News Release Archive


Canada's national well-being would be negatively impacted by
transferring control of social programs from Ottawa to the
provinces, Premier John Savage said today in an address to the
Empire Club in Toronto.

"If every have-not province paid full fare for its social
programs, this country's existing disparities would be greatly
magnified," the premier said.

He said the result --- more discord, bickering and resentment
--- would undermine the need for greater co-operation, "so vital
for our national well-being."

"As our east-west economic links slacken to take advantage of the
continental north-south pull, it's generally agreed we must
maintain social bonds, like Medicare, which Canadians recognize
as national family traits -- as entitlements of citizenship and
unifying features of the country," Premier Savage said.

Premier Savage warned against the evolution of a Canada where
Canadians in richer provinces have substantially better social
programs than those in poorer provinces, thereby leading to two
classes of citizenship in the country.

"I'm certain Canadians won't buy that ... if they did 'Have
Canada' would end up regretting it," he said, citing population
migration that would upset the economic balance.

The premier told the Toronto audience that Ontario's notion of
getting 100 cents back in benefits for every dollar it puts into
the kitty for national social programs, is unacceptable. "If we
adopt that kind of attitude, we won't have to worry about the
consequences of a Canada without Quebec; we'll already be well on
our way to disintegration."

Premier Savage took exception to the notion that provinces such
as Nova Scotia don't pull their financial weight in the Canadian

He said that federal taxes collected in Nova Scotia as a
proportion of personal income were the highest in Canada in 1993.
At the same time, he said, Nova Scotia is much less dependent on
federal spending than was previously the case, noting the federal
expenditures on goods and services in Nova Scotia experienced the
fastest decline in all of Canada from 1980 to 1994.

"It isn't true either to say we aren't economically important to
central Canada," the premier said, citing a recent Statistics
Canada analysis of inter-provincial trade which showed that Nova
Scotia's inter-provincial imports were worth $6.5 billion, nearly
twice as much as its exports.

He pointed out that slightly over half the value of those imports
comes from Ontario, with Quebec next in line with 24 per cent.
"Don't tell me that isn't important to the Ontario economy!"

Premier Savage made it clear he believes all of Canada will
benefit from the current signs of new wealth in eastern Canada.

"If current plans come to fruition about 30 per cent of Canada's
oil and gas production will come from the east coast within the
next five years," Premier Savage said.

He said the combined effect of Hibernia and Terra Nova off
Newfoundland and Sable gas off Nova Scotia present a big
potential plus not only for the Atlantic region, but for the
national economy.

"We anticipate the Sable offshore project will play a significant
part in our desire to reach greater economic independence ... in
the meantime, we remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that
any changes to existing federal-provincial fiscal arrangements
don't penalize any one part of the country," he said.


Contact: David Harrigan  902-497-3817

trp                       Oct. 15, 1996 - 5:05 p.m.