2001 Western Premiers’ Conference


MOOSE JAW, May 31, 2001 -- Western Premiers discussed and endorsed the 2001 Western Finance Ministers' Report, entitled Revitalizing Federal-Provincial/Territorial Fiscal Relations, and Premiers unanimously agreed that the recommendations in the report from their Finance Ministers would significantly strengthen intergovernmental fiscal relations. Premiers noted that the current state of relations between the two orders of government has resulted in limited progress on a number of key fiscal issues, including:

  • The current and future inadequacy of the federal government's financial contribution to the CHST in support of health, post-secondary education and other social programs;
  • The erosion in the effectiveness of the Equalization program in ensuring that all provinces have sufficient revenues to provide reasonably comparable services at reasonably comparable levels of taxation; and,
  • The current impasse that exists in negotiating new tax collection agreements.

Western Premiers are particularly concerned that the erosion in federal-provincial/territorial fiscal relations is creating problems of access to health, education and social services for all Canadians due to a growing imbalance between federal and provincial/territorial governments' capacity to provide key services. Federal revenue growth exceeds the growth of its expenditure responsibilities, creating increasing annual budget surpluses. Meanwhile, provincial and territorial governments are facing cost pressures, particularly in the areas of health, education and other social programs, that exceed the growth of their revenues. Canadians expect governments to direct their tax dollars toward these critical social programs. It is imperative that the federal government work with provinces and territories to establish an appropriate escalator for the CHST to ensure that Canadians receive the health care, education and other social programs they value.

Premiers noted that the federal government's failure to accept its full fiscal responsibilities for Aboriginal people impacts on their health and welfare, restricts their ability to take advantage of employment and business opportunities, and adds significant expenditure pressures on provinces and territories. They urged the federal government to move quickly in fully implementing its January 2001 Throne Speech commitments to Aboriginal people, including:

  • Ensuring that basic needs are met for jobs, health, education, housing, and infrastructure;
  • Improving and expanding early childhood development programs and services available in Aboriginal communities, and significantly reducing the number of Aboriginal newborns affected by fetal alcohol syndrome;
  • Significantly reducing the percentage of Aboriginal people entering the criminal justice system; and;
  • Strengthening Aboriginal entrepreneurial and business expertise, and governance.

Western Premiers called on the federal government to commit to regular semi-annual meetings of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Finance Ministers and Deputy Ministers:

  • A Spring meeting hosted by provinces/territories to discuss issues of joint responsibility including taxation policy and administration, economic policy, fiscal policy and intergovernmental transfer payments; and,
  • A Fall meeting hosted by the federal government to focus on the upcoming federal and provincial/territorial budgets.

Western Premiers also called for the federal government t

  • Immediately eliminate the ceiling on Equalization Program entitlements;
  • Improve co-ordination between the two orders of government on tax policies and administration; and,
  • Recognize its role and responsibility in responding to immediate and long-term challenges in areas such as agriculture and infrastructure.

Note: Mr. Gordon Campbell, Premier-elect of British Columbia, attended the 2001 Western Premiers' Conference. However, in his current role as Premier-elect, Mr. Campbell was unable to give the official endorsement of the Province of British Columbia to the positions and commitments outlined in this Communiqué.

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