Opinion Column

Struthers' math doesn't add up

Provencher MP, Vic Toews

Federal support for provinces and territories is at an all-time high, and it will continue to grow under our Conservative government.

It is therefore surprising to hear Manitoba's Finance Minister, Stan Struthers, publicly complain about the level of funding to our province.

With respect to Manitoba, in 2012-13 the province will receive record high support through major federal transfers totaling nearly $3.4 billion - an increase of $644 million (or 24 per cent) from the previous Liberal government. This includes nearly $1.7 billion through Equalization and over $1 billion through the Canada Health Transfer, which represents an increase of $278 million (or 35 per cent) from the Liberals.

These figures also include $429 million through the Canada Social Transfer, an increase of $96 million (or 29 per cent) since the Liberals held office, as well as $201 million in Total Transfer Protection to Manitoba to ensure that the Manitoba government receives at least as much support this year as it did in 2011-12.

This long-term support helps ensure that Manitoba has the resources needed to provide essential public services such as health care, post-secondary education and other social services.

The move to an equal per capita cash allocation is part of a long-term plan that was publicly announced by our Government in 2007 to ensure that all Canadians receive the same health care support from the federal government - regardless of where they live.

Our Government has already moved the Canada Social Transfer (CST) to equal per capita cash support in 2007-08. Health transfers will follow in 2014-15, when the current arrangement expires. This was legislated and approved by Parliament in 2007.

The suggestion by this province's part-time finance Minister (who also oversees the provincial Agriculture portfolio) that Manitoba does not have the natural resources present in other provinces and is therefore entitled to increasingly large financial support from the federal government, is also misleading. Manitoba has been blessed with significant natural resources, including revenues from hydro-electricity which are not factored into the equalization payments it receives.

Manitoba receives more than 30 percent of its revenue from the federal government. These federal transfers, in combination with the abundant human and natural resources with which our province has been blessed, provide Manitoba with a very strong economic base.

The suggestion that the federal government is not fulfilling its obligations to Manitoba is both irresponsible and inaccurate.