John Ibbitson isn’t tiptoeing through the tulips in his column last Sunday. He equates Quebec and the Maritimes (he has dropped Newfoundland from his critique in recent years) to the Mediterranean – “The euro zone could become, in effect, a mirror image of Canadian federalism, with the Mediterranean playing the role of Quebec and the Maritimes.”
The government of New Brunswick spends more than $10,000 per elementary and secondary school student each year (from the 2012/2013 budget). So, in 2012 dollars, the New Brunswick taxpayer spends roughly $10,400 per student per year. Over the course of 12 years, the taxpayer will pony up $125,000 to educate each young person (in 2012 dollars).
Then some will go on to university where the taxpayer will end up paying roughly $64,000 for each New Brunswicker going through a four year program (in 2012 dollars). These are order of magnitude estimates as I can’t get break out the exact number of New Brunswickers in NB universities (I can back out foreign students but not other Canadians).
So, the New Brunswick taxpayer will spend over $189,000 per student (in 2012 dollars) only to watch a large chunk leave and go work and pay taxes in Ontario and other Canadian provinces.
You would have to ask Dr. Haan at UNB for exact numbers but suffice it to say that tens of thousands of NBers over the past 40 years have been educated here and used that education elsewhere (mainly Ontario).
If Ibby wants to cut off Equalization, what should we charge him for training his workforce in Ontario?
There are many more examples. How about federal government spending on science and technology – a subject that makes Ibby break out in goose bumps.
From just 2007 to 2011, the federal government spent $17.5 billion on science and technology (just intramural by the way – not including the billions spent funding other sectors) in Ontario (the province and Ottawa’s share of the Ottawa/Gatineau CMA) or about $1,460 per person compared to less than $350 per person in New Brunswick. In just the four years 2007 to 2011, that is a $754 million deficit to New Brunswick. In other words, if the feds had funded science and technology in this province as in Ontario, it would mean another $754 million just between 2007 and 2011.
There are many other examples from arts and culture funding to the large federal government corporate incentive programs but I think the point is clear.
Ibby’s main point in his column was that Germany’s Angela Merkel should avoid Canadian style mutualization of debt lest her country end up like Ontario in Canada.
Slow that down – Ontario – in – Canada.
Ibby would say that New Brunswick has been lucky to be in this Canadian model – that should be avoided by Germany at all costs.
But I ask you. Which province – Ontario or New Brunswick – has benefitted more from the ‘Canadian model’?
If you understand basic math, Ontario has made out like a banshee and New Brunswick has suffered under an oppressive transfer system that overspends the ‘good’ money (R&D, etc.) in Ontario and overspends the ‘bad’ money (Equalization) in New Brunswick.
At least that is the counterpoint to Ibbitston’s simplistic analysis. You and I both know this issue is far more nuanced.
But we soldier on.
If Germany follows Canada’s lead and Germany becomes Canada’s Ontario, Germany will boom for the next 50 years while whole regions of the EU will suffer.
So, by that logic, Germany should embrace Canadian-style transfer systems with open arms.