Have you ever lived next to a profligate person who takes advantage of the social safety net?
You know the stories.
That stereotypical fisherman who works two months a year, owns an $80,000 Hummer and a house, and collects a huge EI cheque the other 10 months.
Or the young guy on social assistance, who’s selling drugs while living in subsidized housing. That guy has so much cash that he can toss a perfectly good 32-inch TV on the curb in the rain after buying a new flatscreen.
It’s gross, really.
And it’s irksome.
At the very least, these people are getting more than they need. Or deserve.
And they’re depriving others who might need help.
They take what they get for granted, and then they waste it.
It’s enough to raise the most placid person’s blood pressure.
Here’s some good news.
Ottawa’s record investment in the Yukon will continue well into the future, Finance Minister Dennis Fentie confirmed this week.
So you can rest easy.
“This is all good news to us in the Yukon,” said Fentie.
And so it is.
In the face of a global financial crisis that is gobbling up the collective savings of whole nations (Iceland) and which threatens to drag Canada into a deficit position, the Yukon will continue to enjoy record-setting budgets.
No need to fret over the record growth in the civil service under Fentie’s watch. No need to curb spending.
It’s marvelous, really.
Consider, for a moment, that Canada’s industrial giant, Ontario, has been reduced to a have-not province.
Ontario actually produces something. And it is struggling.
The Yukon doesn’t produce anything of consequence, really, and it’s not.
What an amazing country.
Hell, for years Ontario has backstopped much of Canada’s struggling provinces — like the Yukon.
Now it has been laid low.
And its first federal equalization payment comes with strings attached.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is going to curb spending on the nation’s struggling provinces, like Ontario, by making equalization payments dependent on economic growth.
It’s almost funny.
And here’s the kicker — that restraint doesn’t apply to territories.
They are immune to such conditions, noted Fentie after a meeting of finance ministers in Toronto earlier this week.
So, at least for the immediate future, grants to the Yukon will only increase.
That federal assistance is tremendous.
A full 80 per cent of the territory’s budget comes from Ottawa. Yukon citizens only contribute 13 per cent of that figure.
We chip in $107 million, and Ottawa gives us $717 million.
What a deal!
The new Building Canada fund alone will deliver an additional $26.1 million to the Yukon every year from 2008 through to 2014.
That’s a ton of cash.
Exempting Whitehorse and Watson Lake, which are already covered, that’s enough money to build new hospitals in every cabinet minister’s riding with enough left over to cover losses incurred through the Finance department’s dubious $36-million investment in asset-backed commercial paper.
It will pay for a slew of $200,000 consultant reports, like the one on FH Collins that suggested that schools should not be big boxes and should provide a comfortable learning environment for students.
Heck, there might even be enough to rebuild that partially finished mouldy health centre in Watson Lake.
Bottom line, the Yukon and its citizens are lucky.
Doubly so, really, because Canada’s a big place.
Can you imagine what folks in Ontario might think if they knew the particulars of this little burg’s sweetheart deal with Ottawa?
And what the Fentie government is doing with it?