Equalization has been the focus of Premier Scott Moe’s social media presence this week. Now, the premier has announced that he wants to renegotiate the formula, which sees wealthier provinces like Saskatchewan send money to the others.
“As we’re being restricted with our economy here in the province of Saskatchewan, we need to renegotiate the terms of equalization, and we need to start talking about how we reform this formula or this wealth sharing program,” Moe said.
Moe added more information on specific ideas will be announced in the coming weeks. However, he did say removing non-renewable resources might not be part of the discussion brought forward by Saskatchewan.
What’s helped spur this call for reform from Moe as a political landscape? He said that includes the federal government’s proposed carbon tax on jurisdictions that do not meet Ottawa’s standard in addition to B.C.’s opposition of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
“What has changed is our inability to continue to contribute to this. So, we want to have the discussion before we are a have-not province,” Moe said.
“This is not retaliatory, this is an initiative to show that we are equal across Canada and ensure we can not only continue to contribute, and contribute in an equal fashion, ensuring that we have access to our markets all around the world.”
Opposition leader Ryan Meili said this a reasonable request, pointing to former premier Lorne Calvert, pushing then Prime Minister Stephen Harper to exclude non-renewable resource revenue from the formula.
Once the Saskatchewan Party formed government, Premier Brad Wall initially continued this push, but ultimately dropped a court challenge over the inclusion of non-renewable resources in the formula.
“There is irony that this is the distraction of the day from this premier. That he’s found religion on this, when his predecessor had promised to pursue this and chose not to,” Meili said.
If this announcement does amount to real talk of renegotiating the complicated equalization formula, Meili said the Opposition NDP would be happy to take part.