Premiers call for more funds from Ottawa for aging population, infrastructure

Teresa Wright
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Published on August 28, 2014

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall chats with an actor with Confederation Players portraying Sir John A. Macdonald whn the premiers visited Province House Thursday. They are in Charlottetown for their meeting.

Published on August 28, 2014

Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne greets an actor portraying a Mother of Confederation when the premiers, who are meeting in Charlottetown, visited Province House Thursday. 

Published on August 28, 2014

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark greets an actor portraying Sir john A. Macdonald when the premiers meeting in Charlottetown paid a visitm to Province House Thursday.

Published on August 28, 2014

Premier Robert Ghiz and the other premiers walk up to Province House Thursday for a teour. The premiers are meeeting in Charlottetown until Friday.

Published on August 28, 2014

Canadian premiers and members of the Confederation Players walk up to Province House Thursday. The premiers are meeting in Chaarlottetown until Friday.

Published on August 28, 2014

A few protesters held signs and shouted a few times as the premiers walked up to Province House Thursday. The premiers are meeting in Charlottetown until Friday.

Published on August 28, 2014

Premiers and members of the Confederation Players walk up Great George Street Thursday in a reinactment of the walk the Fathers of Confederation took in 1864 when they landed in Charlottetown to begin laying the groundwork for the formation of Canada.

Published on August 28, 2014

082814 The premiers pose for a photograph on the steps of Province House Thursday along with the Confederation Players protraying the Fatherts and Mothers of Confederation. The premiers are meeeting in Charlottetown until Friday. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Published on August 28, 2014

082814 The premiers pose for a photograph on the steps of Province House Thursday along with the Confederation Players protraying the Fatherts and Mothers of Confederation. The premiers are meeeting in Charlottetown until Friday. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

Canada’s premiers say they need more money from the federal government for infrastructure and to deal with the rising costs of caring for an aging population, and they plan to put a dollar figure on their demands.

P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz, who is chairing the Council of the Federation meetings in Charlottetown this week, said Thursday all premiers were unanimous in voicing concern over the need for more infrastructure and health care funding from Ottawa.

OTHER ISSUES DISCUSSED THURSDAY

“Those are really the two areas where we have agreed as premiers that if we’re going to look for increases in funding that we believe are an integral part of improving the lives of our citizens and all Canadians, those two areas are the ones that we’ve been unanimous on in terms of moving forward.”

He pointed to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada that projects the country’s aging population will increase budget demands on the provinces while federal surpluses soar.

The report, entitled A Difficult Road Ahead: Canada’s Economic and Fiscal Prospects, was commissioned last year by the premiers.

It says Canada’s aging population will result in weaker economic growth and less revenue for governments to fund programs and services.

The rise in the number of seniors is also expected to increase demand for health care, which will create additional costs. This will make it difficult for provinces to balance their books in the long term, the report states.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board of Canada projects the federal government will improve its financial outlook, with an estimated $109 billion surplus by the year 2034-35.

The premiers said Thursday they believe this report lends credence to their concerns over the need for greater health transfers to the provinces.

But they will not rely only on this report.

A new task force will be struck to examine the impacts an aging population will have on the social and economic future of all provinces. It will launch a national conversation that will include key stakeholder groups.

This working group will also work out details for a new aging innovation fund, which the premiers believe the federal government should contribute to in order to help the provinces deal with the financial impacts of the country’s aging population.

But an official with federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose’s office says the federal government is already providing the highest recorded health care transfer dollars in history.

“Since we formed government, healthcare transfers have increased by almost 50 per cent,” Michael Bolkenius, spokesman for Ambrose’s office wrote in an email to The Guardian.

“The fact is that health transfer dollars are the highest they have ever been in Canadian history, and will continue to grow by at least 3 per cent per year.”

Ghiz said this is why the premiers commissioned the Conference Board of Canada report and why they will now come up with dollar figures to show just how much more they need to deal with their increasing health costs.

They will also do the same for infrastructure.

Kathleen Wynne, premier of Ontario, said the premiers all agreed on the need for more money from Ottawa for roads, bridges and buildings.

