At the heart of solving the Fiscal Health Problem on PEI is the health of Islanders and the political power of the public sector unions.
It will be in helping Islanders make better decisions about their own health. It will be in creating the conditions where dramatic changes to the system can be made.
It will be in being politically very smart. There is no room for mistakes on taxes or spending.
So if I was Doug Currie I would work very closely with Wes Sheridan and the Premier.
Already some recent tax choices are weakening everything that will have to be done.
It makes no sense to make it cheaper to go and watch a game than to go to a gym and work out.
It makes no sense to make golf fees less when golf is a sport for the well healed and make health advice expensive.
We are already in a zone here where it is clear that there is no plan. Is revenue talking with Health? It does not look like it is. Health now drives our future. Get it wrong and the government and PEI has none. So how things affect health and the system must drive policy - all policy.
The tax code will be a critical device in shaping a new lifestyle on PEI. Every single thing that is done with taxes will have to be judged by the lifestyle impact.
At some point all provinces are going to have to use the tax code to shift our addiction to highly processed food. I don't just mean a Pop tax - but an entire tax strategy. What will we incent and what to make more expensive? All will have to be thought through.
So if I was Doug Currie, one of the things I would do is to work on the 5th floor for a long term tax and lifestyle plan. This has to be ready soon. The HST will focus all minds on tax - this is not the time to be casual.
Every spending decision that is taken by government will also be seen soon in the health context. The government will be judged on its own choices. You cannot tell Islanders that there is no money for things they are attached to and then spend money on things that they don't want. They see that you are making a choice and you will lose or gain political capital accordingly.
This is why Plan B is a suicidal idea. It involves a lot of money and few if any voters want it. For in this mandate there will have to be major cuts to how health care is now delivered. I anticipate that the small hospitals will have to go. If all this money has been spent on a road, there will be no mercy from Islanders.
This is also why a pay raise for MLA's is suicide. There will be a loss in professional health care jobs. It's inevitable. The government sets itself up for a repeat of the 7% debacle if MLA's get a free ride. If MLA's are seen to put themselves then ALL politicians will suffer here.
Islanders have to see that their elected leaders are in the same boat as they. Only then will they give politicians the room to make tough calls and also survive politically.
We really have a chance to make PEI viable. But not thinking ahead and not having a framework for tax and spending will doom us all to failure.