green movement” and a carbon tax?

    How about a simple $5 per visit nominal contribution (not charge)for every visit to a doctor, health clinic or hospital?

    I wonder how much revenue would this nominal charge bring in? Would it reduce the number of visits per year? Everyone could claim these costs on their income tax (with a receipt)…and let the tax system sort out who pays and who does not.

    Simple vending machines could collect the charge as they do at car parking lots. No tickee…no fixee!

    A sort of deductible on health care service. It does seem to have an element of fairness about it.

  2. The civil service will have to show some discipline over the next few years for sure as I do not believe the taxpayers have much stomach for strikes or the threat of strikes and will most likely side with the government.

    I know a few people in the Federal civil service and there is no desire on their part to make processes work better/cheaper, even their Manager is a flake. One is even currently in French language training for 6 months over the course of the year, and he’s over 50 years old! At that age and considering there are other bilingual people in the dept is this really necessary/cost effective?

    They all got new laptops a while back, guess what they paid over twice as much for them then they were on for at Future Shop, do they even bother shopping around, probably not, they can’t be bothered because its not their money.

    I have seen so much waste and so little action from this dept. that I am familiar with that it scares me thinking of what happens in other dept.’s in all governments.

    I think a lot of people who visit your site could walk into a government dept. and almost immediately slash the budget by 30+% and still perform the same job.

    Sorry, I know I a ranting, but it really does upset me, all this wasted money and people who believe they can demand and get everything they want from the taxpayer when hard working friends have lost their job, and I took a pay and benefit cut to keep my job last year.

  3. Has anyone come across a website which shows the debt that each province is currently shouldering? The federal debt is shared amongst all us Canadians, but the Ontario debt only by Ontario taxpayers, Nova Scotia debt only by Nova Scotia taxpayers, etc. It would be interesting to see what the per capita debt is depending on which province you live in. Can a Canadian city shoulder debt? If so, then the breakdown could continue to the municipal level. Just wondering if someone has come across something like that. Maybe there are some pages on the Statistics Canada website.

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