“There was consensus around the table that infrastructure and having reliable, predictable, resilient investment in infrastructure, is very important for the country and every province has got needs.”

Although the premiers did not reach consensus on every issue, they did all agree there is a growing fiscal imbalance between the provinces and the federal government.

“I think it’s deteriorating, and I think all the provinces are feeling that,” Wynne told reporters.

“We’re feeling it in different ways, and we believe there needs to be an improvement of that.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Conference Board of Canada, Canada Pension Plan, Province House

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada, Charlottetown A Difficult Road Ontario Alberta British Columbia Saskatchewan Newfoundland Manitoba Nunavut Great George Street

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Recent comments

  • Joe Blow
    August 29, 2014 - 13:00

    The Ghiz government were handed $25 million dollars by the Feds and what did they do? They wasted it on replacing a highway through Bonshaw that didn't need to be replaced. They basically threw that money away. They bought land that didn't need to be bought, they built roads that didn't need to be built and they gave money to Liberal supporters in exchange for their votes. The first thing we need to do is get rid of Ghiz and his band of merry morons and get an ACCOUNTABLE government that works for the people that pay their wages and stops putting the money we give them into their pockets.

  • rundall
    August 29, 2014 - 11:39

    surprise, surprise, - they all agreed to gun Ottawa for more money, and commission more reports. The one telling us about surplus by 2035 was wonderfully helpful-----I am sure. But "in terms of moving forward" did they come up with any national solution to the trade barriers, that they all seem to lament? Not one bright light among them, that have the brains to accomplish something significant. No wonder Harper refrain from joining this circus. Hope you all had a good time though - as we 'showcased' what we have to offer, to quote our own bright light.

  • Perfect
    August 29, 2014 - 11:22

    I am not in agreement with different things going on in Ottawa but one thing for sure, the Province of PEI does not have a system in place to accept more funds from Ottawa and make sure it gets spent where it is needed. These clowns have blown hundreds of millions in PNP, over millions and millions on 2014, millions and millions from the Irving fund for the Halifax Project and the list goes on and on. Mr.Harper or whomever comes in next, please do not waste $ on PEI until WE get our act together.

    • Let it go
      August 29, 2014 - 16:26

      PNP funds never came from the Federal Government. Let it go...PNP is a done deal.

  • rundall
    August 29, 2014 - 08:35

    surprise, surprise, - they all agreed to gun Ottawa for more money, and commission more reports. The one telling us about surplus by 2035 was wonderfully helpful-----I am sure. But "in terms of moving forward" did they come up with any national solution to the trade barriers, that they all seem to lament? Not one bright light among them, that have the brains to accomplish something significant. No wonder Harper refrain from joining this circus. Hope you all had a good time though - as we 'showcased' what we have to offer, to quote our own bright light.

  • kyle
    August 29, 2014 - 08:17

    "a new aging innovation fund" - what does that mean, - new ideas for aging faster? or for looking better while doing so? This whole affair has been so depressing, in 'terms of' realizing how void of intelligent, honest talent this current crop of Premiers are. It really is a rude awakening that our own Premier may not be the absolute dullest knife in the drawer, after all.

  • yeah right
    August 29, 2014 - 07:44

    When/if fed govt gives them $ they'll find a way to spend it elsewhere...especially the Ghiz govt.

  • Joe Blow
    August 28, 2014 - 23:29

    Ok.....well then they need to step up and do something about it!! The Premiers need to take action and make this happen. Force the Feds to fork over the cash. The money is there....lord knows we pay enough in taxes every year....there is no shortage of money....time to take care of business and look after the interests of the People instead of only the politicians.

  • Angus
    August 28, 2014 - 22:17

    I'm shocked, shocked I tell you! The premiers blame the Feds and want more money? The only thing surprising about this is that it rates a headline and a story. Has it ever been any different. Even the strutting for media pix look the same as far back as when PET was PM. Same old tired games, just a different cast of do-nothing characters posing for the mug shots and blaming Ottawa for their mis-management of the equalization funds they get. Useless the lot of them and $500K of corporate/union money wasted on them, that might have done some good elsewhere. No wonder no one wants to vote anymore, they give the Senate a bad name.