April 1, 2005
For immediate release
Provincial Treasurer Responds to Shawn Murphy
“If I had known better,” says the Provincial Treasurer, “I would have thought it an April Fools joke.”
“The truth is that the MP for Charlottetown has not supported our province in winning critical federal support for its public services. Shawn Murphy has simply not been prepared to go to bat for the province in its times of need. Unlike our other federal MPs, he has never challenged his own Government’s rhetoric when it comes to federal transfers coming to P.E.I.
“Let’s look at the record. Federal support for health and social programs for Prince Edward Island dropped by $30 million per year in 1996-97 when the Canada Health and Social Transfer replaced previous federal transfers. Has Shawn Murphy forgotten those cuts that helped solve the federal deficit problem on the backs of provinces?
“Equalization transfers dropped by $37 million between 2001-02 and 2004-05. These are facts. Where was Shawn Murphy when we argued for improved Equalization in the 2004 renewal?
“The federal government only acceded to provincial demands for improved health monies after provinces united in their call for change. Let’s be clear, the Health Accord was certainly not something that was volunteered by the federal government, notwithstanding their massive surpluses. It was resisted until the federal government moved into a minority position.
“For Prince Edward Island the Health accord simply restored federal transfers to their 2001-02 level.
“While providing welcome relief this was no financial windfall.
“Prior to the 2004 Health Accord, federal transfers to P.E.I. were $360 million in 2004-05. This is $11 million below the level of 2001-02. They are now about $400 million, not the $439 million that the federal MP claims.
“After inflation, these transfers, including the 2004 Health Accord, are no higher than in 2001-02.
“This, at a time when health costs have increased by an average 8% per year.
“The federal MP has also confused federal transfers with provincial tax points, which exaggerate the federal contributions. This is an old trick which we are frankly tired of seeing and Shawn Murphy should know better. Islanders see through this sort of shell game.
“Clearly our MP for Charlottetown is totally insensitive and poorly informed of the financial stresses that are placed on the Province because of the inadequacies in federal transfers. It would be far better if our federal representative was actually proactive in supporting the Province in these difficult times, instead of acting as an apologist for federal inaction.”