Taps Always Open for Private Profit at Public Expense

Taps Always Open for Private Profit at Public Expense

As published in the Hill Times: 14 Dec. 2022

I noticed this Toronto Sun editorial comment at the end of a Nov. 23 reader’s letter on worker’s wages:

“(With government, expanding constantly, and offering more and more services we cannot afford, the money has to come from somewhere)”

There is one service that government eagerly subsidizes: private profit at public risk and expense. Perhaps the editors are unaware of the following information.

For decades, both the federal and all provincial governments have been so deeply committed to corporate subsidy that it has become a permanent part of the economy. I am not aware of any instances where mainstream commentators or neoliberal think tank figures have quit their posts in protest.

A recent study from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy reported that Canada’s federal government and four largest provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia) made a yearly collective investment of about $29 billion public dollars. This includes tax benefits, spending programs, direct grants and subsidized enterprises like the Trans Mountain oil pipeline which enjoyed $320 million in public subsidies last year. In comparison, Canada spends approximately $25 billion per year on the military.

Advocates of greater social program spending note that Canada ranks 25th out of the 37 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in spending on social services. Now that so-called austerity measures and tax cuts have become normalized, governments feel comfortable in rejecting calls for social program spending while a regime of generous corporate subsidies continues.

Morgan Duchesney
Ottawa Canada