Why do Ontario and Quebec have all the benefits?
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
Many Canadians enjoy the same benefits across the country. We all have the same Charter, the same (federal) taxes, and the same national laws. However, provincial laws, taxes, and other financial matters can and do vary greatly by the province. This does not serve to create equality for all Canadians.
The instability in Canada could lead us to experience a situation similar to that in the US, where different states and regions are distinct enough that they are almost separate countries. The living standards and inequality that varies from state to state wildly affect the culture and economy of the area. More importantly, it affects the rights of citizens on a national level, which divides the country.
The minimum wage in Canada varies from province to province. While the cost of living also varies, prices are still somewhat similar in areas across the country. Urban areas tend to be more expensive, with rural areas being cheaper but with far less resources. Why should a person doing the same job in British Columbia make less than someone in Alberta, simply because of where they live?
It’s not right that we Canadians have different incomes, laws, and opportunities based on the area we live. We pride ourselves on national unity, but we can’t even agree if a person should be allowed to buy alcohol at age 18 or 19.
Ontario has lately seen a huge string of progressive policies. The minimum wage is set to go up to $15 by January 1, 2019, college education is becoming free, and a “basic income” funding pilot project is in the works. Almost a third of Canada lives in Ontario, and I think it’s great that these parts of the population get to enjoy the benefits. However, it does a great disservice to the rest of the country by not providing the same equity.
Manitoba, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland have tuition freeze laws in effect, so that the cost of post-secondary education cannot get any higher. These policies do not extend to other provinces (even though BC previously had one in place), which hurts anyone who chooses to go to school in these areas. Canadians constantly move from other provinces to go to school in cheaper places. A national consensus on education costs and rights needs to be established.
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically guarantees citizens the rights to pursue the gaining of a livelihood in any province. Yet an individual living in Ontario suddenly earns a much larger minimum wage and has access to free tuition.
If the federal government wanted to, it could work with premiers to provide these or similar benefits for the population as a whole. The Liberal government is a centrist administration that believes in “strengthening the middle class.” In the end, this rewards areas with strong economies and large populations and punishes the people further from those areas.