On Tuesday, ACOA announced that they were stopping funding to the Regional Economic Development Boards across Atlantic Canada. For some, it means bad news – while others won’t even miss them gone. The boards have been around for 10 years or more, which is a pretty good lifespan for Government to be committed to one idea, but nevertheless, for this region it’s a fairly big loss.
Businesses and municipalities relied on the Emerald Zone Corporation and their counterparts across the province to research, work towards, lobby for and advise on a whole wealth of issues relating to the economy. Some great things were accomplished in the past, and some great things were coming down the pipe, but now with this announcement, all that is no doubt up in the air.
What rubs salt in the wound most, though, is that the decision to cut the boards was a cost-saving measure above everything else.
I know, the Federal Government says it was an effort to prevent duplication – but to be frank, you don’t cut a 10-year program to prevent duplication.
Even if it is duplicated, why should the older program be cut? Isn’t the newer program at fault for duplicating what the old one was doing? And if REDB’s are the newer program, why were they going for 10 years before someone realized one day, “hey, you know we’re just repeating everything here”?
It’s a sentiment of the Harper Government like nothing else. Mere minutes after news got out about the cuts, ACOA issued a News Release talking about how much money they’re putting into the Atlantic Innovation Fund.
$49 million dollars, to be exact – a sign, they say, of their commitment to business and innovation in this part of the country.
Although that $49 million isn’t going to go very far if people don’t have the knowledge, know-how, and sheer will to go after it. That’s where these boards came in. They advised on what was needed, what was available, and helped people achieve the goals and aims they set out for themselves – which was good for everyone around.
It’s the Harper way – treat people like idiots and tell yourself they don’t know any better. Well, I say no more. Today, I call for action. I call for people to say no more. We have heard enough, we have seen enough, and we have hurt enough. We are tired of being treated unfairly, and we are tired of what a Government that 24% of the country wanted is doing to us. -
They were non-profit, which means they got barely enough money to pay rent, and by goodness, they did good work.
Now, though, I suspect I know what will happen.
Give us a couple of years – probably around election time, to be exact – and the RED Boards will be gone, the program money will still be available from the Feds, and the business and innovation community is still struggling, because they have no idea how to maneuver the tedious and complicated process around getting support from, or knowing what’s available through these wonderful Government agencies.
So the money just sits there – waiting, and waiting, and then, out of nowhere, another News Release. This time, it’s to explain how ACOA has a record low amount of applications for funding from businesses in the last two years.
We’ll all sit back, and know the reason for that is because the people who knew how to do that best, and how to help those who didn’t, are now moved on to other pastures. But what will the Government say?
“Look how good of a job we did on the economy – people don’t even need our money anymore.”
It’s the Harper way – treat people like idiots and tell yourself they don’t know any better. Well, I say no more.
Today, I call for action. I call for people to say no more. We have heard enough, we have seen enough, and we have hurt enough. We are tired of being treated unfairly, and we are tired of what a Government that 24% of the country wanted is doing to us.
Enough is enough – the time is now, to send these people a message loud and clear.
Start doing what’s in our best interest, and not for your own political gain. Don’t play politics with our lives, and our futures. In the words of the ’ 80s classic, “We’re not gonna take it, anymore.”