Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tories still insist on messing with Ontario...

Well, despite the efforts of Dwight Duncan and Dalton McGuinty to turn down the temperature, the jackasses in our federal government have decided to keep attacking their Ontario counterparts.

I swear, if the federal government were treating Quebec or Alberta this way, those provincial governments would have made an appeal to the UN by now. Or at the very least started a campaign to have a referendum on separation.

I'm telling you, if the feds keep treating us this way, I'll start to contemplate advocating that we take our $20 billion a year in funding for the other provinces and go it on our own. You want us to make $5 billion in corporate tax cuts? Fine. Give us back just 25% of the money you take away from us every year to spread around the rest of the country, and we'll do it tomorrow. Sure, maybe that will mean Quebeckers will no longer get ridiculously low tuition rates, and Manitobans may no longer get subsidized electricity rates, but tell me again why those provinces get those great perks AND our money? Tell me again why provinces get transfers from us to fund programs that are BETTER than we can afford in Ontario with what's left over. You know why I think Ontario is less competitive than the other provinces? It's because we pay $20 billion a year to them to help them stay more competitive than us (except for Alberta, who have $100/barrel oil to thank). The theory behind equalization is to make sure provinces don't fall too far behind successful provinces like Ontario and Alberta, so that people in less well to do provinces have comparable levels of service to those in prospering provinces. The reality in many cases is that Ontario and Alberta are funding services in other provinces that are BETTER than the services in Ontario (more per-capita spending on health care, subsidized university tuition, subsidized electricity rates...). It feels like it's not so much any more about keeping other provinces up, as it is about keeping Ontario down. If you can afford to spend more per capita on services for your citizens than the province of Ontario does on our citizens, why should we have to subsidize that higher spending?

I'm getting really mad with all this b.s. from the feds, and the main thing that has me worried is that Harper WANTS me really mad.

Maybe he really wants to break up the country.

Given the antics of his ministers, I wouldn't put it past him.

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Sean S. said...

Saskatchewan is also a recent addition to "have" status.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Ah, I didn't know that Sean! Excellent. I think B.C. is also now a giver, not a taker (or will shortly be). However, I usually still use Ontario and Alberta as examples because a) it's been those two for a long time, and b) I think they give significantly more than B.C. or Sask., even if both B.C. and Sask. are now "have" provinces.

Regardless, under almost any measure Ontario is most harmed by the nature of transfers. 40% of the money in the pile that Ottawa doles out to the provinces comes from the people of Ontario, and we get about 25% of the transfers from Ottawa. That difference is about $20 billion that leaves Ontario taxpayers pockets every year to be redistributed to the rest of the country by the feds. Even the other "have" provinces aren't contributing anywhere NEAR $20 billion a year to the "have nots".

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Keep in mind too Sean that I'm not just talking "equalization" I'm talking "federal transfers" too.

That "equalization" is "unequal" is the whole point, but things like the the Canada Health Transfer and the Canada Social Transfer are not doled out to the provinces on a per capita basis either. So even though 40% of the money doled out by the feds comes from Ontario (again, this is not just equalization), only a fraction of that is actually allocated for Ontario (although to be fair, the feds gave Ontario a top up on the CST this year to bring it up to the per capita norm, and have promised that Ontario will be treated equally on a per capita basis with reference to Health transfers... though not until 2014-2015).

So, for Health transfers from the feds today for example, Ontario gets much less per capita than most other provinces. This is not "Equalization", it's manipulating federal transfers outside of the equalization program to create "equalization plus".

So, many provinces get equalization, PLUS more money per capita in health and social transfers from the feds than Ontario does. Also, some provinces that don't receive "equalization payments" still effectively get "equalization" because they get higher levels of per-capita transfers from the feds for health and social spending than Ontario does. So, you can be a "have" province and still be subsidized by Ontario.

For example, if you look at Health and Social transfers from Ottawa to the provinces, Alberta gets about $1,754 in 2008/09 per Albertan, while Ontario gets about $1,683 per Ontarian (Quebec gets about $2,582 per Quebecker, the eastern provinces between 3,200 and 3,700 per person, while B.C. and Saskatchewan are also in the 1,600 range with Ontario). Again, all this is OUTSIDE the equalization formula.

Catelli said...

I just don't see the end-game here. What is the advantage for the feds in attacking McGuinty?

The only theory that resonates with this and everything else they've done, is they want to weaken the federal system to the point that the country breaks up to a loose association of provinces. Make Canada a mini EU. Its the only theory that holds up to scrutiny over this government's tenure.

There isn't a damn thing they've done to strengthen or unite the country, that's for sure.