I sure would like to see some government relief from these skyrocketing natural gas prices, wouldn’t you? The provincial government has been hinting that it might finally break down and oblige. There’s an election to be fought, after all, and nothing wins votes better than cold hard cash.
Still, I would be more than willing to forgo any measly rebate our family might see if the government would do the truly needful thing and fulfill its responsibility to the public institutions of this province.
Hospitals, schools and other public bodies are slowly being suffocated under the weight of added energy costs. Yet, in spite of the fact that it has realized record profits from hydro and natural gas royalties, the provincial government refuses to offer any help to these institutions.
The NDP has always been firm in asserting its right to legislative jurisdiction over such areas as health care and education even to the point of neutering them of any local input or control. Yet it refuses to acknowledge the concomitant responsibility it has to properly fund those jurisdictions even with the money it has pilfered from them.
Take the education system, for instance.
Natural gas hikes have meant more money than ever is being diverted to the necessary if peripheral cost of keeping buildings warm. Natural gas hikes have also meant more money than ever pouring into government coffers from royalties on natural gas revenues.
The simple solution would be for the provincial government to return those unexpected extra revenues in proportion to each school district’s share of unexpected extra costs.
But then this government has never been big on common sense solutions (nor, it should be added, has it been much concerned with ethics). Instead, it has decided to throw the cash into general revenue, where it can theoretically be used to make the government look fiscally responsible.
Meanwhile, school districts around the province are forced to go to extreme lengths to find hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Many districts are actually looking at laying off teachers just so they can pay the added heating costs.
Such a failure on the part of this government demonstrates that it has become more than ludicrous. It has become immoral.
Make no mistake: this is not about “helping” school districts with added costs. It is about the government living up to its responsibility to guard and make strong publicly-funded institutions.
Until this government lives up to its obligations, we can only assume that it sees nothing wrong with breaking the public trust. Again.