Cheers: to staggering donations. The Bruneaus are back at Memorial University: Angus and Jean Bruneau donated $1 million to establish a centre of excellence for choral music at MUN last week, marking the second time that the family had decided to be major financial backers of the university’s work. The couple had already donated $1 million to the Angus Bruneau Student Leadership and Innovation Fund in Engineering, making the family perhaps the largest private donors the university has ever had. There are plenty of people who talk the talk of supporting higher education. The Bruneaus are truly showing what walking the walk looks like.
Jeers: to demographics of convenience. Health Minister Susan Sullivan says a recent Fraser Institute ranking of health care in the country — a ranking that put our province at the bottom of health care value-for-money in Canada — failed to take all factors into consideration. “They haven’t considered, at all, that we have the oldest and fastest-aging population anywhere in the country.” Sullivan is right: demographic changes mean health care is going to be more expensive here, and there’s going to be less tax money to pay for it, as the seniors involved wind up having smaller and smaller amounts of money to pay into the tax system (or to pay anywhere else) to defray the growing costs — that’s why Sullivan also talked about the need to cut health-care costs. Funny, that same attention to demographics seems to be missing in the province’s analysis of the Muskrat Falls project, an analysis which maintains electrical consumption can go nowhere but up, no matter what that energy costs.
Cheers: to making a point. Thursday’s Ovations event, a recognition of the role of women in building this province, was a valuable examination of how this province is changing and how much more it needs to change. Spearheaded by Premier Kathy Dunderdale, the event sought to recognize individual successes and to point out the crucial — and slow — movement in this province to equality in representation at the top of business and politics. It may be painful to point out that the glass ceiling still exists in parts of this province, but we can’t simply expect to ignore it away. Sunlight, it’s said, is the best disinfectant.
Jeers: to unrealistic expectations. Ross Reid is a more than capable bureaucrat and a widely known expert on democratic government. But all of that won’t get a camel through the eye of a needle — or find a way to change this province’s perilous demographic trends. Reid was appointed as the deputy-minister responsible for the province’s “population growth strategy,” a project aimed at addressing the fact that our population is aging and shrinking. No disrespect intended, but turning around long-established demographic trends is hardly something that governments can swing with small fixes in immigration and support for families. There’s a road somewhere paved with just this kind of good intentions.