January is often seen as an opportunity for new beginnings. This concept is given substance every year when many Canadians make New Year’s Resolutions, informally pledging to try and better themselves over the coming months.
January is also the time of year when all levels of government begin making budget decisions.
Perhaps Canadians should take advantage of this coincidence and resolve to hold every level of government more accountable when it comes to spending money. Though traditional resolutions often focus on issues like weight loss and personal finances, wouldn’t everyone benefit more readily by trimming the bureaucratic fat that surrounds every layer of government? Rather than saving more money, wouldn’t it be easier to have the government take less?
It’s no secret that Canadians pay a lot of taxes. There’s a tax on income, a tax when things are bought, a tax when things are sold, and an extra tax on many frequently consumed items. After taxes come the fees: fees to build a deck, fees to own a dog, fees to renew the plates on the car that runs on heavily taxed fuel. At the end of the day, Canadians will have forty-two cents of every dollar they earn taken from them to fund an ever-growing class of white collar civil servants, who increasingly seem to be the only people getting ahead. It’s downright disgusting.
Still, in principle, most Canadians are understanding of taxation. Most Canadians prefer Universal Health Care, well-funded schools, and functional roadways, and want to see these things funded publicly. After all, some degree of taxation is necessary to maintain a certain equitable standard of living, and fees can help ensure that those who use select services carry most of their costs. However, agreeing with such taxation in theory does not mean that residents should accept wasteful spending. Even proponents of increased taxes should demand that those funds be allocated efficiently.
Unfortunately, Canadians seem to have become apathetic toward corruption and incompetence. It seems like every week there’s a scandal, or a screw up, and millions of dollars- figures that should have people taking up pitchforks- get lost with a shrug. In the Canadian conscious, waste is no longer the exception, it’s the norm.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Canadians can resolve to do better, and to force their governments to do better. Canadians can hold their elected officials accountable. They can do this by staying informed, by attending local council meetings, by writing to their MPs and MPPs. Canadians can resolve to make this the year that they say ‘no!’ to the carefree spending of their hard-fought wages.
It wouldn’t be easy, but then few worthwhile resolutions are. It would require time, and effort, and perseverance. It would require resolve. But it would mean an accountable system that taxpayers could be proud of, one that started working for Canadians, rather than against them.