Federal government to hike next year's transfers to Ontario by $1.25B - Macleans.ca

Federal government to hike next year’s transfers to Ontario by $1.25B

Ontario Liberals had complained that the federal government shortchanged the province in 2014-15 when it tweaked the transfer calculations

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TORONTO — Ontario will receive an additional $1.25 billion from the federal government next year, following a concerted campaign by the premier to get Ottawa to hand over more money in transfers.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and her finance minister had complained that the federal government shortchanged the province in 2014-15 by $640 million when it unilaterally tweaked the transfer calculations.

Wynne said Monday she was “very pleased” that Ottawa listened to Ontario’s concerns.

“Last year we were blindsided by a reduction that we had not expected and this year it seems as though there has been some movement,” she said.

Federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the province will receive more than $20.4 billion in transfers in 2015-16 — the most of any province.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa sent a letter to Oliver last week saying Ottawa’s changes to transfer payments put Ontario’s plan to eliminate its $12.5-billion deficit by 2017-18 at risk.

“Each year since the global recession, you ensured that provinces experiencing year-over-year declines in major transfers were made whole through protection payments,” Sousa wrote.

“This year, as Ontario was the only province to experience a decline in transfers, your government eliminated protection payments altogether, leaving Ontarians at a disadvantage.”

Sousa said Ottawa’s latest transfer figures for next year now put Ontario where it should be.

Wynne made oft-repeated criticisms of the federal government during the spring election campaign that saw her win a Liberal majority, including accusing Ottawa of balancing its books on the backs of the people of Ontario by cutting transfer payments for health and social spending.