November 14, 2016
For Immediate Release
Premier Not Willing to Have Ottawa Revisit Equalization While Other Provinces Avail of Program
Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “Instead of working with Ottawa for a fair share of equalization in a time of need, and address what is known as unfair calculations currently for entitlement, the Premier is challenging our Party for demanding fairness. It is absolutely shocking that Premier Ball is refusing to advocate for our fair share of equalization.
“The Auditor General has recently said the equalization program is not as responsive as it should be, to meet our needs. We should not have to wait years to get a reassessment of equalization; rather, it should be based on the particular economic needs of a province and its ability to provide services and programs to its people. That is what Canada is all about: shared values, reasonable services for all Canadians. The formula isn’t kicking in, because federal law requires us to wait three years to get reassessed.
“Equalization is enshrined in the Constitution, but the federal rules governing how it is distributed are legislated by Ottawa. Those rules are unfair and do not reflect the Constitution. In particular, the determination of entitlement is based on ‘fiscal capacity,’ which considers a wide range of revenues and expenses incurred by a province to deliver services. The difference between what is and is not included in this calculation leaves Newfoundland and Labrador in a detrimental position, as our province is disadvantaged by what is considered to be in the fiscal capacity for other provinces’ calculations. This is not fair to Newfoundland and Labrador, and all we ask is that goodwill prevail: the federal government should have a reassessment now.”
“Ottawa has the power to change the rules to make equalization more responsive. It can change the legislation so we can get our fair share when we need it. Members of Parliament are elected to do that, including the seven federal MPs elected by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Dwight Ball and the governing Liberals are unwilling to advocate for the people of our province, and the province deserves better,” said Hutchings.
“The Liberals boast of a tight-knit relationship, but won’t put the province first and work to secure a modernized equalization formula tied to fiscal capacity. They won’t even go as far as the Auditor General is going – by admitting that the program is not responsive enough.
“Quebec is getting $10 billion in equalization this year, with hydro revenues from the Upper Churchill Contract not included in determining their fiscal capacity. With all that revenue, it’s not surprising that Quebec doesn’t have a deficit. Nova Scotia is getting $1.7 billion in equalization this year (along with New Brunswick), and they’re running a surplus. We are getting zero at a time when we’re running a deficit because our oil revenues have collapsed. Premier Ball is neither able nor willing to make an effective case for fairness for Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Hutchings.
Media Contact: Heather MacLean, Director of Communications, Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105, [email protected]