By: Samuel Midkiff
On January 17, the Ontario government announced changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), including providing grants to students whose household income falls below a $50,000 threshold. (Government of Ontario)
The UPEI student Union has recently come out denouncing Doug Ford’s action on postsecondary student funding. But there is a significant issue to be considered: Ontario’s gargantuan public debt.
The biggest province in Canada, in every category save for geographical, holds the rather infamous claim to the largest public debt in the country.
So as a province that is a metaphorical vehicle spinning out of control, who can blame Doug Ford for his proposals to cut back that massive debt?
We have all been witness to what happens when a society can’t make debt payments.
Newfoundland, just before they reverted back to a direct colony of Britain, was paying 55 cents on every dollar to debt repayments. Greece, when they defaulted on their debt payments which were among the highest in the EU, required radical austerity measures and significant bailouts from Germany.
Ontario is quickly finding themselves in the sinking ship that is their finances, and with no easy way out of their own mess they might have to depend on the other provinces to bail them out. This, of course, would mean Alberta and British Columbia.
It’s no wonder that Ford is trying to find ways to cut back on government expenses: if the creditors come calling for repayments and Ontario defaults, then everyone loses!
The exact public debt that Ontario has managed to rack up currently sits at $322 billion according to the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation, increasing by about $1,000 a second.
The CTF has been decried as a partisan institution. However, they are vocal about any expenditures of taxpayer revenue, across partisan lines: they have denounced the Liberal’s wasteful expenditures as much as the Conservatives.
To give an idea of the immensity of this; Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec have a combined total public debt amount of $310 billion (according to the same website). On a per capita basis, each and every Ontarian would have a debt bill of $22,522: the highest in the country. That includes the desperately poor and exuberantly rich, infant and centenarian, student and professional, every single Ontarian.
And what consumes over half of Ontario’s yearly revenues? Healthcare and Education; this is of no surprise though as these are the biggest revenue consumers in every province in Canada.
Everybody likes the idea of “free” social programs. Only issue is that when the province can’t draw up the domestic revenues necessary to pay for them, they borrow. And when you borrow, you put the prosperity of future Canadians at risk.
So don’t be so quick to denounce Ford’s cutbacks: with such a pile of debt to worry about, it’s better to make cutbacks now rather than the complete shock of immediate austerity measures down the road.
This article belongs to The Cadre’s opinion section. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Cadre.