News Release - August 9, 2005
SASKATCHEWAN'S EQUALIZATION FIGHT CONTINUES
Canada's Equalization program is still not working like it should. That was the message that Premier Lorne Calvert and Finance Minister Harry Van Mulligen gave to the Expert Panel on Equalization when they met with panel members yesterday in Regina.
"Treatment of Saskatchewan's non-renewable resources continues to be a problem under equalization. It punishes development in the energy sector and exports the financial benefits from our energy resources to other provinces," Calvert said. "We need to keep this issue front and center with the federal government. Right now, the expert panel is the best means to affect change in the program and I am hopeful the panel members will take our concerns seriously as they prepare their final report. It is an immense task they have in front of them, but one vitally important to Canadian Federalism."
The government made a formal presentation to the panel in June and Monday's meeting was another opportunity to bring forward Saskatchewan's demands.
"We concentrated on Saskatchewan's concerns over the treatment of our non-renewable resources," Van Mulligen said. "We continue to face clawbacks and we still don't have an agreement in place that will allow Saskatchewan residents to retain the full financial benefits from resource development in the province. It was the federal government that defined a new standard for the treatment of energy resources when they signed the Atlantic Accords. Our question remains: why is this standard not being applied equally to all jurisdictions?"
The Saskatchewan government has been a proponent for change to the Equalization program for years. While there has been some movement from the federal government on addressing past inequities, there is still no resolution to the unfair treatment of Saskatchewan's non-renewable resource revenues.
"If Saskatchewan had enjoyed the same protection we would have retained $4 billion in natural resource revenues over the last 10 years," Van Mulligen said. "Saskatchewan should be able to reinvest these funds for the benefit of the people of the province.
"We had a good discussion with the panel members," Van Mulligen added. "They seem to understand Saskatchewan's concerns, as well as the issues other jurisdictions are facing. Equalization is an important program, but currently we do not see the intrinsic Canadian values of fairness and equity reflected in its formula. We need to resolve these issues and move forward."
The panel will present its final report to the Federal Minister of Finance by December.
The formal presentation made by the Government of Saskatchewan to the Expert Panel on Equalization last June is available online at: www.gov.sk.ca/finance/e-paper.pdf
For More Information, Contact: