Sunday, March 25, 2007

Equalizing Quebec

Toronto Sun Columnist Greg Weston reminds Canadians of some statistics regarding Quebec's equalization:
For instance, of all the $12.7 billion in “equalization payments” that will be transferred this year through the feds from the three “rich” provinces — Ontario, Alberta and B.C. — to the seven have-nots, Quebec will get 56% of the loot, up from 49% a year ago.

National dole

Similarly, Quebec may have 25% of the population, but it will now be getting 33% of the nearly $50 billion the feds will give in total to all the provinces this year for health, education, social programs and equalization.

What is increasingly galling is the reason Quebec remains on the national dole is not due to some economic disadvantage of geography, weather or obsolete industry.

The reason Canadian taxpayers are once again being sucked dry is to compensate a province with a huge debt and bloated bureaucracy, a labour force dominated by big unions and low productivity, language and education laws that discourage new industry, and a political climate of uncertainly that keeps investors looking elsewhere.

This year, the average Canadian taxpayer will send just under $1,000 to Quebec, money that will help pay for cheap government auto insurance, and subsidized $7-a-day child care.

Equalization is loosely justified by the rationale that Canadians living in any province should have comparable social services. But when a province has an excess of social services, isn't it time to cut them off?