Show me the money!

As we see the Province of Nova Scotia gearing up for an election, with great anticipation, we are all becoming well educated in the greater list of reasons why we never seem to get ahead here. The recent Teachers’ Labour Dispute, drew a lot of citizens into the fold, wondering what exactly is going on in Nova Scotia politics. Other than the 1% who seem content with everything being slashed from budgets for the past number of years, no one seems to be benefiting at appropriate levels from the amount of taxes we pay.

And the people are becoming less complacent. While a larger part of the population will only see or hear the big story, it is a growing part of the population who have begun looking more closely at the smaller nuances, that add up to immense corruption, and are an even bigger story than those we see highlighted by opposition or in a brief news bit.

Corruption comes in many forms. Patronage, Partisanship. Closed door deals. Spending.

We can’t afford new hospitals, we can’t pay doctors enough, or hire enough to keep up. We can’t afford to give teachers the salaries and supplies they require. We can’t afford proper care for or housing for our seniors. We can’t afford to fix our roads, and upgrade the ones that need it. We can’t afford the nurses. We can’t afford…. Yet Nova Scotians have paid more and more into the broken bank of Nova Scotia’s general fund for far too many years to remember, with the idea that we are benefiting…. for us to be this broke.

So where does our money go?

At this point, it is hard to accept the numbers quoted by government. I barely believe anything they claim anymore, and the generalization of public accounts as “miscellaneous” department expenses that add up to millions and millions is hiding much. It says a lot when a member of the public thinks everything government presents is bullshit. Especially this member of the public, who until about 5 or 6 years ago, was in the dark. I expected, yes expected, that government was doing what they are supposed to be doing with the money. There was an expense scandal and new rules were supposed to clean that up.

Since 2010, when the shit hit the fan, it is incredible how much money still gets spent, and the logic of ‘it’s allowed” being the primary justification for it. Since 2015, when the Liberals passed austerity legislation, we have seen several MLA’s overspend on their money limits by up to 700%. We watch with horror at the thought that an MLA would spend $9,531 on kitsch, things like fly swatters and tea towels, with their names on them. Not only is that tacky and ridiculous, but $9,531 is 80% of the total annual budget for Feed Nova Scotia – a necessary and urgent priority – for an entire year. And that was only one MLA; in one month. A glaring issue with the monthly expenses is that everyone just buys and rents and uses whatever services and suppliers they like, so the costs for cell packages are all over the map, every MLA just buying what appeals to them, without really going for the most affordable. And it intrigues me that an MLA would need to buy a new computer after being in office only two years. My computer for work is 5 years and works just great. I do not buy $900 tablets, and do not purchase new things just because I can. Who told MLAs it is a free for all? Why do we continue to allow the “use it or lose it” mentality to consume over $3.5 Million every year? Why do we allow MLAs to use our tax dollars to advertise to promote themselves? When people can’t afford food, or communities have no drinking water, or our hospitals are falling down.

We give our tax dollars to large corporations, in large sums. Through, what the government has taken to calling them, “investments”. Those corporations are private enterprise, so we do not know really what they contribute back to Nova Scotia. Well, not economically anyway. They claim they employ 200 or 300 or 30 or so people. But we, the public, have no proof, and if you compare the dollars put into these corporations, do we at least see a net $0 result? There is no need for these organizations to comply with environmental laws, because our government does not set out or enforce appropriate conditions. 

Our current government cut and cut funding to every sector and ignored the value in consulting with stakeholders and experts. They told the world there is no money. Not for hospitals, not for teachers, not for seniors in homes to have proper meals. But then in a rush to buy votes to make up for all the support they lost over bad decisions and unconstitutional legislation, they found $100 Million or more. I have not heard a word about the $100 Million the province owes the federal government in HST, but after 3.5 years of proclaiming the province dead broke, we have gifts for everyone.

The public purse is for the betterment of life for Nova Scotians. It is the fund for health care, education, infrastructure. It is not intended for advertising, buying votes or taking care of your friends.

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