Government should focus on essential services, not booze and pot sales
The following commentary appeared in The Daily Gleaner September 5th 2017
Back in 2014 the People’s Alliance campaigned on one of our promises to release NB Liquor into the private sector, a move that would save millions annually and lower prices, all the while retaining every dime of profit the agency currently receives in revenue to the province. Many people agreed that this was a well thought out idea that made sense, especially considering the huge deficit and over burdened government system that continues to deteriorate here in New Brunswick.
However, both the Liberal and Tory parties balked at the idea, without any real explanation as to why. By this time next year the Gallant government will double down and no doubt create yet another crown corporation to sell marijuana. This will further burden the system and stifle economic growth in the private sector. Government should not be in the business of selling beer and cannabis. Instead, government should be concerning itself with effectively administering things like healthcare, education, and infrastructure while leaving the non-essentials to the private sector, albeit with reasonable regulations that are strictly enforced.
Governments of both stripes are willing to allow the taxpayer to foot the bill for administering the sale of beer and (eventually) marijuana, but when it comes to healthcare they are all too quick to privatize. Just look at the most recent announcement concerning the government’s decision to privatize management within the extramural program. There are several things wrong with this plan. First, the move will actually cost taxpayers more by the government’s own admission. It will drive costs up, including an incentive program that will cost taxpayers an additional $4.4 million annually. Secondly, the process was not given to open tender but instead delivered directly into the hands of Medavie. And, if you want to know how Medavie runs it’s operations, just look at all the complaints from municipalities and the public alike over response times in rural areas with Ambulance New Brunswick. Thirdly, Health Minister Victor Boudreau made the announcement on a Friday afternoon during the long weekend. While parents are shopping for back to school items, spending one last weekend at the cottage, or just getting away with family, out comes a significant announcement like this. Contrast Friday’s extramural announcement with that of the Prime Minister and Premier last Wednesday announcing the allocation of $71 million to child care services and you can quickly see which one they want people talking about. It’s the old political smoke and mirrors trick, and let’s face it, if the government was confident in the move and it’s ability to convince the public they would have announced it before or after the long weekend.
Increased cost, no open tendering process, and announcing it to the public during the long weekend should raise a few red flags of what this means for the taxpayer and those in need of extramural care.
The People’s Alliance is not opposed to changes that make sense. In reality, we are the only party that has the vision and determination to think outside the box and do what is needed to eliminate the deficit, reduce taxes, and improve the economy. Millions of dollars can be saved annually if government had the willingness to tackle the wasteful things that they continue to do. Extramural care on the other hand should be a service provided by the taxpayer, because if the Liberal or Conservative parties cannot manage the basics of government, then how can we expect anything to improve?
People’s Alliance Party