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

Press Release –

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.

RCMP Health Care

Prior to June 29, 2012, the federal Canada Health Act specifically excluded Royal Canadian Mounted Policy (RCMP) from the definition of “insured person” for provincial / territorial health insurance.

On June 29, 2012, via federal Bill C-38, the federal Canada Health Act was amended so that members of the RCMP are now included in the definition of an “insured person” and thus eligible to register under provincial and territorial health insurance programs. 19,000 Regular Members (i.e. trained and sworn Peace Officers) of the RCMP became eligible to register under provincial and territorial health insurance programs, resulting in cost savings for the federal government by downloading costs to PTs. However in the future, in some jurisdictions, costs of policing contracts with the federal government may decrease to help offset these costs.
Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP)

IFHP provides limited temporary coverage of health-care costs to protected persons who are not eligible for PT health insurance plans and where a claim cannot be made under private health insurance. These protected persons include resettled refugees, refugee claimants, certain persons detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and other specified groups.

In 2012, funding was reduced for health expenses for refugee claimants. The federal government effectively downloaded federal costs onto provincial health care systems. Changes to the IFHP may also contribute to an increase in requests for social assistance.

Analysis by the Wellesley Institute outlines several detrimental effects including negative impacts to basic health, greater reliance on emergency rooms and urgent care, greater administrative complexity, and particular risks to women and children.

Immigration Settlement Funding Formula

The federal government funds services that help newcomers settle and adapt to life in Canada, including free language training, information and referrals, etc.

In 2011, the federal government announced it would revise the settlement funding formula to reflect a province or territory’s share of immigrant intake, which will change the distribution of federal settlement funding.

The federal government has also reduced total spending on settlement services from $622 million in 2010-11 to $577 million in 2012-13.

Immigrant Investor Program (IIP)

The Immigrant Investor Program (IIP) attracts experienced business people to contribute to Canada’s growth and long-term prosperity by investing in Canada’s economy. Eligible investors must show that they have business experience, have a net worth of at least C$1,600,000 that was gained legally, and invest $800,000. This program was cancelled due to a large backlog in applications and poor integration of immigrant investors.

Applications for this program were stopped in July 2012 due to the backlog, and the program was terminated in June 2014. The Quebec Investor Program was not affected by this decision.

The termination of this program reduces foreign investment in provinces and territories. The average amount of investment from this program over the past three years is $2.35B/year.

The federal government has announced their intention to develop similar pilot programs, such as the Start-up Visa Program, which has stricter requirements.

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