The downloading of services and responsibilities from senior levels of government onto local municipalities and regional districts is a serious problem.
Under the guise of being good fiscal managers who are concerned with cutting your taxes, the provincial and federal governments of the last 10 years have shamelessly shifted the burden of financing and administering everything from vital social programs to arts and culture development, school materials and programs and environmental protection.
It’s one of the key issues to be considered in the current debate surrounding three important Alternative Approval Processes underway — particularly the one that has been temporarily postponed but helps pave the way to take more local control over the Cowichan weir and Cowichan River watershed.
On one hand, we are always fans of local control. When the person or group responsible is close to home they are almost always more easily held to account and more responsive to the local needs.
On the other hand, senior levels of government have a great deal more money, and more avenues to raise the amounts of money they need. We cannot allow them to shift that funding responsibility onto our property taxes without protest, pretending that the expense has vanished just because it’s now off their books.
For example, as Town of Lake Cowichan councillors noted in our front page story, it’s a terrible idea to shift the duties of ambulance paramedics onto volunteer fire departments.
That kind of medical assistance should not shouldered by volunteers. That is a highly skilled — though underpaid — occupation, not something people should be asked to do with training on the weekends and in the evenings. While firefighters are already given more emergency medical assistance training than the average layperson, they are still not trained to the level of paramedics, nor should they be. We applaud willingness of some firefighters to undergo more training so they can provide more medical assistance, but we decry the penny-pinching that is prompting the idea in the first place.
The province should not be cheaping out on our safety.