Canadians should brace themselves for more restraint measures in today's federal budget, if the Harper government's aim to balance the books by 2015 and the less-than-glowing reports on the nation's economic growth are any indication. After all, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has only two options if he wants to meet his deadline: cut spending or raise taxes, and he has already said he won't raise taxes.
It's all a question of balance. The blueprint unveiled today outlining government's strategy for the next fiscal year will show whether the Harper government can cut spending in a way that won't hobble public services or inject further uncertainty into the economy. Either consequence would be regressive and counterproductive at a time when Canadians who've lost jobs, or can't find them, may need more - not fewer - social programs and public services.
In its effort to rein in spending, then, Mr. Flaherty must guard against making a bad situation worse.
A close call
A teenage boy who was rescued from a moving ice floe can thank his lucky stars - and some able firefighters - for a safe and happy ending to a close call that could have ended otherwise.
Hopefully his experience will serve as a reminder to other youngsters to think twice before messing with the ice breakup that typically surrounds this island province at this time of year. What look like secure chunks of ice along our shoreline are susceptible to currents and warm temperatures, which means they not only move, they melt. The message to youngsters drawn to those ice floes? Move along.
But what's also worth mentioning is the impressive response of three North River firefighters who, coincidentally, had just completed an ice rescue course last week. With the aid of rescue equipment and a boat, they managed to bring the boy to safety. It's one more demonstration of the vital role our volunteer fire departments play, without much fanfare.
A progressive move
Stratford may be struggling in its attempts to provide public transit, but rather than giving up and pulling the plug, it appears willing to step up its efforts to promote the service.
That's encouraging. It takes time to build a bus service, as has been demonstrated by the City of Charlottetown. That service has grown phenomenally since its start in 2005; with determination and commitment, Stratford could achieve the same result.
Coun. Steve Ogden, chair of safety and services, told Stratford council recently that ridership among residents has been "flatlining." In his view, there's a lack of awareness about the bus service, and he suggested a greater effort at promoting it.
According to the town's transit summary, there was a drop in ridership during both January and February 2013, compared to 2012. Annual ridership has also dropped. More accessible information about the service could "make the difference between riding the bus or not," he said.
He's right. Convenience and accessibility are defining features of any successful transit system, and they require an investment. But it's an investment that should reap worthwhile dividends.