Provincial Budgets: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

We reviewed the provincial budgets across Canada to see what ideas jumped out as good political gunslinging and which government’s budgets hit innocent bystanders.

The Good:

Jean Charest’s Quebec Liberals are mired in multiple scandals and miffed about mass protests, but there is one gem in their 2012-13 budget. $7 million will be spent this fiscal year on a new incentive program to encourage installation of solar systems and develop solar energy production in La Belle Province.

In a year when many provinces are slashing infrastructure budgets, even as they face deteriorating roads and bridges, one province is continuing to take on the infrastructure deficit they inherited. Cutting the road budget while the country is still in the gentle signs of economic recovery is not a wise. It’s year three of ‘Pave, Baby, Pave’ in Nova Scotia, with Darrell Dexter’s NDP announcing $281 million to maintain roads.

The Bad:

Ontario’s Liberal government has a massive deficit they may never recover from. They need to spend wisely in health and education. There will be tax increases and cuts. But making seniors pay more of their prescription drug costs, freezing welfare rates, and getting rid of the home repair benefit that pays for emergency plumbing, roof patching and damage due to fire or flooding for welfare recipients will not lead the Dalton McGuinty’s province to economic recovery.

When B.C. Liberals took power in 2001, the provincial debt was at $33 billion. By 2013, that number will top $66 billion. With cuts to federal transfers started by the Chretien/Martin Liberals and the federal axe coming down again on jobs under Harper’s Conservatives, it is a tough time for all provinces including Christy Clark’s to make their way out of the red and into the black. But no province has seen numbers jump like BC’s debt.

The Ugly:

Brad Wall’s conservative Saskatchewan government cut of the province’s Film Tax Credit earned a harsh rebuke from Regina’s Leader Post:

There’s a troubling trend in the recent budget that should concern anyone who cares about how this province is governed.

What I’m talking about is the systematic dismantling and destruction of any program or policy of the former NDP government by the Saskatchewan Party government.

Of course, every government will put its own stamp on the jurisdiction it governs and quite rightly will change, reform or revoke policies and programs that do not conform with its political philosophy or objectives.

What I’m talking about is destroying perfectly good programs, like the Film Employment Tax Credit because the NDP, not the Saskatchewan Party, came up with the idea.

Saskatchewan loves their Corner Gas. What makes this move ugly, instead of just plain bad, is that the Wall government backtracked and announced a different credit for film. The industry has panned it, saying it won’t work.