Whenever it comes to spending cuts, supporters of big government like to try and act as if spending on core services will have to be decimated. Nenshi loves doing that in Calgary when people complain of tax hikes. He likes to ask if people don’t want their streets plowed or if people want policing cuts. There are hundreds of other areas of spending that we could reduce or simply do without altogether. Some of these are some pretty big ticket items on the national and provincial fronts.
In the 21st century, we have utterly no need whatsoever for a State Broadcaster. The CBC was initially formed to help bring information and communication across a very vast country. Broadcasting infrastructure such as local studios and towers did not yet exist and the CBC indeed helped unify the nation in bringing all of that together. Those days however are long gone. Satellite technology ensures that people have access to information whether through radio, television or internet in every corner of the country. While working in the arctic, I never saw a house without a satellite dish. Cellular coverage is available on the ice-roads on the Beafort Sea.
Our State Broadcaster is completely obsolete yet it is costing Canadians $1.2 billion per year. If privatized, I am sure that the infrastructure of the CBC would be worth at least a few billion when sold as well. That money could be dedicated to the national debt thus reducing interest charges thus allowing for more spending on core services. I am sure that most provinces would be happy to dedicate another $100+ million per year to their health expenditures even if indeed it does mean that we will see fewer reruns of Anne of Green Gables and Little Mosque on the Prairie.
Another behemoth of spending that we really don’t require is bilingualism. Let’s face it, aside from Quebec, New Brunswick and to a much lesser degree Ontario, French speakers are in such a tiny minority that it is a joke to really consider the rest of the provinces to be bilingual. Unilingual French speakers are an even smaller minority within a minority. The amount we are spending on this microscopic segment of the population however is not small at all.
Now perhaps a case can be made for enforced bilingual services in some of our Eastern provinces but lets look here in Alberta (the other Western provinces are similar).
In Alberta, 1.9% of our province consider French to be their mother tongue. Only .05% are considered to be unilingual French speakers. Think about that folks because it really is only the unilingual ones we need to be concerned with here when it comes to providing French services. In provincial bilingual spending alone, we spend $2027 per year per unilingual French speaker. With federal spending on top of that the cost becomes much higher.
That sure is a lot of money to spend to ensure that a tiny minority can read the back of a cereal box in their preferred language.
What is the long-term goal for this spending anyway? Is it expected that we will have a large population fluent in both official languages in Alberta? If that is the case, it has been a terrible failure. French is not growing in popular use in Alberta no matter how much we spend on it.
Is it really that impossible to model spending based on actual need?
When will we allow common sense to creep into spending decisions? We are seeing countries all around the world going broke because they thought that they could tax, borrow and spend themselves into prosperity. Those countries are now being forced into considering some almost crippling austerity measures to make up for their past overspending. We are in an envious position in that we have not hit that debt/spending wall yet. We need to get rational about what we spend on and how much.
Where are our priorities? In virtually every poll health and education are the top two concerns voiced by Albertans. Why then are we running short on the aforementioned items while spending billions on luxury programs such as the CBC and bilingualism that only service tiny minorities?
Think to yourself, will your life change radically for the worse if the CBC were privatized? Would Alberta suffer a crippling cultural blow if we no longer spent millions upon millions to accommodate a convenience for .05% of our population?
With more time and research people can find all sorts of areas where spending can be cut without any measurable effect on our core services. We need to remember that when elected officials try to play that bait and switch method in defending the hyper-expenditure increases being made by big government.
We can still maintain a high standard of health and education provision while not raising taxes or overall government expenditures. We have a great deal of spending cuts to make on items that we don’t need however.