When the provincial government is flinging an extra $60 million into the coffers of school districts, just a week before classes resume, that’s not a good sign.
Inflation at the grocery store and the gas pump has been getting the lion’s share of attention so far this year, but the provincial funding – welcome and necessary as it is – is meant to shore up some other fronts where prices have been rising.
School supplies, school meal programs, and field trips were suggested uses for the extra cash, when Minister of Education Jennifer Whiteside announced it Wednesday.
That’s the thing about inflation, once it hits a few major core items, like energy and food, it affects everything. It’s going to cost more to fuel up buses for field trips this year. It’s going to cost more for parents to pack school lunches, but also more for school meal programs and non-profits like the Starfish backpack program. It’s going to hit everything that comes on a truck or a ship – including paper, pencils, notebooks, tablets and computers.
Schools are the most obvious place we’re going to see this, but every government department is going to get squeezed a little bit this year, and likely next.
Hospitals will be paying more for all sorts of things, and while our care remains free, that’s an extra cost the government will have to reckon with. Every ministry is going to be seeing higher prices for its basic supplies, but more important, union and non-union workers are all going to be looking for higher raises, to keep up with the cost of living.
It isn’t all bad news, however.
Ottawa had a $10.2 billion budget surplus in the first three months of this year. B.C. just reported a $1.3 billion surplus, well above what was expected. The tailing off of pandemic spending, while the economy has been booming, has helped get Canada back in the black, which will give governments some wiggle room as prices rise.