Just a little Equalization example

I think by now you know my position on Equalization. The program is designed not to provide parity in government service delivery across Canada but to provide a minimum acceptable standard for government services. The reason I think this is in the results. There is no one in Canada that would ever say that health care, education, or almost any other government service is at ‘par’ in New Brunswick compared to say, Alberta.

Here is one quick example from a recent CIHI study. New Brunswick spends, by far, the most in Canada on prescription drugs (as a percentage of income) not because they are more expensive here – we just use more prescription drugs (probably linked to the fact we are the least healthy province in Canada but I’m not a health economist).

Anyway, I hope you can read this chart below. A picture is worth a thousand words – in this case a chart. New Brunswickers spend out of pocket or through private insurance an average of $610 per person (so for a family of five, the average would be over $3,000) each year compared to less than $400 in Manitoba. Now this is a serious cost to the average family – a health care cost – remember no credit cards allowed – which is supposed to be one of those things that is equalized under Equalization.

Then look at the second graph which shows that public funding of prescription drugs is only up slightly since 1985 (per capita) while private spending is up somethink like 400%.

Now, I realize that many people will say that Equalization is not supposed to mean full equality but what’s all that talk about ‘constitutional rights’? New Brunswickers spend more out of pocket on health care than anywhere else. Alberta’s public school model is being exported to California because it is considered one of the best in the world and New Brunswick kids keep scoring at the bottom in the country.

My opinion is that if we want New Brunswick to be ‘equal’ we need to rely less on Equalization and more on own-source tax revenue generation. All we have to do is look around at the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ to see why.

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0 Responses to Just a little Equalization example

  1. Anonymous says:

    Wouln’d this have anything to do with the large percent of our population being seniors? Per capita where’s NB compared to Alberta for the number of seniors?

  2. David Campbell says:

    There could be some truth to your assessment. 14% of NBers are over 65 compared to 10% in Alberta.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Still, I agree that we need to pursue avenues that reduce our dependance to equalization. Our survival and reversal of attitude depends on this.

    I really beleive that the reason that young people are leaving is because they don’t want to be dependant on goverment subsidies. They want just want the opportunity to make a living. They don’t have that today in NB.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Amen, ‘own tax sources’ include more taxes on Irving and McCains. They own huge numbers of companies, and get great tax deals on their terminals, and money flowing from government to their mills. They use foreign labourers in the lumber industry while New Brunswickers can’t find jobs.

    It’s pretty easy arithmetic to see two families with billions of dollars and access to resources, while the government has diddly squat. Combine that with Martin and Lord’s tax breaks for the wealthy and its easy to see why the only economic statistic that Statistics Canada doesn’t keep track of is the gap between the rich and poor.

    The fatness of New Brunswickers plays into it, but keep in mind many other indicators:

    1. New Brunswick relied far more on ‘agent orange’ as the main defoliant in the time frame from the fifties through to the nineties than did other areas.

    2. New Brunswick still refuses to conduct Mr.Leblanc’s study on the massive increase in ritalin on children.

    3. Lower wages and incomes means less ability to not only choose healthy foods, but also, low paying jobs means workers must work more, that means less time preparing healthy meals.

    4. Working longer hours at low paying jobs is also a source of injury and health problems. In Alberta, wages rise as more workers are needed.

    5. Although stress levels are a prime indicator of health, there is little study on the effects of living in an area where job opportunities are practically non existent, and job choice IS non existent. When you have no power at work, that has a strong psychological effect.

    6. That also doesn’t count the ‘non prescription’ use of drugs. It’s said that Monctonians consume more coffee per capita than the rest of canadians, where coffee consumption is actually decreasing. Coffee is an extremely powerful stimulant, just try quitting. Caffeine is very addictive, and if you add that into the drug mix, you have a real epidemic of drug users on your hands.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I consider myself middle class (definitely not wealthy) and I am happy the middle calss is actually getting a tax break from the Feds. I have not seen any decrease in my taxes going to the Province when fees and gas taxes are considered.

    My point–> don’t harass the govt for giving middle class a tax break. It is sooo politically correct to want to give tax breaks only to poorer residents. I am glad someone is fighting to get my attention. Whoever gives me the best tax break will get my vote.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Depends what you call ‘middle class’. I know people bringing home 80 grand who still complain about ‘being taxed too much’, even though with RRSP contributions, EI, etc., it still comes to close to 50 grand.

    In fact I’d say the exact opposite is true, there is almost no emphasis on giving tax breaks for the poor. I certainly haven’t heard it, meanwhile, hardly a month goes by that the national newspapers don’t have feature articles on somebody talking about eliminating capital gains tax.

    In Canada it has been overwhelmingly the rich which have benefitted from tax breaks. There is almost no analysis of the various tax’s on trusts and foreign income and the hundreds of tools which the wealthy can use to eliminate taxes. As I’ve said before, according to SC, wealthy canadians have $80 billion ‘hidden’ in tax shelters in the caribbean, switzerland, and ireland. Only 20% of that is actual ‘investments’, the rest is just hidden away.

    That amount of money would got a LONG way towards developing regional economies, paying down debt, investing in infrastructure, or even building up the Halifax port if so inclined. Yet we know THATS not going to happen.

    Thats why media is part of the problem. The issue simply isn’t ‘tax breaks’ since there are literally hundreds of issues tied up in taxation that nobody even knows about. The poor certainly aren’t getting tax breaks, the amount of income they earn means their tax level is negligible.

    So any government that says ‘I’m going to lower your tax’, usually has an agenda. They know you’re an easy mark. How many governments say “we’re going to raise taxes on those earning more than $150 grand” THATS the guy that’ll get MY vote.