December 16, 2019

Changes To Fiscal Stabilization Top Harpauer's Agenda At Finance Minister's Meeting

Improving fiscal stabilization for all Canadian provinces will be the focus of Saskatchewan Finance Minister Donna Harpauer when Canada’s finance ministers come together in Ottawa on Tuesday for their annual meeting.

Canada’s Premiers recently reached a consensus that changes to fiscal stabilization are needed,” Harpauer said.  “Program funding is not sufficient for provinces that experience unexpected fiscal challenges, and the program needs to be more responsive to economic shocks and downturns.  Saskatchewan is calling on the federal government to make the necessary immediate improvements to fiscal stabilization.”

Several changes to the fiscal stabilization program are being proposed, including:

  • Removing the $60 per capita limit on stabilization payments;
  • Lowering the qualifying threshold for non-resource revenues;
  • Making these changes retroactive to include the 2015-16 fiscal year.

All provinces have also asked the federal Finance Minister to include health transfers on the meeting agenda.  Saskatchewan supports the recent unanimous call put forward by Canada’s Premiers to set the annual escalator for the Canada Health Transfer to 5.2 per cent—the level recommended by the Conference Board of Canada.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Harpauer will also highlight the need for the federal government to re-examine the mortgage stress test.  A task that was included in the updated Mandate Letter to the Federal Minister of Finance.

“In Saskatchewan, the stress test has done more harm than good, preventing a disproportionate number of families from being able to afford a home,” Harpauer said.

Harpauer also wants changes to the Investing in Canada Program and will be asking the federal government to work directly with provinces to set infrastructure priorities and approve projects.

“These changes would allow provinces to better target infrastructure spending to the areas of highest need and would help accelerate key projects,” Harpauer said.