I have been watching the growth of the Idle No More movement over the past week and it has really driven home one of my long time sentiments regarding silo thinking within government. To make matters worse too many in the general population don’t even recognize let alone acknowledge how this silo approach affects every day Canadians. I truly hope that the Idle No More movement will at the least open many Canadians eyes as to the interdependence of so many things that contribute to the fabric of our society.
Our current federal government is capitalizing on this silo thought process to back out of their responsibilities in so many ways. Did anybody bother to look at the effects of what hiding the gutting of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the Omnibus Bill would do to other legislation’s and regulations that have an interdependent relationship with this Act? Besides the Indian Act there are many cross jurisdictional issues that come into play. There are agreements that regulate the flow of water from one province to another that will also be impacted by this change. Ask anybody who was flooded out in Manitoba due to a faulty water meter in Saskatchewan. This is why we have universal programs and why the state of universality is embedded in the Charter. How can we as Canadians profess to be a country with so many universal programs when we have a federal government that is focused on dumping all their previous responsibilities on the provinces?
We are seeing that in health care, education, infrastructure work, transportation, employment issues and most recently immigration. All of these issues are being slowly dumped on provincial jurisdictions in a large part because of legislative changes being hidden in these massive omnibus bills. And the average Canadian remains blind to it because they don’t see the effects of this on their day to day life….yet!
This silo thinking process is also rampant among provincial governments as well. In Alberta Family Services for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) case worker regularly deny a services to families without a lot of justification. As an example, a family may request speech therapy for their child just to have it turned without little explanation. The family has the right to appeal and some do. The child then loses anywhere from six to twelve months of treatment time while the appeal is pursued. The appeal can cost upwards of 10 to 15 thousand dollars just to keep a family from accessing two thousand dollars in speech therapy. Meanwhile all of the government costs are being covered by our tax dollars while the family is expected to absorb all of their own costs. But the cost of the appeal comes out of a different budget so FSCD would have us believe they are saving money in their treatment budget. This is not the only program that works this way so please don’t think I am centering out FSCD, it is just the one I have dealt with the most in the last five years.
My response, start using the money effectively while looking at the overall budget process. By locking yourself into this silo thought process you are missing the overall budget perspective. Since it is all taxpayer’s money have you REALLY saved any money? This is only an example but if you look beyond the silo it is costing ALL taxpayers wasted money.
The Idle No More movement is a good example of understanding the interdependence of so many programs out there and an even better example of the ripple effect. When a government decides they are going to save money by directing certain departments or Ministries to cut their budgets by 10% (again just an example) but then turn around and increase another department’s budget by 20% to implement those cost cutting exercises, have they really saved money. There isn’t a lot of logic there. Do these departments not talk to each other? When the federal government decides they are going to save everybody money by cutting the size of the civil service but then turns around and spends over $1.2 billion on contracted services commonly referred to as the “shadow civil service” logic goes out the window.
These are not exceptions I am highlighting; these are becoming a general standard. This is the type of silo thinking that generates grassroots reaction like the Idle No More movement. It is time we all woke up before everything that Canada stood for when I was growing up has been completely eroded. With today’s technology your opinion is a mouse click away from making your voice heard. You now have the ability to speak out without even having to leave the comfort of your living room. You don’t have to march to be part of the Idle No More movement; you just have to send your elected representative an e-mail telling them you are tired of the arrogance coming out of government. These elected officials are our representatives, not our dictators.
Just one man’s opinion.