Premier Robert Ghiz , of P.E.I., is host of this year's Council of the Federation premiers' meeting in Charlottetown. The premiers will meet with aboriginal leaders Wednesday to discuss, among other issues, a response on missing and murdered aboriginal women. Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press
Canada's provincial and territorial premiers say there is a fiscal imbalance between Ottawa and the provinces, despite assertions to the contrary by the federal government, and it's time the prime minister re-examined the country's fiscal arrangements.
P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, who is the host of the Council of the Federation this week, emerged from a morning meeting of Canada's premiers with a report by the Conference Board of Canada, which the premiers commissioned last year, showing the federal government is balancing its budget on the back of the provinces.
While the federal government is contributing to health care funding, Ghiz said it simply isn't keeping pace with changing demographics and an aging population — all of which will have an impact on the provinces.
"Under all scenarios examined by the Conference Board, the federal government continues to record growing budgetary surpluses while provincial-territorial governments will face increasing challenges to achieve fiscal balance while providing essential programs and services to Canadians," Ghiz said in a statement.
The federal government has guaranteed the provinces an annual 6-per-cent increase in health care funding until 2016-17. After that, increases will be tied to growth in nominal gross domestic product, a measure of GDP plus inflation — but is guaranteed to be at least 3 per cent.
Ghiz said P.E.I.'s health care budget grew by approximately $30 million last year, of which Ottawa contributed approximately $8 million.
But it's not just health care. Ghiz said there are growing demands in other provincial areas.
"Premiers agreed that fiscal arrangements must be re-examined... and encouraged the prime minister to work with them on this important priority."
The premiers, Ghiz said, would announce more concrete demands later today.
Western premiers review trade barriers
B.C. Premier Christy Clark, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and Alberta's Dave Hancock also announced they're going to take a look at the New West Partnership to see if regulations are preventing trade opportunities.Wall said, for example, that if a company wants to make first aid kits for Canada, that business would have to satisfy 10 different sets of regulations as to what might constitute a first aid kit.
"So this seems dumb and I think at the heart of improving trade issues is trying to remove dumb from the economy," Wall said.
Clark said all of the provinces have room to improve trade, but pointed to the federal government, too, and said she wants to help it understand all the things it can do to increase trade.
"We know that trade barriers kill jobs. We know that red tape gets in the way of putting people to work across the country. And it doesn't make any sense to any of us that we should be putting artificial barriers in the way of creating jobs, because a job that's created in Saskatchewan is also of benefit to people who live in PEI," she said.