Cape Breton deserves more transfer cash
During the past 20 years, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has been treated extremely unfairly by consecutive Nova Scotia governments when it comes to the redistribution of federal transfer money throughout the province.
Three premiers in a row – one from each party – have refused to give CBRM and all of Cape Breton its fair share of this cash, which this year alone will amount to over $3 billion.
In the fiscal year 2017-18, Nova Scotia’s share of equalization money from Ottawa is $1,78 billion. We in CBRM can expect to see about one per cent of that money (about $20 million) with the rest ending up in the Halifax coffers, according to Professor Jim Guy’s calculations in his Political Insights column which appeared in the Cape Breton Post on Oct. 26.
By comparison, Prince Edward Island, with a population of 142,907 compared to Cape Breton’s 132,010, will get $390 million in equalization payments for 2017-18.
By population then, Cape Breton, with 10,000 less people than Prince Edward Island, should be getting a $350 million share of provincial equalization money, not $20 million. If we got our fair share of that money the taxes in CBRM would not be one of the highest in Canada.
CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke has been trying to get a fair share of that money from the provincial government by being more cordial than his predecessor, John Morgan. As we remember, Morgan got so frustrated with trying to deal with the premiers that he took the province to court to try to get a fair shake without success.
So where do we in Cape Breton turn from here? Can we appeal directly to a fair-minded prime minister through our Liberal MPs in order to get our fair share of that federal transfer money? Should Cape Breton become a province again? The diplomatic method and the provincial court method have not worked.
So what options are left? CBRM’s share of the equalization money that Cape Breton should get would be over $260 million. Instead we will get less than $20 million.
If we got our fair share, a lot of roads could be fixed, x-ray machines could be bought, hospital emergency rooms could be kept open 20 hours every day and our high taxes could be reduced greatly. CBRM might even start to look like a booming metropolis. Like, say, Halifax.
Greg MacInnis Sydney