“You know, I am one of those guys, like most people in Canada, we like to help the countries all over the world. But sometimes it makes you wonder”
“We’ve got a guy dying in Toronto waiting 3 hours for an ambulance”
“We got people waiting 7, 8, 10 hours, if they’re lucky, in a waiting room with one doctor for a zillion people.”
“We nickel and dime our doctors, nurses and veterans plus a million other services. Yet we can send almost 50 million to Haiti.”
These words were spoken — actually tweeted — by “Hockey Night In Canada” host and arguably Canada’s greatest living treasure, Don Cherry through his Twitter account. A former NHL player and coach known for his outspoken manner and very — unique — dress style, Cherry is no stranger to controversy for speaking his mind.
These tweets came days before the third anniversary of the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people and destroyed over a million homes in Haiti. Not particularly good timing.
But Cherry does have a point, even if he lacks tact.
Like Cherry, I believe in helping out those who need it. I donated to one of those Haitan relief fund drives, held at the supermarket up the street from where I live. When Superstorm Sandy hit the American East Coast, I donated to the American Relief Fund through the Canadian Red Cross. During my trips downtown for job interviews, more often than not I’ll drop a quarter or even a loonie into a homeless person’s cup. It’s part of my Irish and Scottish heritage to feel sorry for someone going through a bad patch of luck.
However, it’s also part of my Irish and Scottish heritage to question, quite bluntly, financial decisions being made about my money and when I say my money, I mean my tax dollars. I’ve paid into the tax system since I was 16 years old and quite frankly I’ve yet to see a satisfactory return on my investment. We do have a horrendous waiting time for specialists here in Ontario and for a bed in the emergency room. We have an urban infrastructure we can’t seem to find money for to maintain, like our crumbling Gardiner Expressway dropping pieces of itself onto traffic below, yet we always, amazingly, can dig up money to fund art programs here in Toronto.
On top of that, there’s also the insanity of wasting this money when there is an unemployment problem here in Canada. Canada’s national unemployment rate is 7.3% (January 2013). While that might make us the envy of other countries, particularly those belonging to the G8, there’s no excuse for the rate to be that high for a country like Canada that has such an abundance of natural resources and a well-educated and highly-motivated workforce. Ontario’s unemployment rate is 7.9% and Toronto’s local unemployment rate is still stubbornly high above the national average at 8.2% (December 2012).
I don’t need to see these numbers to know there’s an unemployment problem. I’ve been facing it every day for three years trying my best to find a full time job and I know I’m not alone in this, yet the powers that be can’t seem to prioritize where the money needs to go for the important things I’ve listed above.
As a country, are we indeed nuts for not getting this?
Thanks for reading!