British Columbia's Minister of Finance and Corporate Relations, Andrew Petter, presented the eighth annual Report of Western Finance Ministers to Premiers on behalf of the finance ministers of the Western Provinces and Territories. He noted that the consistency of Western views on many important national issues was often not given due appreciation by the federal government.
Previous Western Finance Ministers Reports have called on the federal government to effect a relationship of full partnership with the provinces and territories. The 1997 Report discusses how this partnership ideal has fared in practice.
There are two prominent areas where the federal-provincial-territorial partnership ideal has generally been a success: the National Child Benefit and infrastructure. In other areas, the federal-provincial/territorial partnership has been only partially successful.
Finally, there are areas where the partnership ideal has not been met: discriminatory federal taxation practices; federal offloading via the Canada Health and Social Transfer and the federal government's failure to assume its responsibilities for Aboriginal people.
In summary, Western Finance Ministers believe that events in the past year have not diminished the need for a significant restructuring of the federal-provincial/territorial fiscal relationship. Correcting the current fiscal imbalance between the federal government and the provinces and territories is needed so that, in future, the spending responsibilities of each order of government can be balanced by the opportunity to raise commensurate revenue. This reform will enable better funding protection for the national priorities of health care and education.
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