By Roger Currie
Budget-making is a strange and complex exercise in Canada, depending on the level of government we’re talking about. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and company in Ottawa have yet to bring down their first one, but no one is expecting much in the way of good news.
In Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall is fighting an election after tabling a budget with a deficit of more than $430 million. It’s because the world price of both oil and potash is in the toilet, but it won’t stop Wall from winning a third straight majority in the province.
In Manitoba, Greg Selinger’s NDP has been in government for almost 17 years. They don’t dare bring down a budget before voters mark their ballots on April 19.
What about city hall? Municipalities are still between a rock and a hard place in Canada, especially when it comes to money. They can’t do much of anything on their own without provincial approval, and their largest source of revenue continues to be property taxes. It’s been that way for many decades, even though a majority of Canadians live in cities. We need sewer and water services and roads and bridges. The infrastructure deficit is in the billions and continuing to grow.
In Winnipeg, a new budget has been tabled which includes dozens of new and higher fees designed to generate a few million bucks in new revenue. A special award for creativity should go to whoever decided that wedded bliss could help pay for sidewalks and sewer pipes. Once the budget is passed, couples in Winnipeg will be able to go to city hall and get married, just like it happened when movies were in back and white. It will only cost $500!
What do you think? Will Winnipeg newlyweds have to take a number to tie the knot? The Toronto Maple Leafs might have a better shot at winning the Stanley Cup before 2020.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.