Cape Bre­ton de­serves more trans­fer cash

Cape Breton Post - - EDITIORIAL -

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

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