Canadian politeness will be needed in the months ahead

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

One of the items on the South Cariboo Joint Committee’s agenda on May 13 was an update on the impacts of COVID-19 on South Cariboo Recreation. It was reported to the committee that the South Cariboo Rec Centre’s budget isn’t in the red yet with decreased costs offsetting lost revenue.

While that may be a bit of good news, it was also noted that that may not be the case in the future if the centre reopens but there are reduced user fees, for example, if users were to cancel their season or book reduced ice time. Multiple committee members were quick to say that if there was a budget deficit that they didn’t think they should go to taxpayers to make up any potential shortfalls in funding given the current situation.

Last week, during an interview about water usage fees in Lac la Hache, Cariboo Regional District area G director Al Richmond said he could maybe see some grants (that they have applied for) not going ahead this year. That in and of itself wouldn’t be shocking; in 2019 the BC Government pulled funding from the Rural Dividend Fund to give to towns affected by mill closures. Similarly, government, both federal and provincial, is going to have to find some way to pay for the extra expenses and decreases in revenue, whether that’s through increased taxes, loans or funding cuts.

That’s got to be a bit of a worry for both contractors regularly hired by government for projects as well as non-profits who often rely on government funding. A recent report already found that one in five non-profits in the province is at risk of closing due to the pandemic with 74 per cent of non-profits having had a decrease in funding. The report already noted that “regular funding opportunities have been cancelled, money has been shifted to COVID-related needs, and previously planned decisions have been delayed.”

Cutting funding to alleviate some of the deficit will undoubtedly cost jobs as would raising taxes. That means that no matter what path our governments choose over the coming months and years, dissatisfaction with government is likely to grow from the current high approval ratings.

Combined with increased stress across the board from business to families, it’s perhaps increasingly important to practise some extra patience and understanding with each other, as well as to be mindful of our rhetoric in the months ahead.

Canadian politeness may well end up one of our most valuable assets.

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