Federal transfer payments should make us “equal as citizens”

A new book by Nova Scotia author Richard Starr points to the gap between what federal transfer payments are meant to do and the current reality.

Federal transfer payments were meant to ensure Canadians in all parts of the country had equal access to public services – something Canadians overwhelmingly support. But the portrayal of those payments as a means for poorer provinces to “leech” off better off ones has made it possible to undermine federal equalization programs.

A Tyee article on the book points out that federal equalization payments are not seen as an exciting topic. But, with the role federal funding plays in public services like health care, lack of attention has dangerous consequences.


WOMEN ACTIVISTS skip Fri, 03/16/2018 - 01:57


CINDY BLACKSTOCK has been described as the ‘relentless moral voice’ for First Nations equality, a ‘rock star social worker’, and even ‘Canada’s Martin Luther King’.

SOME CALL CINDY BLACKSTOCK THE "RELENTLESS AND MORAL VOICE" FOR FIRST NATION'S EQUALITY, a “rock star social worker”, and even “Canada’s Martin Luther King”. She may be all that. But what Cindy Blackstock is most is a tenacious and victorious leader in the fight for, and defender of, the rights of our 163,000 indigenous children.

Cindy leads that fight as the Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. She is determined to have our indigenous children come to know how very much they matter in a world that tells them they don’t. Her basic premise is simple: First Nation’s children deserve to be treated the same as all other Canadian children.

Bonnie Lysyk is just the latest in a long list of government auditors general to find privatization proponents playing costly numbers games

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk's revelation on Dec. 9, 2014, that privatization has cost the province more than $8 billion should come as no surprise: she's the third Ontario auditor general in a row to debunk claims that P3 privatization schemes save money.

Each of the Ontario's last three auditors general have found that privatization proponents have artificially inflated the costs of public delivery in order to make their schemes look good. And this is not just an Ontario problem. Quebec's Auditor General and a forensic auditor in BC have all come to similar conclusions when examining P3 privatization schemes in those provinces.

In Ontario and Quebec, the numbers game is played by artificially inflating the value of the risk faced by the public sector if infrastructure projects are publicly delivered:

  • Lysyk found “no empirical data supporting the key assumptions used by Infrastructure Ontario to assign costs to specific risks.”

  • Her predecessor, Jim McCarter, audited part of the Air Rail Link to Pearson Airport and “saw no evidence that the estimates of the risks of delivering the spur under traditional procurement were based on actual experience of similar, traditionally procured transportation projects.”

  • And before that, Provincial Auditor Erik Peters, found “cost estimates for the government to do the project were overstated by a net amount of $634 million” when auditing the Brampton Civic Hospital P3 privatization scheme.

  • In Quebec, the Auditor General found the justification for two Montreal P3 privatization schemes was based on “inappropriate” and “unfounded” assumptions.

Partnerships BC found another way to artificially inflate the cost of public delivery. A 2009 report from two forensic accountants found that the future cost of government borrowing had been artificially inflated.

The frequency with which these numbers games get played when P3 privatization schemes are being proposed means they can’t be dismissed as isolated examples. They are part and parcel of privatization.