Taking a 5% Rollback…..

Wow, I haven’t blogged in so long that I no longer recognize my dashboard!  Where have I been?  Blogging mostly at my class blog (www.mrsolthof.blogspot.ca) but I’ve returned here because my Grade 6 blog is no place to express what I’m thinking about our current government……

And it ain’t pretty.

Prentice this week took a 5% chunk out of his own $200K+ salary, a gesture that was remarked on by many as firing the first shot in many battles to come.  But wait?  How can Prentice cutting his own salary be a bad thing?

Well for starters, you know he’s coming after public sector workers next.  He’s already said many things about how the public sector is paid nearly 12% more than the average across Canada – a figure I don’t dispute.  Of course many followed up by then stating that the PRIVATE sector in this province is paid a whopping 26% more than the average across Canada.  I’ve noticed that few people have remarked on how freaking expensive it is to live in this province!  I have a mortgage on an average sized house in a small rural community that my teaching counter parts in the Atlantic provinces would assume is a 7000 square foot monstrosity if they saw what I paid for it.  I have to take a $20 bill with me to buy a single loaf of bread, 2L of milk, and a package of cheese at the grocery store.  I’m not living a grand life here folks!  I’m living what most would consider to be a comfortable middle class lifestyle.

To be honest, even though both my husband and I are teachers, a 5% rollback would not be the end of our world.  We would still be able to make our monthly mortgage payments, I can still put food on the table, and I will not have to choose which bills get paid.  Yes, cuts will need to be made.  So where do we trim back?

Well now we get to the interesting part, the reason why many private businesses shouldn’t be so quick to throw public sector employees under the wage rollback bus. My 5% cut is coming out of your pockets because I will do what many other smart people will do and that’s cut out the luxuries I can do without.  The dinners at restaurants with my families.  The shopping trips for things that we want but don’t need.  Those of you in the direct sales/home business categories?  You should be the most terrified because I won’t be buying your tupperware, your leggings, or your fancy nails and smelly stuff.  I know how to trim a budget, and while those of you in the private sector breathe a sigh of relief over not seeing a wage cut yourself, your problem is going to be worse.  Layoffs.

There are over 300,000 public sector wage employees in this province.  5% out of their salaries is going to be felt in someone’s bottom line.

I’m concerned about other members of my family who work for government and aren’t pulling in the kind of money Prentice would have you believe they are earning.  I know people right now who are scraping by and trying to figure out how much they can save by making sure the lights stay off until the darkest possible moment.  Their kids aren’t in sports because they simply can’t afford it.  They are shopping at places like No Frills and going through the day old shelves for the deals on bread and buns.  They are buying products close to expiry dates because those are on sale for 30% off.  They ARE in trouble with a 5% rollback possibility.  And they WILL have to start making some tough decisions that I myself am not facing. Like which spouse gets to take on a night shift job in addition to their full time job.

But my biggest issue?  This government seems to feel entitled to a certain percentage of my pay check just because they are having “a little financial crisis”.  Where were the savings when oil was flowing freely at $110/barrel?  I’ll tell you where it wasn’t going, a savings account.  See this is what financial management will tell you in any situation.  When things are good, you put money aside for the times when they aren’t.  For a province so dependent on oil revenue and who has seen oil prices tank before, you think they would have learned that lesson.  But they didn’t and now they want me to balance the budget with a lofty little term that Prentice has used called, “Burden Sharing”.

The problem is that a 5% burden isn’t equally shared.  The people at the top barely feel a thing while the people at the bottom are left wondering what bills get paid this month.  It’s easy to sign up for a 5% pay cut when that 5% means you might only take three family holidays this year instead of four.  Or that you might, heaven forbid, have to travel in economy instead of business class.

5% to me means no more fancy dinners out, my kids might have to choose one extra curricular instead of 2, clothing will be purchased on sale and with a strict limit, and I’m likely going to have to scale down our family outings this summer.  Thank goodness we own a tent trailer, because I see lots of camping in our future.  Never mind…..we love the outdoors.  I know how to budget and live within my means.  I refuse to cut the money I’m putting aside for my children’s education or the amount we contribute each month into our emergency savings fund.  Hmmmm, maybe I should chat with the finance minister.

But in all seriousness, if Prentice thinks I’m going to just simply smile and nod when he asks for 5% of my paycheck, he’s delusional.  The PC’s have done so well with our province’s finances up until this point, why wouldn’t I just throw more money at them?  Sure.  Makes total sense to me.

He sounds like a bad stock broker.  “Geez, we know we lost it all.  But seriously…..if you just give us another $6 billion, we can turn this thing around!”

Let me go hide my checkbook.

About Cherra-Lynne Olthof

I've been a middle school teacher for my entire career (which began in 2001). Like my students, I too am a life long learner. My goals include helping my students to achieve their goals, support them in their learning, and to encourage them to think "beyond the grade".
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