I know a few Ontarioians read this blog so I have a reasonable question for you. I have not read much about the fiscal gap that Ontario has with Ottawa but I keep reading stories about how unfair it is to Ontario and the fact that Ontario is the poorest province in Canada because of this gap – no wait, I just made that last part up – Ontario is still the richest province in Canada if you measure it by per capita income/net worth (although Alberta must be sneaking up here I haven’t looked recently).
But let’s say majority rules and Ontario’s fiscal gap gets erased. Where does the money come from? In virtually the press I have read on this the complaints are about Equalization, and unequal health transfers and unfair EI allocations – all Atlantic Canada and Quebec focused.
Why target the guns at the poorest parts of Canada? Why not talk about Ontario’s ‘share’ of all that oil wealth in Alberta?
Serious question. Newfoundland notwithstanding, places like New Brunswick would be hit hard if you clawed back a few hundred million each year to fix the imbalance.
I am not an advocate of NB being a ward of the state so to speak but in the short term, our existence depends on it. I would like someone to tell me if Daulton McGuinty has an opinion on where all this money for the fiscal imbalance should come from?
Finally, I don’t think there are too many New Brunswickers who wouldn’t be ready to switch the imbalance in favour of Ontario – more EI, Equalization, etc. as along as the economic fortunes of each province were switched at the same time.
But to paraphrase old Mike Harris who once said Nova Scotia wanting its equalization and offshore oil royalties was “like the welfare bum who wins the lottery and wants to keep his welfare cheque”, if Daulton wants to fix his imbalance by beating up on places like New Brunswick it would be like the millionaire wanting to cut the housekeeper’s salary because he lost a killing speculating in the market.
My point is the reason why there is a fiscal imbalance is precisely because Ontario has been the strongest economy in Canada for decades. I don’t think Ontario will solve its short term economic challenges by by trying to beat more money out of New Brunswick.
Ontario would be far better off showing strong support for a real self-sufficiency agenda in New Brunswick. That would lower our requirement for elevated transfers and presumably free up some of this money for Ontario.
But that’s just my opinion.