Finding the dollars

Finding the dollars
By Ken Waddell

As provincial governments check out every nook and cranny to find some more income, it may well be time to revisit some ideas from days gone by.
Health care eats up 40 per cent of many provincial budgets. That’s not sustainable. A health care premium should be implemented. Now, as horrifying as it may sound to citizens of the 21st century, health care premiums used to levied in Manitoba. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that health care premiums were dropped. It was the Schreyer NDP government that lifted that “huge” burden off Manitoba resident. Sarcasm noted I’m sure, as the burden was fairly small, a few dollars per month. At $10 per month, per person premiums would raise $144,000,000 per year. Before anyone gets all upset and decries that notion, please be advised that the 1961 Saskatchewan medicare plan brought in by Tommy Douglas had premiums. And Douglas was by no means the “Father of Medicare”. The health plan was based on Matt Anderson’s 1938 municipal plan which required residents to come up with $5 per person per year in a time when that was a substantial amount of money. Perhaps it’s time to go back in history and get real about our health care costs and expectations.
In a addition to health care premiums, what would be wrong with a small fee for each doctor visit? It’s fully expected at the chiropractor’s office, why then not at the medical doctor’s office?
And while the government is seeking new ways to raise money, why not look at cutting some costs?
Here’s some questions to ask.
Highway speeding is an offence but how much police time and dollars should be spent enforcing speed laws?
Marijuana is illegal, and should remain so, but how much time should be spent chasing after grow-ops? If all our enforcement has reduced the amount of available drugs that’s great, but it’s doubtful.
How about the gun registry? Two billion dollars and counting! While some police officers might use the gun registry to check out if there are guns at a certain address, how many policemen would barge into a potentially dangerous situation based on the data base saying there aren’t any guns at a particular house. I doubt if you could find one officer that would make that judgement call. They go in assuming there’s a gun behind every door and so they should.
And how much money should go into arts and cultural funding? Certainly not much based on past practise. The federal government has started to offer matching funding. That’s a good start. Raise $100 and receive a matching grant. It would sure eliminate some of the off the wall crackpot art work that’s been foisted on us in the past.
It won’t be popular but water should be provided at cost, not subsidized by the taxpayers. Use lots of water, pay the price. Use only a little bit, then save some money. It’s pretty simple, but our municipal water systems haven’t been geared that way. They are starting but it’s long overdue.
And how about cheap hydro which was supposed to bring in tons of industry. It basically hasn’t happened and Manitoba has been subsidizing inefficient houses, businesses, heating systems for decades. We waste a lot of electricity. A lot less would be wasted if we were all paying full market prices for hydro. Cheap hydro has become a very expensive sacred cow. Instead of bringing in lots of industry it has killed off efficiency and innovation.
Wind and solar will never compete with water power and especially so if the price of hydro is kept artificially low.
There are some thoughts on how to make money and save money. Let’s see if anybody is listening or if anybody cares.

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