A GAI would likely require large-scale lay-offs of bureaucrats to achieve substantial administrative savings—a move that would obviously face strong internal political opposition.
The Ontario government has never made a secret of its desire to have the federal government help fund Ontario’s provincial budget. It even started its own think-tank with $5 million in 2009, which regularly publishes reports that call on the federal government to rescue Ontario’s provincial finances.
In the debate over whether the Alberta government should reduce and reform spending to cushion the blow from falling revenues, some claim higher taxes will balance the books.
With the plunge in oil prices over the last six months (and already soft natural gas prices), it’s not headline news to note that provinces heavily dependent on energy-related revenues are suffering.
Canada’s federal equalization program is motivated by good intentions. However, the program has unintended consequences, and creates perverse incentives that have allowed at least two “have-not” provinces to shun sensible economic opportunities.
Discussing equalization and other federal transfer payments in summer is about as much fun as a root canal in any season. Nevertheless, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa complained recently that the federal government underfunds Ontario.
Souris Mayor Dave MacDonald recently told the Premier's Council on EI that recent changes to the federal EI program are killing his town.
Unfortunately, Mr. MacDonald did not note that Islanders receive three times as much as they contribute to the EI program. This was a subsidy in 2010 of about $150 million from citizens living elsewhere to people living on PEI.
As anyone who has ever watched puppies tussle over a bone knows, nothing will lead to acrimony quicker than competition for an object everyone wants. Keep the puppy image in mind. Replace it with provincial governments, many of whom now have a stake in the federal transfer program, equalization.
Imagine youre a German asked to pay for the lifestyle of a Greek through ever-more transfers to the European Union or through bailouts for Greek debt. Imagine you, as a German, know the average age for a German retiree is 62 while the average Greek is in his retirement villa at age 60. That knowledge explains why northern Europeans may not wish to indulge Greek lifestyles much longer.