We are still experiencing the implementation of radical changes announced in the provincial government’s “fall” budget and now there will be another this week.
For those impacted by the changes announced last fall and those who wonder if it will target them this time, there is a sense of trepidation.
It could be argued that the changes so far have not affected people enormously but that is not always the case.
If you are a dependent of a senior you are having to pay less than $65 a month to get Blue Cross coverage now. That may not seem like a lot if you are an elected official with a substantial income. If you are living paycheque to paycheque it can be a hardship.
If you are an AISH recipient the change goes on into the future because AISH payments were de-indexed. What was not announced in the fall budget was the change in the date of monthly payments – no longer a few days before the end of the month but instead on the first of the month.
Recently the minister responsible posted on Twitter reminding AISH recipients to budget for an additional bus pass this month to accommodate this. That tweet seemed to reveal a lack of understanding of what it is like to live on a very limited budget where there is no extra cash tucked away for a rainy day.
Perhaps if you are an elected official being paid more than $175,000 a year the gulf is just to big to fathom and that is a shame.
The government’s push to reduce costs continues and it could be argued is needed. The government does not have its own money, it has to come from the taxpayer. You can’t keep living on credit even if you are the government.
While pushing for the likes of doctors and optometrists to accept large reductions in fees we are not seeing government leading by example though. There has been no announcement to limit travel outside the province to keep expenses in control.
Take a look at the “sunshine list” and there are an eye-popping number of senior government officials in each ministry and they are earning very large salaries. The government has made no mention of reducing some of those positions or indeed the salaries of those people – all non-union.
What if Premier Jason Kenney were to announce a 10 per cent reduction in staffing at those levels and a 20 per cent reduction in their salaries?
If that happened, negotiations may go a little differently on other fronts.