TORONTO - We’re doing this to preserve the unity of the country, they claimed. “This” being the meeting to extort – pardon, my cynicism is showing again - no, to encourage the Federal government to increase transfers to the provinces.
You see, they say, the Provincial governments just don’t have enough money to do what they think is in the best interests of their electorate, apparently. Cry me a river! No matter the political stripe of those governments, Premiers just can’t seem to resist the opportunity to blame the “underfunding” in provincial programs on the federal government.
That would be the same jurisdiction they blame for “overspending” and running up the debt, and consequently the deficit. Were it not for the fact that a “weakened” Trudeau government may become a soft “punching bag”, or that overly-ambitious Conservative politicians see an opportunity to displace Andrew Scheer as the legitimate Official Opposition to a Trudeau-led government, one might tarry a moment to dwell on the premise.
Before we do, appreciate that independent researchers at the Library of Parliament, whose task it is to produce and provide reports with a “balanced analysis” and to make them available to the public and to Legislators, yearly. One wonders if those Premiers are even aware the Reports exist. Researchers for the Library of Parliament scour the Public Accounts and Statistics Canada to provide such documentation, replete with charts, graphs and data.
Those researchers tell us that the General Revenues of the Federal Government in 2018 amounted to $332.546 Billion. That’s an average of about $8,376 in taxation per Canadian- B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Newfoundland were above that while the others were below. The equivalent per capita expenditure was an average $8,408. Yes; there is a deficit.
From those General Revenues, the Federal government allocated $110.970 Billion in transfers to persons and households (Veterans’ pensions, OAS, Employment Insurance, GST tax credits) and $96.152 Billion in transfers to [other] governments.
It also spent $21.618 Billion in Defense (Donald Trump wants us to spend double that amount) and a further $23.680 Billion in interest payments on the debt (the Provinces want that reduced to zero, but not at the cost of reducing their transfers).
Meanwhile, General Revenues for the combined Provincial governments amounted to $475.648 Billion –$143.102 Billion more than the Federal government collects.
Aside from the photo-op exercise that a§orded the Premiers the chance to preen before the cameras, what was the point of holding the Conference? All the public heard was the veiled threat that if they didn’t get more money the unity of the country would be in danger.