Adam Radwanski, The Globe and Mail
In a year-and-a-half as premier, Kathleen Wynne has probably spent as much time visiting Ontario’s rural regions and its smaller cities as Dalton McGuinty did in nearly a decade. She has backtracked on policies, such as an end to financial support for horse racing, that rankled those communities. Somewhat dubiously, she served as her own agriculture minister.
In short, Ms. Wynne has made an effort to demonstrate that her Ontario includes more than just Toronto, Ottawa and a few other urban centres, and to ensure the rest of the province doesn’t feel as neglected under her watch as it did under her predecessor’s. And yet as her government seeks to eliminate its $12.5-billion deficit in three years, there is reason to believe Ms. Wynne is on a collision course with the regions to which she has tried to reach out.
The biggest hint came last month in an interview with Treasury Board President Deb Matthews, the most powerful minister in Ms. Wynne’s cabinet and the one charged with leading the fight to get back to balance. “I think across government, we’re more and more moving to a population-based system,” Ms. Matthews said on the subject of “rationalizing” program spending. What she meant, it was fairly clear, was that to meet the needs of fast-growing communities without significantly increasing the overall envelope, it would be necessary to reduce or at least freeze spending in areas where stagnant or shrinking populations are currently overserved by comparison. Read article