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What does Kathleen Wynne have against hairstylists? The nice young woman who snips my bangs would like to know. To her surprise, she is now being regulated by a new body called the Ontario College of Trades. It wants her to fork over $120 every year (plus tax) for a piece of paper saying she’s qualified to do her job.
In order to get a licence, hairstylists already log 1,500 hours of school, write exams and serve apprenticeships. Now they must also have a Grade 12 diploma and pass a written government test. But hey! When it comes to protecting the public from rogue snippers, you can never be too careful.
The hairdresser tax is a small but potent example of what’s gone wrong in Ontario over the past decade. As manufacturing evaporated and jobs dried up, the Liberal government threw sand in the gears. All its instincts are regulatory and interventionist. At a time when we desperately need smaller businesses to create jobs, it has ratcheted up the cost of doing business and smothered them in red tape.
Meanwhile, it’s kept spending as if the good times never stopped. Prudent Ontarians used to deplore Quebec – those profligate French! – as the free-spending wastrel of Confederation. But now, we’re the wastrel. Our dour Scottish accountant forebears must be spinning in their graves.
Ms. Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, is now in full election mode. Her main campaign promise is that she is trustworthy. Unlike those reckless parties to the left and right, she has “safe hands.” Unlike them, she won’t steer us off the cliff.
But we’re already heading off the cliff. The provincial deficit is ballooning. According to Livio Di Matteo in a recent Fraser Institute report, we have the third-lowest rate of private-sector job creation in the country. We’ve had the slowest growth of all the provinces for a decade. We’ve been poorer than the rest of the country since 2005, and today we are 5.6 per cent poorer. GDP per person in the rest of Canada is $48,463. In Ontario, it’s $45,933.
If you happen to live elsewhere, don’t feel too smug. We’re so big that our problems drag you down, too.
For the rest of this column, click here: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/wynnes-scary-safe-hands/article18477995/#dashboard/follows/