June 15, 2001
For immediate release
Finance Ministers Support PEI's Position on Federal Equalization Program
Minister Mella stated that she is very pleased with the unanimous support her colleagues provided for the Island's position that the federal Equalization program needs improvement and, in particular, that the ceiling be removed.
"It is most gratifying that provincial ministers from across Canada agree on this critical issue," she said.
Ministers are preparing a report to be presented at the upcoming meeting of First Ministers in August. That report will emphasize the need for a renewed federal commitment to support provincial costs associated with the escalating demands for essential services – particularly health and education. Provinces will present options including the need for increased CHST, or tax point transfers, to provide a secure source of financing for these vital public services.
The minister noted that the Federal Government, with an anticipated surplus of $15 to $20 billion, cannot continue to claim that its support is unaffordable. "They have the means," she said. "But evidently the problem is that to this point they have lacked the will."
"We hope that the Federal Government will have the resolve to do the right thing. Canadians need reassurance that critical provincial services are adequately funded over the long term."