Whither Southern Ontario

I continue to be amazed at the welfare mentality coming out of Ontario these days. At a political level, I guess it makes some sense but now even CD Howe and other Ontario think tanks are calling for more EI fairness, a version of the Atl. Canada investment tax credit, etc.

I don’t really have a problem with more Equalization, more EI and mre ITCs for Ontario but they need to tell people the truth about it.  McGuinty will say something like “a person in Ontario gets $4,000 less EI than in New Brunswick”.  

Anywhere in Canada that has high unemployment can access EI more quickly (less weeks) and I believe gets to keep EI longer.  Windsor, Ontario now has a more lucrative EI program than Halifax.  The system is biased towards regions that have higher unemployment.

What McGuinty and CD Howe should say is that they want no bias in favour of regions with high unemployment.  That is the truth of the matter.  They want a fundamental restructuring of EI which all along has been used as a tool to provide more relief to high unemployment regions.  They want that imbalance removed.

Fair enough.  I don’t even necessarily disagree but to say that people in Atl. Canada get more EI is misrepresenting the facts. The reality is that Ontario workers, on average, make more than those down here so they will get far more EI if the system is completely equalized across the board. 

So, McGuinty will have achieved his goal.  He wrung equalized health care funding out of Ottawa.  He wrung Equalization out of Ottawa.  It looks like he will get more EI out of Ottawa….

…and his economy is in the tank.

Maybe Ontario needs to get back to focusing on economic growth and new economy sectors instead of trying to hold on to the past.  If McGuinty’s goal is to become New Brunswick, I would put it to you that we would gladly become the Ontario of the late 1990s early 2000s.

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6 Responses to Whither Southern Ontario

  1. give me a break says:

    Perhaps our “culture of defeat” is contagious?

    Scary to see this since, with the exception of some Quebec hush money, Ontario has received billions in hand outs, modified tax, trade and transportation policy for their benefit and has been the focal point of Federal ED efforts for decades. What more do they expect?

  2. mikel says:

    Actually, what he’s doing is voicing a complaint that has gone unnoticed in political discussions for YEARS. Ottawa has largely built its ‘lower taxes’ and deficit spending on the back of a massive EI surplus. Notice how Fraser and CD Howe are now practically SCREAMING for what they say is one of the worst forms of tax-the capital gains tax. They’ve completely forgotten about payroll taxes and actually think that capital gains is a key out of recession.

    But for years there was the occasional story in ontario about how if you got laid off in Toronto you couldn’t get EI. EI is THE main program for people to enhance their education. So if you got laid off in Toronto at your consulting job, you couldn’t get EI to update your education because Tim Horton’s is always hiring-and of course you have to work twice as hard to make ends meet. I know several guys in sales who are past their prime and have noticed companies here have a pattern. They hire these guys at good wages, then use their experience to train their assistants and get all their leads, then fire them after a year and hire their assistants to do their job at much lower salary.

    That’s BEEN a complaint for years, its only now that enough ontarians are ‘on the dole’ that its getting mainstream coverage. And this even though for the past two decades ‘lifelong learning’ has been a mainstay of our culture. It’s always expected that workers are supposed to be learning new skills constantly-they just aren’t allowed to take part in federal programs to do so, and are expected to learn them when they aren’t working.

    So again, its not southern ontario’s fault that the maritimes and other disenfranchised areas don’t have the representation to address this issue (well, it sort of is). The NDP is the only party that even has a POLICY, and I think there is maybe two NDP MP’s in all the maritimes.

    As shown so often in this blog, the media in New Brunswick never even so much as comments on EI issues, the Irving fear of course has actually been a labour shortage. And where EI is the biggest issue-the north, barely even gets coverage in the south.

    So yes, all those things above are true, BUT its a question of ontario having the voice that the maritimes lack. These are issues that absolutely SHOULD have been given treatment for decades, only now that its effected the place with the most representation does it become an issue.

  3. We need Ontario to have a strong economy. As goes Ontario, in many ways, so goes Canada. I’m just not sure that pursuing more out of these government programs meant for poor regions (the EI, Equalization, that ITC they keep talking about) is going to help Ontario grow a stronger, 21st century economy.

    And the other point I have made before but need to keep repeating is that I am disturbed by the increasing focus on “per capita”. In other words, many politicians and policy makers see the economy as a pie that needs to be sliced up and it is their job to ensure that they get as much of the pie as possible. So, Ontario wants more health money, its share of EI, its share of Equalization, etc. New Brunswick wants its share of economic development and it’s the role of leaders to bring that share home.

    At some point, these guys/gals need to figure out how to increase the size of the pie. That’s economic development. Not haggling over who has the right to more EI. I don’t want New Brunswick to take FDI away from Ontario. I want Ontario, New Brunswick and the rest of the provinces to develop what level of private business investment they need to have the kind of economic development they want and then provincial and national strategies should attempt to support those goals. There is no way that government can engineer perfect economic development but it can have objectives and it can develop policies and programs to support those objectives. For example, if New Brunswick decides that it wants to develop a serious industrial manufacturing capacity in Northern NB anchored by the Port of Belledune, then it should set its targets: 20 new manufacturing firms by 2015, 4,000 more above average wage manufacturing jobs, etc. and then go make it happen.

    If we continue to fight and haggle over who gets what in the current economic pie without working on growing the pie, I fear that New Brunswick is is trouble. We don’t have the political clout. Ontario can have its EI, its Equalization, its per capita transfers but that implies that New Brunswick must have new own-source revenues over time to compensate.

  4. richard says:

    “We don’t have the political clout.”

    We don’t have much clout to be sure. During period of minority govt, we have a bit more, but I see little sign of it being put to good use. Graham is focused almost soley on generating enough construction jobs to get re-elected; I see no indication of any planning beyond that. And what’s worse, no evidence of any political pressure on Graham to e.g. set those high-paid job targets and devise a real strategy to deliver.
    As you say, without meaningful growth in high-paying jobs, we are heading for big trouble.

  5. mikel says:

    Again, politicians follow the public to a large extent. This is a province with two virtually identical parties and no other political alternative anywhere on the horizon. Worse than that, there are no organizations pushing any kind of clear alternative. I mentioned this before, that the maritimes best bet would be to elect a whole slew of NDP members. The NDP would not only hold the balance of power, but the maritime NDPers would hold the balance of power within the party (the NDP is far more grassroots than the other two parties).

    Short of that, its disappointing to see the “Atlantica Party” pushing itself forward as ONLY a provincial party. It makes far more sense for an Atlantica Party to be federal. But without public pressure, politicians bend their ears to the people talking loudest to them. Its unfortunate, but its reality.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Ontario’s unemployment was always around 450,000 people,so that argument doesn’t work.
    And Central Canada has been losing jobs since 2001.80,000

    I say Eastern Canada has seen its best, for a long time. And we certainly know why.
    Why do you think the areas brightest minds were trying to join up with the Eastern United States?
    You may note that Irving already has.
    The west stopped its planned pipeline to Quebec.

    As the provinces learn the same accounting tricks as quebec and the transfer payments dry up you better hope we find lots of oil.

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