Don Drummond has thrown the fat in the fire. If you lived through the Harris years, Martin Regg Cohen writes, you're going to remember what is about to happen again. But this time, he predicts, it will be different:
Rather than across-the-board cuts from the late ’90s, look for out-of-the-box thinking: No welfare cuts or reckless hospital closings, but consolidation and transformation. And communication.
It would be nice if that happens. We're seeing the Harris scenario unfold in Ottawa as several of his alumni attempt to steer the ship of state. But, even if the McGunity government goes about making the cuts differently, it's going to be difficult to get Ontarians to buy the notion of shared sacrifice. We have lived through thirty years of unbridled individualism. A whole generation knows no other way.
Drummond says that we must:
Fix universities. Merge hospitals. Integrate the system. Cut business grants by one-third. Revisit corporate tax subsidies, rather than renewing them automatically. Cut subsidies for green energy.
All easier said than done. Government cuts could mean lots of lost jobs. And, if that happens, tax receipts will go down, not up. The cuts could cause the deficit to rise. Now the hard part begins.