Like a broken smartphone app


Money woes. Food woes. Housing woes. Healthcare woes. We all seem to complain a lot, don’t we? I often worry that the discourse in the community is disproportionately negative. It seems like so many are struggling in the current economy, individuals, families, and businesses alike, that we always have plenty of complaining to do. Often, our complaints are repetitive, unchanging, and deal with some of the most basic necessities of life that we used to take for granted, like food and shelter.

Before adding too much to that complaining, I will point out that there is much to celebrate in our community. There is support for those who need it (food banks, “buy nothing” social media groups, etc.), and we have seen in these past years that a bad economy can never get in the way of the amazing opportunities for recreation that North Grenville has to offer. Economic hardship also doesn’t stop us from supporting one another in times like traffic accidents, medical emergencies, and lost pets, just to name a few examples. There is ample good in the world and in North Grenville, but sometimes, the loudest critics of what is wrong in the world are the ones who effect the most change. 

Is there merit to complaining? Has North Grenville become too negative? When it comes to perpetual complaining, there is no doubt that it can be annoying. There is even an old adage, “sounding like a broken record”, used to convey the annoyance of repeating oneself over and over. Last week, I was growing frustrated with my group of kids at the school I work at, and told them I was “starting to sound like a broken record” with how many times I must instruct them to line up properly. Met with almost universally blank stares, I switched my example to “like a broken…CD player?” Evident that it was still not clicking, I tried “like a broken iPod” before finally landing on “like a smartphone with a broken YouTube Music or Apple Music app that just keeps repeating over and over”. Aha! Success! Repeating oneself in 2023 sounds like a broken smartphone app.

In this issue of the Times, you’ll read, along with your usual assortment of local news and content, a Letter to the Editor written by Colin Creasey. In his letter, Colin points out that Ontario spends less per capita on our healthcare system than any other province. My own research suggests that we are actually second last, ahead of New Brunswick by a hair, but still, wow! Now THAT is something to complain about. No one should have to wait as long to see a doctor as we have to wait in Ontario. It is shameful, and even more so knowing that it’s because the provincial government is simply too cheap to properly fund the healthcare system. It is well known that there is a nursing shortage in this province. In 2021, the provincial government capped wage increases for nurses at 1% per year. This is well below the rate of inflation, effectively meaning that nurses took a pay cut when considering the buying power of their salaries in an increasingly difficult economy. It’s no wonder there is a nursing shortage. We saved a dime and created 10 hour hospital waiting times.

I am not oblivious to government debt, and the need to start saving more dollars at the government level to pay down that debt. The problem is that there is always somewhere dollars can come from to achieve savings. The recent move, in early 2022, to eliminate vehicle registration renewal fees in this province makes no sense to me. The province manages thousands of kilometres of roads. Someone needs to pay for those roads to be paved, cleared, and patrolled. As a frequent driver, I had no problem paying an annual registration fee to contribute to the management of roads in my province. Eliminating that fee was nothing but a political move right before an election, attached to a hip slogan of “putting more of your money back in your pocket”. I’m sure the average local guy who cycles to work really appreciates the fact that his healthcare taxes are now paving Highway 400 in Toronto. Sarcasm intended. Priorities are muddled both provincially and federally in this country. There is too much focus on buying votes, and not enough focus on buying value for constituents. 

I would wager that a significant portion of readers don’t realize that Ontarians who earn more than $20,000 per year pay for our health cards. That’s right – the “Ontario Health Premium” is a part of our yearly income tax and benefit returns, charging us up to $900 per person out of pocket to funnel money into the health care system. The Health Premium has been in place since 2004, nearly 20 years, and yet a lot of people I mention it to still don’t realize it exists. How appalling is it to realize that not only are we directly charged for healthcare every year, but that those funds can’t even pay for the same per capita spending as almost every other Canadian province manages to dish out?

Sometimes we just have no choice but to complain. I for one am sick of tax dollars being used to buy votes. A recently elected Council member in North Dundas ran on a campaign of taking $0 in salary for his role. He won his seat. I wonder if paying members of provincial and federal parliament far lower salaries, on par with what average Canadians make, would weed out those who only want the job for the financial benefits. Maybe poor politicians would make better politicians. Or maybe a system that allows constituents to set politicians’ salaries and give (or take away) bonuses would keep them honest and working for the people. It’s nothing more than a dream, but I’d be willing to bet it would create that real change we are always after. For now, we will have to sit and hope for fair decision making and good management of tax dollars. After all, we are not the government, we are the governed


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