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Premier, fight for your province

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Newfoundland and Labrador should not have to wait three years to qualify for equalization payments when the severe shortfall in revenues is crushing us right now, this year.

It’s time for Premier Dwight Ball to be far more forceful  in making our province’s case. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has been relentless in making the case for his province, which is in a similar situation as ours. He would be far more likely to succeed in getting changes if our own premier were to join him in making the case.
Premier Wall has released a map showing the approximate amounts (in billions of dollars) that provinces will receive in equalization this year: Quebec (10), Ontario (2.3), Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (1.7 each), P.E.I. (0.4). Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador will not receive any equalization funds.
The point of equalization is simple: ensure that each province has enough revenue to provide comparable public services at comparable rates of taxation.
This year, our revenues are way down because the market prices of oil and certain minerals have fallen off the cliff. That leaves us with a massive shortfall. But under the current rules, we may not qualify for equalization for another three years, because Ottawa calculates a province’s needs based on three-year averages.
As former finance minister Joe Oliver recently pointed out in the Financial Post, “the three-year weighted average calculation of fiscal capacity does not fully take account of their current financial pain.”
Getting equalization in three years will not help us this year when we need the revenue in order to avoid severe cuts in public services.
If Premier Ball is serious about avoiding those cuts and the huge impacts on people and public employees, he will speak up louder and fight for Newfoundland and Labrador.
The cosy relationship between provincial and federal Liberals means absolutely nothing if it does not deliver help to us in our time of tremendous need.
Saskatchewan and Alberta don’t have Liberal governments, they don’t have that cosy relationship. But what they do have is attention.  Ottawa is already talking about rushing new stimulus funding to those two provinces this year — what about us?
So far, all they have offered Newfoundland and Labrador is old funding that was provided before the Liberals came to office.  That isn’t the stimulus we need.
How will we get noticed if we don’t make waves?  Who is going to make our province’s case if our own government will not?
The fear that Premier Ball and Finance Minister Cathy Bennett have generated with their talk of deep cuts is already crushing our economy and having a chilling effect on consumers and investors, making things worse than they already were.
Why are the Liberals  more willing to talk about slashing our services to the bone than to make noise on the national stage for the immediate equalization funding we desperately need?
Newfoundland and Labrador has been paying its way since 2008 when we came off equalization.  That same year, Ontario went on equalization — and Quebec and other provinces have been receiving billions in equalization.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a strong argument to make for fairness, but who will make it if our premier will not?
It is already very, very late to begin making that case. Months have been wasted.  Budget time is almost upon us, but the Ball government’s silence has been deafening.
For the sake of our people, speak up!

Paul Davis,
Leader of the Official Opposition

It’s time for Premier Dwight Ball to be far more forceful  in making our province’s case. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has been relentless in making the case for his province, which is in a similar situation as ours. He would be far more likely to succeed in getting changes if our own premier were to join him in making the case.
Premier Wall has released a map showing the approximate amounts (in billions of dollars) that provinces will receive in equalization this year: Quebec (10), Ontario (2.3), Manitoba, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (1.7 each), P.E.I. (0.4). Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador will not receive any equalization funds.
The point of equalization is simple: ensure that each province has enough revenue to provide comparable public services at comparable rates of taxation.
This year, our revenues are way down because the market prices of oil and certain minerals have fallen off the cliff. That leaves us with a massive shortfall. But under the current rules, we may not qualify for equalization for another three years, because Ottawa calculates a province’s needs based on three-year averages.
As former finance minister Joe Oliver recently pointed out in the Financial Post, “the three-year weighted average calculation of fiscal capacity does not fully take account of their current financial pain.”
Getting equalization in three years will not help us this year when we need the revenue in order to avoid severe cuts in public services.
If Premier Ball is serious about avoiding those cuts and the huge impacts on people and public employees, he will speak up louder and fight for Newfoundland and Labrador.
The cosy relationship between provincial and federal Liberals means absolutely nothing if it does not deliver help to us in our time of tremendous need.
Saskatchewan and Alberta don’t have Liberal governments, they don’t have that cosy relationship. But what they do have is attention.  Ottawa is already talking about rushing new stimulus funding to those two provinces this year — what about us?
So far, all they have offered Newfoundland and Labrador is old funding that was provided before the Liberals came to office.  That isn’t the stimulus we need.
How will we get noticed if we don’t make waves?  Who is going to make our province’s case if our own government will not?
The fear that Premier Ball and Finance Minister Cathy Bennett have generated with their talk of deep cuts is already crushing our economy and having a chilling effect on consumers and investors, making things worse than they already were.
Why are the Liberals  more willing to talk about slashing our services to the bone than to make noise on the national stage for the immediate equalization funding we desperately need?
Newfoundland and Labrador has been paying its way since 2008 when we came off equalization.  That same year, Ontario went on equalization — and Quebec and other provinces have been receiving billions in equalization.
Newfoundland and Labrador has a strong argument to make for fairness, but who will make it if our premier will not?
It is already very, very late to begin making that case. Months have been wasted.  Budget time is almost upon us, but the Ball government’s silence has been deafening.
For the sake of our people, speak up!

Paul Davis,
Leader of the Official Opposition

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