Premier Brad Wall is criticizing any attempt by Ottawa to link federal transfer payments with signing on to liberal policies.
Blacklock’s Reporter, an online news source, obtained a heavily redacted memo from the federal finance ministry which suggests that any future equalization deals could rest on whether the provinces sign on to the proposed carbon tax.
“Should equalization payments be tied to some provinces support of a specific federal liberal policy, that kind of discussion shouldn’t even be happening, never mind in the senior levels of the department of finance,” Wall told reporters at the Legislature Monday.
The premier has written a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seeking clarification, suggesting that if these discussions are taking place it would not only damage federal-provincial relationships but “be a serious violation of the principles of fiscal federalism.”
“Whether or not a province agrees with any particular policy of the federal government, if they are eligible for a transfer payment, and remember we get them for health and education, if we are eligible, then we are eligible, regardless of what we might say about a certain federal policy,” Wall argued.
“When you consider that this discussion is even happening in Ottawa in the context of have provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan who are facing big time headwinds of the fiscal side, they’re trying to tie carbon tax support to equalization in the future, or musing about it even, is not acceptable.”
Citing past discussions on infrastructure, Wall suggested this is not the first time Ottawa has indicated that more money is available if provinces sign on to carbon tax.
Over the past decade, Saskatchewan has provided over $5 billion in equalization transfers and received no equalization payments, despite the third year of economic downturn.