The most extreme fiscal conservatives may long for immediate balanced budgets at any cost. However, most conservative (and liberal) governments are elected to better allocate resources, whatever that may call for.
Ontarians certainly wanted to see the provincial deficit decrease when they elected their new government. That being said, just as there are certain places where most want to see decreased government spending, other government initiatives can expect to remain popular.
This morning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s government announced that the government would invest $633 million towards building two new seven-storey CAMH facilities.
He was joined on the stage by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, as well as Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure.
CAMH, or the Centre for Addition and Mental Health, as its name suggests is a publicly-funded hospital that focuses on the research, education, and treatment of addiction and mental health problems.
The “Crisis and Critical Care Building” will provide 24/7 emergency care and include a number of specialized clinics. The “McCain Complex Care and Recovery Centre” will support patients with serious issues through specialized programs and services, and contribute to CAMH’s ongoing research and education efforts as well. The two facilities combined will increase the number of inpatient beds in the province by 235.
In a political environment when first ministers are often accused of favouring certain electoral districts over others for political reasons, it might be worth pointing out that the two new facilities will be built in the riding of Spadina—Fort York. The MPP for that riding is the NDP’s Critic for Colleges and Universities, Chris Glover.
Hope for a Measured Approach
While we can expect government spending cuts elsewhere to continue inciting loud opposition. This may be a sign for Ontario that, as promised, the government cuts will come from measured analyses, “line item by line item“.
Backlash to ambitious reforms led to the election of the disastrous 15-year Liberal government in Ontario. It appears that the current Ford government is keeping the political backlash in mind while continuing the march towards fiscal responsibility.
It is slightly reminiscent of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s masterful balancing of trade deals, to ensure that each new deal would receive majority support despite any possible backlash from a loud minority.
Bringing the Province Back on Track
At the same announcement, the government announced $1.9 billion in other healthcare spending increases, no decrease in funding for the Pride parade, among other things. Earlier on in the day, they announced that full-day kindergarten will be continued for the 2019-20 school year.
Media were quick to jump on the fact that nothing was said about the future of full-day kindergarten in future years.
But it may just be that managing the provincial public wallet maturely involves less hasty multi-year commitments and a great reluctance to take cuts to expensive minor programs off the table.
Here’s hoping that Premier Ford shuts his ears to the screeching of the downtown core and continues to make the difficult decisions that he was elected to make.