P.E.I. 'pleased' with province's share of equalization

Amid controversy over equalization payments to some provinces this week at finance ministers' meetings, P.E.I.'s finance minister says he is "relatively pleased" with the Island's share.

'We're certainly glad our province is successful right now'

P.E.I. still wants its 'fair share' from equalization, says Finance Minister Heath MacDonald. (CBC News: Compass)

Amid controversy over equalization payments to some provinces this week at finance ministers meetings, P.E.I.'s finance minister says he is "relatively pleased" with the Island's share. 

The country's finance ministers met Sunday night and Monday in Ottawa to discuss competitiveness, trade and equalization payments, where some provinces expressed opposition to the equalization formula — designed to help poorer "have not" provinces provide services comparable to those in richer provinces.

"Our province is doing very well so you win, you lose," said P.E.I. Finance Minister Health MacDonald. "But we're certainly glad our province is successful right now." 

'Singing the same tune'

For the first time since 2008, Ontario will not receive an equalization transfer from Ottawa, while Quebec will receive $13 billion from the program. The discrepancy has renewed perennial calls to overhaul the equalization formula.

"It wasn't that long ago that we were a poorer province, and perhaps we would have been singing the same tune," MacDonald said.

P.E.I. will receive the same amount in equalization payments this year as it did last year, he said, although P.E.I. will get an increase of $10 million in health and social transfers. 

The Island economy is doing well, he said, allowing for a smoother relationship with Ottawa. 

'The poor cousin'

MacDonald characterized the meetings as "cordial" and "constructive" and that he saw a lot of co-operation from the federal contingent. 

"You do feel for them because it wasn't that long ago that we were, Atlantic Canada as a whole, the poor cousin," MacDonald said. He credits P.E.I.'s diversified economy based on farming, fishing, tourism, aerospace and bioscience rather than natural resources such as oil or mining. 

"We're very fortunate," he concluded, maintaining P.E.I. still wants its "fair share" from equalization. 

The feds will provide $78.7 billion in transfer funding to provinces and territories during the next fiscal year. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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