On Monday March 22, during consideration of a Supply motion (basically a motion by the Pallister government to allow it to spend in advance of the budget. I asked a question about the relative contribution of the federal government to the province's extra expenditures this last year as a result of the COVID pandemic. From the exchange below you can see that the actual federal contribution this last year was to provide to the province about 45% of the money needed for the extra COVID related expenditures. Scott Fielding, the Minister of Finance, tries to diminish this by suggesting the proportion is only 20% when he uses calculations which include the province's cuts to this years spending and the projected provincial spending in future years. It should be noted that even the 45% actual number does not reflect the fact that the federal government contributes substantial health care and equalization dollars which are then included by the province as part of its 55% contribution to the extra COVID-19 related expenditures this year. It would be better for cooperative federalism if the province more accurately acknowledged the federal contribution, and the importance of the federal-provincial partnership.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): My question to the minister is follow-up from one earlier on. In the mid-term report, the money from the federal government was $648 million. The minister said that this was 20 per cent of the extra expenditures, but in that same mid-year report, it says that the extra expenditures–total expenditure change on page 9 was $1.456 billion; the $648 million is actually about 45 per cent, not just 20 per cent. Would the minister agree with that correction?
Mr. Fielding: No, I don't, unfortunately. So if you look at the mid-year report with–it identifies in this fiscal year, as of the mid-term report, is that we made about $1.8 billion of expenditures for things like health, education, supports for people as well as businesses. The reason why the number of expenditures goes to 1.4 is because there's some savings in other departments; that monies was not spent. The $3.2 billion represents additional expenditures that go into other years, whether that be things like capital expenditures which we committed over a two-year period.
So the money that was negotiated by our Premier (Mr. Pallister) with the other premiers, with the Prime Minister and the federal government is very much needed, but only represents about 20 per cent of our spend of the 3.2.