Saskatchewan is one of many provinces hoping Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau is close to overhauling the current equalization payment program.
Provincial Finance minister Donna Harpauer says it’s more than a stretch for Ottawa to think Saskatchewan can continue paying billions in equalization pay when resource revenue is low.
Harpauer says it’s a flawed program when a downturn affects the resource rich provinces.
“It needs to have a little bit of an overhaul,” Harpauer said. “You take the situation of Saskatchewan, who is obviously hurting because of resource revenues which are down. Yet, because we have those resources, we don’t qualify for equalization payments.”
She says the payments are allowing provinces like Quebec to accomplish things they would like to do here at home.
“Quebec, on the other hand, is getting huge equalization payments,” Harpauer said. “They are able to reduce taxes, offer very low tuition to students, to subsidize child care. And the list goes on.”
Harpauer says Morneau told them in Ottawa Monday he is considering alterations to the current program, something Saskatchewan believes will not be enough to level the playing field.
Harpauer says it’s a stretch for provinces to continue to make these payments especially when resource revenue has been hurting.
“If the intent is to address and reduce the fiscal disparities, it is creating fiscal disparities.”