Another Duncan Commission

Someone commented on my post this week recommending a “McKenna Plan” saying that was the Francis McGuire plan. Nope.

I am talking about a Fed/Prov initiative with joint responsibility. Maybe even some kind of commission that would recommend significant changes.

The Feds hold the vast majority of discretionary spending dollars in this country. If you look at what spending is essentially fixed – health care, education, the government bureacracy, debt servicing, it makes up something like 90% of provincial spending each year. In other words, it would take deep cuts and structural changes to make any large scale new funding initiatives. For the Province of New Brunwick to initiate a five year $3 billion plan to do something would be almost impossible.

The feds on the other hand have less than 60% of their spending is fixed. The rest is short term programs and transfers that change with political whim.

Therefore, if we were talking about something large scale, we would almost require the Feds to be in on it.

But I think the Feds, like many provincial government types, think that the Maritimes is heading towards more decline and beyond the bare minimum doesn’t see itself involved in any major new regional development effort. Many of them (at least the politicians as quoted in the press) would rather put federal dollars towards increasing the migration from the poor Maritimes to the areas that need workers such as Fort McMurray. The idea of putting more federal dollars against trying to fix the structural problems won’t get much support.

But that doesn’t stop me putting it out there.