Minister Dwight Duncan's Statement On Finance Ministers' Meeting
A Number of Items Need Attention, But Federal Government Risking Further Auto Sector Instability
TORONTO - We had a frank discussion today during which I provided the federal government with a better understanding of the full range of Ontario's expectation for fairness. Ontarians should be treated fairly. We are not looking for a special deal - just fairness.
The federal government must respond to the current economic uncertainty by taking pragmatic, practical actions that support key sectors of the economy.
Globally, the crisis in financial markets has undermined business and consumer confidence, not just in Ontario or Canada, but around the world.
Ontario has qualified for equalization five times in the past. When we receive equalization payments, Ontarians would just be paying ourselves out of the billions of dollars we send to Ottawa for redistribution.
The federal government can help Ontarians in a number of ways:
- If an unemployed worker in Ontario received the average EI benefit that an unemployed worker in another province receives, that worker would get $4,630 more each year. Across Ontario, the shortfall in EI benefits amounts to $2.1 billion each year.
- Ontario should receive equal infrastructure funding for Ontario - currently the province is short-changed by $970 million.
- Partner with Ontario to promote investment and jobs through a meaningful southern Ontario economic development strategy.
- The federal government must also take a more active role in supporting the automotive sector, which is a key component of both the Ontario and national economies. The auto sector is just as critical to the fortunes of the Canadian economy as is the banking sector.
- Ontarians count more than ever on the vital services that government provides, and we must have the support of the federal government to ensure that we can protect the quality of our public services while we manage our finances in a prudent and responsible manner.
I was delighted to see the consensus today among the Ministers that we will work together in the following areas: pensions; access to capital; infrastructure; and, improving the regulatory environment.
We are confident that we have the right plan to help the economy through these troubled times. Our 2008 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review reaffirmed our commitment to sensible stewardship of Ontario, which is supported by our comprehensive five-point economic plan.