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Mind the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves

January 2024

Most Canadians understand the necessity to pay taxes in order to fund government operations and our social services. They may not like the fact that taxes have a negative effect it has on their bank balance, but they can at least understand. However, when you come across government waste, it can be a challenge to reconcile this necessity to pay taxes with the feeling that governments really don’t care about how they spend the money, or whether they get value for the dollars spent.

Recently, the City of Toronto ordered two new city bike path signs with some pretty glaring typos. One of them directed cyclists and pedestrians to the “Lakeshore Trial”, instead of Trail. Another sign proclaimed that “Downton” was 2.6 Kms away, instead of Downtown. Now, sometimes eyes can play tricks on you and it’s pretty easy for a person miss these typos when scan reading them. If I came upon these signs while quickly riding or walking past them, I too might miss them.

That said, when it comes to writing, approving and, printing and erecting signs in public, especially when it involves a government agency, there are more than just one person involved in the whole process. There would have been numerous people who would have seen these signs and what they said, up to and including the workers who installed them. There even would have been at least one person whose duties would have included verifying the accuracy of the information, including the spelling of everything printed on the sign.

In other words, why did no one from the city notice the spelling errors? Perhaps just as importantly, why didn’t anyone in the chain say anything about the typo? Instead, it fell to a citizen, John Oughton, who coincidentally is a former proofreader and English professor, to be the one who alerted the city to the problem. Maybe Toronto should consider hiring Mr. Oughton to be their full-time proofreader going forward.

The city has advised that it will cost only $200 to correct this error, which is loose change found under the cushions on your couch when it comes to the city’s operating budget, but that’s not the point. When you add up the loose change found under the cushions of a million couches, that adds up to a lot. For many families though, $200 is the difference between paying the rent this month and being homeless.

Imagine how much more money our governments could have to fund our social programs, provide needed tax cuts or pay down government debt (at all levels) if money wasn’t wasted in such a careless manner, even the small amounts.

Sources: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/downton-this-way-city-apologizes-for-typos-in-new-cycle-path-signs/article_281a1842-a9a6-11ee-8dfe-ab270a81eabc.html.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/mind-the-pennies-and-the-dollars-will-take-care-of-themselves/

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