On March 25, 2009 the Ontario Government tabled its budget for 2009-10. There was much speculation regarding its contents in light of the current recession and prior announcements by the Federal Government with respect to cost-shared infrastructure spending. When it finally did come out it became clear that this is a very different Ontario than it was a few years ago, and the government of the day must focus on different challenges, specifically economic challenges as it plans for the future.
The Ontario budget was in many ways like the Federal Budget that was passed not long before it. Just like the Feds, the Liberal government is approaching this recession with the strategy of deficit spending to infuse the economy in hopes that it will once again rise to prominence in Canada and the world. It announced a $3.9 billion deficit for the current year and $14.1 billion for 2009-10. It included vast infrastructure spending and the highly contentious topic of harmonizing its sales tax with the GST, a move that will undoubtedly have profound effects on some people and businesses. (Government of Ontario, 2009).
Crime prevention needs to be the focus of spending in the future, not tougher crime legislation that the current government is proposing. Crime is not something that just happens, it is rooted in social problems, and therefore the money that is being spent on tougher laws and increased sentences could be better spent on social programs that would prevent crime altogether. A dollar spent on prevention can save countless dollars in the future.
[...] The best strategy for reducing crime is not implementing tough on crime' legislation, as this does not address the root problems of crime, the best approach is to increase social development that serve to strengthen people, their families and their communities. (NCPCC, 1996). Social development programs seek to focus on factors that are linked with youth delinquency and adult criminal activity. For example, many people are driven to take part in crime, not because they are bad people but because they have been neglected by the system. [...]
[...] Canada and south of the border will find its way into Ontario's economy and will play a part of helping Ontario improve its economic fortunes. Until then though, the Liberal government decided that this is a good time to introduce deficit spending as a means of spurring the economy. The Liberal's focus on infrastructure spending is a positive aspect of the budget. This will allow Ontario to create jobs and stimulate growth while also improving its transportation grid, its health care system, and social programs like the improvement and creation of more social housing. [...]
[...] It is the harmonized sales tax though that might have the other effect. Unlike businesses who were benefited from the budget, this tax does not benefit the consumer, it places an additional economic burden on them and will likely result in less spending. (Ministry of Finance, 2009). Overall, Ontario's new budget does show that it is facing the challenges posed by the global economic downturn, and the province had done much to address this problem, most notably through their strategy of spending their way out of the recession through record deficit spending. [...]
[...] When broadly evaluated, the budget tabled by Ontario does address the challenges facing Ontario over the next two years, but also includes a big political gamble in the form of the harmonized sales tax. The province is intent on spending its way out of the recession as it is bringing on large deficit spending, but of course is compromising the consumer. This raises the question of how effective the measures will be as consumers will likely have to curtail much of their spending in light of the 8 percent increase that they will encounter for much of their goods and services that they buy. [...]
[...] What is needed though is a greater commitment to balancing the spending between the control of crime and crime prevention. As the global recession is affecting Canada, Canadians and the politicians they entrust to govern must make greater efforts to use finite resources more wisely, in a way that will bring about the most favorable results with the least amount of spending. In this way, spending money on attacking the root problem of crime will be more effective then just building more prisons that can hold people for longer amounts of time. [...]
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