N.L. will be at talks for federal equalization funding in 2018, says Dwight Ball
Province had very little involvement in 2009, 2014 talks with Ottawa
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball says the province will be at the table for equalization talks with the federal government next year.
During a scrum at Confederation Building Thursday, Ball said his administration plans to end the previous government's policy of not participating in the talks, which take place every five years.
If it's equalization, if it's federal financing or leveraging in any capacity we're going to go after it.- Dwight Ball
Canada's equalization program is a way to transfer funds from the federal government to the provinces so that each could provide "reasonably" comparable services at "reasonably" comparable rates of taxation. The program was enshrined in the Constitution in 1982.
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The province had very little involvement in equalization negotiations in 2014, and even less in 2009 — after then-premier Danny Williams proudly declared Newfoundland and Labrador a "have" province, which put an end to equalization payments.
"They basically ignored the fact that there was some $34-million available for communities in our province and didn't even sign the agreement with the feds," Ball said of the former PC governments.
However, just a year ago Ball sang a different tune, saying it wasn't realistic to expect Ottawa to bail out the province.
Getting our share
On Thursday, Ball told reporters there's a good argument to be made for the Newfoundland and Labrador getting assistance given the province's current fiscal situation.
Ball said while talks are still a year away, it's pretty clear that some federal assistance is needed to help alleviate some of the province's financial woes.
"We're going to stand up for this province and we will make sure that we get our share. If it's equalization, if it's federal financing or leveraging in any capacity we're going to go after it," said Ball.
"But we're not just going to completely rely on equalization to solve our problems – that's not the issue – but we will leverage every opportunity that we can to get federal money to Newfoundland and Labrador."
With files from Peter Cowan