August 29, 2014 – Charlottetown, PE – 55th Annual Premiers’ Conference

Canada’s Premiers concluded their 55th annual summer meeting today in Charlottetown.

The meetings began yesterday with a discussion on the opportunities and challenges facing the Canadian federation on the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference. The special session was held in Prince Edward Island’s Province House, where, in 1864, the Fathers of Confederation began work on defining the future roles and responsibilities of the federal, provincial and territorial governments. This work continued at conferences in Québec City and London, culminating in the British North America Act and later in the Constitution Acts and amendments. During the discussion, it was acknowledged that Quebec has not agreed to the Constitution Act of 1982.

Premiers agreed that the Canadian federation has fulfilled many of the aspirations of its founders. To continue to build a strong federation, Canada’s Premiers remain committed to working together to create jobs and improve the economy in a competitive global climate while fostering a fair and inclusive society where citizens have access to public services and economic opportunities that support their well-being.

Federal program changes affect provinces and territories

While provinces and territories continue to undertake initiatives to manage program spending and grow the economy, Premiers remain concerned that the federal government’s unilateral changes to these fiscal arrangements and programs will negatively affect provinces and territories. Some of the measures the federal government has employed to achieve its surplus have created additional pressures on provincial and territorial governments and will impact services to Canadians. In addition, should the federal government introduce income splitting this would impact revenues of some provinces and territories. This downloading of funding responsibilities, along with the changing needs of Canadians in an increasingly competitive global economy, points to the need for changes in Canada’s fiscal arrangements.

Since 2006, the federal government has cut back financial support and downloaded responsibilities many times. The following examples illustrate federal withdrawal from its responsibilities for funding and delivering services that Canadians expect. This has impacted all sectors and all groups of Canadians, from businesses and workers to families, First Nations and vulnerable people.

Program Change/Impact
Canada Health Transfer (CHT) – Reduction in Growth Rate
The CHT is a federal block transfer to provinces and territories (PT) to support PT health care systems,
In 2011, the federal government announced that the CHT will grow in line with nominal GDP growth, with a floor of three per cent per year, starting in 2017- 18. Total CHT will be reduced by almost $25 billion nationally from 2017-18 to 2023-24 due to the reduction in the growth rate.