Provinces can’t blame Ottawa for financial troubles: Fraser Institute

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — A new study released this week by the Fraser Institute finds provincial governments can’t reasonably blame insufficient money from Ottawa for their fiscal woes.

Ben Eisen is the think tank’s associate director of provincial prosperity studies and he co-authored the report, entitled ‘Are the Provinces Really Shortchanged by Federal Transfers?

He says the study found that federal transfers to the provinces and territories are at an all-time high and have been increasing substantially in recent years.

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They also say that over the past decade federal transfers have jumped from 14.8, to 17.3 per cent of all provincial revenues.

Asked to focus on the situation in this province, Mr. Eisen said:

The classic rapid growth example is Ontario, which has run a persistent string of deficits since the 2008-09 fiscal year, when it infamously became one of the have not provinces.

It then started to receive equalization payment money from so-called have provinces — like this one — and it is projected that in the current fiscal year Ontario alone will take 30.1 per cent of the federal transfers.

What kind of transfer policies these new numbers will elicit from the new government is still part of a guessing game the survey did not address, but Mr. Eisen suggests there is a two-party post-election message here the Trudeau Liberals would do well to heed.

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