Can You Picture $274,000,000,000.00?

With the warm and sunny weather you may be tempted to buy a shiny new vehicle.  But, if Ontario’s approximate public-held debt of $274,258,100,000.00 (apart from the $10,000,000,000.00 deficit) is weighing on your mind, instead of buying a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GLS, MSRP $21,300.00, you could cut a cheque for this amount to the Ontario Government.  That would just about cover your share of the debt.

Toronto_-_ON_-_CN_Tower_(Bremner_Blvd)

© Wladyslaw

Need another picture? At just under five feet high, it would take a stack of 363 Elantras to equal the height of Toronto’s CN Tower.  Imagine 35,471 stacks of Elantras each as high as the CN Tower!  This is Ontario’s public-held debt (rounded off to the nearest bumper)!

It appears from past decisions, such as:

  • Multi-Million dollar New Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine at Western University (How many Public Health Units exit in Ontario?)
  • 8.5 % pay hike for OPP in 2014
  • $1,400,000.00 salary for former President & CEO of Ornge–Ontario’s air ambulance colossus
  • $17, 000,000.00 for proposed Laurier Brantford/YMCA Athletics-Recreation Complex
  • $310,000,000.00 to cancel Oakville gas plant
  • Managers out numbering staff at LCBO
  • $275,000,000.00 to cancel Mississauga gas plant

that the debt is not weighing on the minds of the Ontario Government.

In presenting the 2013 Ontario Budget, the government says they will practice restraint in spending without extreme measures.  They don’t have to use extreme measures to address the debt head on.  They do have to better understand what is essential spending (care for the sick, disabled and poor—which there are some provisions for) and what is non-essential spending (all day kindergarten—which the Drummond Report said needs to go).

Other spending (if passed), as reported by the National Post*, shows that they still don’t fully understand what essential spending is:

“There will be $45-Million over three years for a new Ontario Music Fund. Among other things, it will “support Ontario’s live music strategy, positioning the province as a leading place to record and perform music.” [Rock concert voice] HELLO MOOSE FACTORY!”

“The Canadian Film Centre gets some coin. There is $9-Million over three years to “support the Centre’s educational programs for advanced film, television and new media.” The Centre, incidentally, is located on pastoral former farmland in the affluent Bayview and York Mills area of Toronto.”

“Ontario has committed $8-Million in 2013-14 to “support Massey Hall’s revitalization.” There was a similar amount for the same building in the federal budget. We can conclude two things: Massey Hall must be pretty much falling apart, and it has an excellent lobbyist.”

Some may say that these handouts are worth it, which is a topic for another post.  Suffice it to say, yes, culture is important. Yes, culture makes our lives immeasurably better.  Unfortunately, it’s not business as usual in Ontario.  All these wonderful programs aren’t going to plug the province’s massive fiscal leak.

The Titanic contained the period’s best technology, furnishings, food, art and music.  As the musicians played on that fateful night, they knew their dulcet tones were not going to save the ship.  All that finery could not plug the Titanic’s massive leak.

Let’s hope that we don’t all meet at the bottom of Lake Ontario.

———

*“Ontario Budget packed with proposals to woo NDP, but Horwath will ‘talk to Ontarians’ before deciding on support,” National Post, 2 May 2013, sec. 1.

 

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