Helping Out Ontario's Minister Of Finance
Gord had the nerve in one of his columns to suggest that Sandra’s role in the Provincial Government wasn’t important and that she had been moved out of a position of power.
Wow, was he ever wrong! He owes her a huge apology and freedom from columnist attacks until the new year.
She is after all the Mighty MITI Minister whose function it will be to save the Ontario economy.
Think I am joking? To let everybody know about it, and clearly the Premier had to give his seal of approval as well, the following statement was made in the materials distributed by the Ministry of Finance after Dwight's Fall Economic Statement. In the section dealing with “Forming key partnerships,” Sandra’s important role was spelled out for everyone to read:
- “A new Minister of International Trade and Investment will work on promoting Ontario to the world and attracting new investment and trade opportunities.”
Grammatically, it probably should have been written "the" rather than "a" but that is a quibble.
Sandra ought to thank Dwight for that mention except for one thing. Dwight is smart enough to make sure that he remains Numero Uno in Windsor. Unfortunately for Sandra, while she has the job to promote our Province around the world, Dwight has made it a bit more difficult for her to succeed. If Sandra does travel, it looks like she will have to go by herself. Moreover, just like her friend Remo, she may not have any brochures to hand out to prospective investors in the Province.
As part of his cost-cutting, the areas where spending will be reduced include “Reducing government staff travel costs” and “Reducing government printing, photocopying and fax costs.” At least she can still use the telephone or perhaps Dwight wants her to use SKYPE via the Internet since its long-distance rates are very low and she can even have a video camera attached so that investors can see her.
To be serious, one area where I think the Minister of Finances was absolutely wrong in cutting costs was with respect to “Delaying the addition of 50 Family Health Teams by one year” to save $3 million. While that sum is a lot of money to you and me, dear reader, in the scheme of things in the Ontario Budget, it is nothing. The health of thousands of Ontario residents who do not have a family doctor should not be put at risk to save such a small amount of money. As a person who uses the Windsor Health Team, I know its value.
I do not know why the Minister did not phone me for assistance in advance. I would have been able to have helped him solve the financial problems of the Province simply. He would not have had to have whined and cried and begged the Federal Government to send him money nor would he have had to have eaten into the Province’s reserves to keep the deficit under $1 billion.
He could have achieved a terrific result and no one in this City as an example would have attacked him at all. He had the perfect person whom he could have blamed. We would have known immediately if during his speech he said “THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG.” We would have known exactly what he meant and would have said that if our Mayor had acted in the past while money was available we would not have had a problem at all.
The Minister did say that infrastructure money would be used to help create jobs. However, he was not very specific about what he was going to do. He did say that the Province would continue investing in infrastructure. He talked about:
“The Investing in Ontario Act, 2008 (IOA) will provide $1.1 billion to Ontario municipalities this year to improve roads and bridges, expand public transit and build other municipal projects throughout the province
The IOA investment is expected to create 11,000 full-time jobs during the construction period and will make Ontario’s economy more competitive in the long term
ReNew Ontario’s five-year, $30 billion infrastructure investment is building new roads, schools, hospitals, bridges and transit across Ontario
Today, more than 100 major construction projects have been initiated as a result of ReNew Ontario
We have invested a total of $9.9 billion in infrastructure in 2007-08, creating 109,000 full-time equivalent jobs during the construction phase of the projects.
Now that is pretty impressive I must say.
If you look at the Statement made by the Minister, the Province is short about $1 billion. If the Minister had asked me what to do, I would have said to give Windsor the “cheap solution” and not the DRIC road IE the at grade solution from Highway 401 to the Ambassador Bridge. Call it an interim solution so that the Border Infrastructure Fund monies can be used and the Feds would have to contribute 50% of the amount. People would still have high-paying infrastructure jobs but we would not be wasting money. Heck he could upgrade E C Row for a paltry few hundred million dollars more.
The perfect out for the Minister is the economic difficulties that we are having that have resulted in a drastic fall in truck traffic from what DRIC projected. Moreover, the Minister need only refer to his American colleague, the Director of MDOT, who said that we may not need a new bridge until perhaps 2035.
In the circumstances, why spend $1.6 billion on a road that costs 10 times as much as other Ontario roads, which amount will probably escalate to significantly more than that, when you can spend a few hundred million dollars on an “interim” road. There, Minister, I just saved you $1 billion or so and balanced Ontario’s budget.
I wonder if Dwight will thank me for my brilliant suggestion by re-adding me as a friend on his Facebook site. I used to be on it but someone removed me after I BLOGGED something that may have offended the Minister. I trust that I made it up to him now.
The Minister need not worry. This tactic has been used before in Australia as I have BLOGGED previously. When the media ask the Minister how he came up with this wonderful idea to save $1 billion, all that he needs to say is that a little kangaroo told him. Here’s the reference: BLOG, Wednesday, April 11, 2007, “How A Kangaroo Can Save Canada's Economy."