The relentless torrent of free federal money that’s doused every interest group with a pulse across our vast country has now managed to shower even those without one.
Yes, not to be left behind in the rabid rush to grab a share of the borrowed billions our prime minister has lavished here, there and everywhere under the cover of COVID-19, the dead are finally getting their slice of the pork-filled pie.
No, this isn’t some mislaid April Fools column. It’s the strange truth: people who received relief payments from Ottawa that arrived after they’d shuffled off their mortal coils now get to keep the government cash. (Well, at least their beneficiaries do, unless, like some modern-day Egyptian pharaoh, they were buried with the loot.)
A year ago, the Liberals announced a one-time payment of $600 to Canadians with disabilities as yet another form of COVID-19 relief funding. This led to more than 15,000 dearly departed souls getting the handout because of previous registration with the government.
Though it can seem heartless, this at least showed the government retained some degree of financial aptitude for running a country. Ah, but those days are gone.
So, of course, those pandemic payments inadvertently sent to the recently expired weren’t clawed back. Instead, relatives and beneficiaries were told not to bother returning the cash to Ottawa.
Heck, it was only $9 million we’re on about. Today that’s mere chump change, the equivalent of those old pennies we ditched a while back. Except now governments round things up to the nearest billion rather than the closest nickel.
This profligacy is now par for the financial course in Justin Trudeau’s Canada.
A similar thing happened with those self-employed folk who’d erroneously applied for $2,000 a month under the initial emergency pandemic relief program, after getting confused over the difference between previous gross and net income.
So, did they have to pay it back? Don’t be silly. In fact, those who had initially returned the cash on learning they shouldn’t have got it in the first place were subsequently re-sent the money.
Yes, we have entered a new era of government spending, one where future liabilities cease to matter.
In the last financial year, the Canadian government managed to borrow $314 billion, an astronomical sum that manages to escape the rigour of rational thought and subsequent concern only because it’s so darn large. It’s easier to get a grip on the intricacies of Einstein’s theory of general relativity than grasp exactly how much borrowed moolah we’re gorging upon.
And, make no mistake, we are gorging with gusto.
Sure, we had to shore up many individual Canadians and the economy when this pandemic hit, but the borrowing isn’t going to stop once the virus is tamed. Nope, this is our new reality. Think of a program and the government will fund it, complain it isn’t enough and the cheques will double.
That the country now owes more than a trillion bucks federally as well as huge swathes of debt on every provincial balance sheet is of trifling concern to many. Suggest perhaps we might cut back a tad and the instant response is this is no time for austerity.
The bill will be paid by future generations, of course. Perhaps we shouldn’t care, as we’ll all be long gone by then. But hey, maybe our government cheques will still be arriving.