Editorial – Budgeting

This week's editorial takes a look at budgets, from a personal and federal perspective.

Budgeting is difficult. My mother has been trying to teach me the art of budgeting for nearly a decade, and I find that it’s more a cycle of saving and splurging rather than a set budget. With the announcement of the federal budget on Mar. 22, it would appear that the government has the same budgeting philosophy as I do.

After years of strict, almost suffocating budgets under the Harper Conservatives, the Liberals announced a budget that will re-inject funds into federal initiatives, at the cost of a deficit bordering $30 billion, $20 billion more than the Liberals said during their campaign. This is a splurge Canada hasn’t seen in over a decade.

The most interesting part of the budget to me was the $675 million assigned to the CBC. Over the past three years, I have written multiple articles on the lack of funds the government was giving to the national broadcaster, and how it was hurting the country as a whole. And were they ever hurting. Because the CBC is a crown-corporation, they are a zero-budget organization, meaning they have to spend all of their funds by the end of the fiscal year. They don’t have the luxury of saving for a rainy day, like private broadcasting companies such as CTV do. But from the sounds of it, they didn’t have any surplus to even spend.

Stephen Marche is a Canadian writer and columnist for Esquire magazine. He reported he once went to a going away party for a laid off employee at the CBC, where the organization merely provided the hot water and employees had to provide their own tea bags. These became commonly known as “Bring your own tea bag” parties, and illustrate how extreme the funding cuts were under the Harper reign.

With the new funding, I hope the CBC can return to a prosperous company and create healthy newsrooms once again. This splurge is badly needed, but I do wonder what financial state the Liberals will leave us in if they continue to spend with such enthusiasm.

Budgets, while hard to maintain, are important to pay attention to. Elkford and Fernie are both working on their 2016 budgets, detailing how they will spend the municipal tax dollars for the year, and I will be eagerly awaiting the finalized product. I believe paying attention to how local governments spend their tax dollars is important to know, even on the mundane aspects. And it’s comforting to know that both local and federal governments sometimes have as hard a time maintaining their budgets as I do.