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May 7, 2012 Update: My Freedom of Information request is now on the government website, click here.

May 3, 2012

Clark's Health Transfer Proposal Fails

We now know that Premier Clark's proposed modification to reductions in the Canada Health Transfer will leave BC with a loss of $154 million per year.

On January 17, 2012 Clark chaired the Council of the Federations meeting in Victoria. Prior to the meeting, Clark endorsed Prime Minister Harper's changes to the Canada Health Transfer subject to her proposal to replace equal population shares with equal age-adjusted population shares. At the time I wrote that I doubted whether the Ministry of Finance produced calculations showing that Clark's approach would offset the $250 million per year that Harper's formula will cost BC starting in 2014-2015. I submitted a freedom of information request for any work done on the issue by the Ministry of Finance.

The response to my information request will soon be posted to the "open government website" where responses to most information requests are made a couple of days after a response is sent to the request. I received a Ministry of Finance document with the key table blanked out but the data used to produce that table remained in the document. It shows that under Harper’s formula BC would receive 13.4% of the total federal health transfers, but under Clark's age adjusted formula BC would receive 13.7%. When applied to total transfers of $32.1 billion, that 0.3% difference equals $96.3 million. It would reduce the cost to BC from a $250 million loss to a $154 million loss, putting Clark on record as supporting that cut in federal transfers to BC.

Clark's proposal would result in Alberta and Ontario losing relative to Harper's formula. Alberta would receive $385 million less and Ontario $128 million less. Not only does Clark's proposal cost BC $154 million but it is unlikely to succeed against the opposition of Alberta and Ontario.

The next time Clark represents BC in high stakes negotiations, she needs to be accompanied by staff who are thoroughly briefed on the file.