By: Samuel Midkiff
On January 17, the Ontario government announced changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), includingÂ 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 Fordâ€™s action on postsecondary student funding. But there is a significant issue to be considered: Ontarioâ€™sÂ gargantuan public debt.
The biggest province in Canada, in every category save for geographical, holds the ratherÂ 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 DougÂ Ford for his proposals to cut back that massive debt?
We have all been witness to what happens when a society canâ€™t make debt payments.
Newfoundland, just before they reverted back to a direct colony of Britain, was paying 55 centsÂ on every dollar to debt repayments. Greece, when they defaulted on their debt paymentsÂ which were among the highest in the EU, required radical austerity measures and significantÂ bailouts from Germany.
Ontario is quickly finding themselves in the sinking ship that is theirÂ finances, and with no easy way out of their own mess they might have to depend on the otherÂ provinces to bail them out. This, of course, would mean Alberta and British Columbia.
Itâ€™s no wonder that Ford is trying to find ways to cut back on government expenses: if theÂ 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 billionÂ according to the Canadian Taxpayerâ€™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 taxpayerÂ revenue, across partisan lines: they have denounced the Liberalâ€™s wasteful expenditures as much as theÂ Conservatives.
To giveÂ an idea of the immensity of this; Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec have a combined totalÂ public debt amount of $310 billion (according to the same website). On a per capita basis, eachÂ and every Ontarian would have a debt bill of $22,522: the highest in the country. That includesÂ the desperately poor and exuberantly rich, infant and centenarian, student and professional,Â every single Ontarian.
And what consumes over half of Ontarioâ€™s yearly revenues? Healthcare and Education; this is ofÂ no surprise though as these are the biggest revenue consumers in every province in Canada.
Everybody likes the idea of â€œfreeâ€ social programs. Only issue is that when the province canâ€™tÂ draw up the domestic revenues necessary to pay for them, they borrow. And when you borrow,Â you put the prosperity of future Canadians at risk.
So donâ€™t be so quick to denounce Fordâ€™s cutbacks: with such a pile of debt to worry about, it’sÂ better to make cutbacks now rather than the complete shock of immediate austerity measuresÂ down the road.
This article belongs to The Cadreâ€™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.