Published: Tue, December 03, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Premiers to meet, try to find consensus amid a host of issues

Premiers to meet, try to find consensus amid a host of issues

Monday's meeting, the first for the Council of the Federation since the October federal election, provided a stark contrast to federal-provincial tensions that have emerged since.

In a joint statement, Canada's premiers said removing the per-capita cap and giving back payments retroactively from past years are possible remedies.

The Council of the Federation asked Ottawa to consider changes to the Fiscal Stabilization Program, which provides financial aid to provinces that undergo sudden economic disruption, so that more federal funds can be directed to parts of Canada negatively impacted by volatile global energy markets in recent years.

Ford wants to discuss job creation and internal trade.

"We were very, very productive when we met in Saskatchewan (at the last premiers' meeting)", Ford specified.

"So it is a program that definitely should be looked at and we're going to have some very good discussions about fiscal stabilization".

It was one of four priorities where the provincial heads found consensus.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan, who has previously said he would be "delighted" to see a national pharmacare program, noted that the funding increase was needed more urgently for frontline care.

"We can be responsible enough to put together a new program that meets our needs", he said.

On Thursday, Moe had acknowledged equalization is a divisive topic.

"(The goal is) to ensure that that program can do what it was created to do to be a reactive program for all provinces - not just today but into the future", Moe said.

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Kenney is on side as well.

Alberta received about $250 million from the program in 2016, which amounts to $60 per Albertan, the maximum the program allows. Alberta's finances have taken a huge hit from low oil prices, which have harmed its major industry.

Several premiers said that now may not be the right time for a national pharmacare program - a promise the Liberals made during the federal election.

Kenney added Sunday in Calgary the cap should be lifted retroactively "to recognize the pain we've been going through for five years".

Ontario Premier Doug Ford began the setting up by putting on a Winnipeg Blue Bombers jacket, after he lost a wager to Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister over the Gray Cup, whereby the Winnipeg team defeated the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Ford after that distributed Toronto Maple Leafs jackets to every one of the premiers and also invited them to Ontario.

The potential plan - which Kenney said would not be implemented before passing a provincial referendum - could be worth $45 billion for the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo).

Funding under the stabilization program is now made available to any province whose annual non-resource revenues decline by more than five per cent.

Climate policy will be a tougher area to get all parties agreeing.

"We just want to get more resources so we can do our share to mitigate the effects of climate change".

Pallister's government recently announced it is rolling out ads in Quebec that welcome government workers to move to Manitoba if they feel threatened by the ban.

But Ford said Sunday he is confident the premiers can find some areas of agreement.

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