March 2, 2018
For Immediate Release
Premier’s Equalization Letter a Little Late
Keith Hutchings, Finance Critic for the Official Opposition, says, “Premier Ball’s letter to Ottawa for equalization changes is a little late, and he hasn’t even been able to convince the province’s Liberal Cabinet minister to come on side. Perhaps that’s because even the Premier was unwilling to fight when we pressed him two years ago.”
The Premier said in the House this week that he wrote to the Prime Minister on February 13 requesting a meeting on equalization and the Atlantic Accord.
In fact, this was not the Premier’s initiative. The 2005 Atlantic Accord called for precisely such a meeting by 2019 to review precisely the matters the Premier listed in his letter.
Ironically, the Premier has spent two years resisting calls by the PC Opposition to demand fairness on equalization from Ottawa. The Premier told the CBC in March 2016 that the equalization program “is what it is” and “we’ve got to do this on our own.” And the province’s federal Cabinet minister, Seamus O’Regan, also threw cold water on achieving greater benefits on equalization from the Trudeau Liberals prior to 2019, if ever. “It’s a tough nut to crack,” O’Regan told The Telegram.
Hutchings said, “Equalization is guaranteed in the Constitution to ensure provinces can provide an equivalent level of public services at equivalent rates of taxation, and it should kick in when revenues fall, as oil revenues did. While western oil provinces fought for fairness, Mr. Ball chose not to fight, but instead crushed our people for two years with exorbitant tax increases that have seriously harmed our economy.”
Meanwhile, Quebec’s take from equalization rises to $11.7 billion in 2018-19. Nova Scotia will get $1.9 billion, New Brunswick will get $1.87 billion, PEI will get $419 million, Manitoba will get $2 billion, and Ontario will get $963 million. Newfoundland and Labrador and the other provinces will get zero.
Director of Operations and Communications
Office of the Official Opposition
(709) 729 6105