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Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (R) delivers the provincial budget as Premier Dalton McGuinty looks on at Queens Park in Toronto, March 27, 2012. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch/REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan (R) delivers the provincial budget as Premier Dalton McGuinty looks on at Queens Park in Toronto, March 27, 2012. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch/REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Love it or hate it: Provinces react to federal budget Add to ...

“Overall, I was looking to see whether this budget was going to be a huge victory or a huge loss for Saskatchewan,” he said. “Our initial take is that it doesn’t seem to have hugely negatively impacted our province.” - Dennis Choquette

Manitoba

“We all recognize that we have to move out of deficits across the country, but we're concerned that this budget does not protect the things that matter to Manitobans, like education and health care,” Premier Greg Selinger said.

He said Manitoba is not receiving any transfer payments from the federal government this year, for the third year in a row.

“This budget is a budget that puts jobs at risk and it puts health care at risk,” he added.

The NDP Premier also criticized the government for plans to increase the retirement age and scale back Old Age Security payments. He said that will put more pressure on the provinces to pick up the difference.

“We think that being able to retire with dignity at 65 is very important for anybody regardless of what generation they are in and we think it's affordable given the system we have in Canada.”

He also worried about federal service job cuts, particularly in the Department of Agriculture, which has hundreds of employees in the province. He said eliminating the penny won't likely impact jobs at the Royal Mint location in Winnipeg, which makes the coin. But he said there still could be job cuts at the Mint.

Mr. Selinger did credit Ottawa for increasing education for first nations people and improving water supplies on reserves. - Paul Waldie

Quebec

The Quebec government is worried about the medium-term impact the federal budget will have on the province’s finances.

“In the short term the budget doesn’t seem to create any handicaps for us, but in the medium term it does confirm decisions that will hurt Quebec,” Finance Minister Raymond Bachand said.

Mr. Bachand said he can’t understand why Ottawa refused to reconsider the decision to impose unilateral changes to health-care funding. “It is all the more incomprehensible that in 2016 Ottawa will have important surpluses yet they stubbornly refuse to negotiate with the provinces,” he said.

There will be a federal election before then, he added, which allows the provinces to mount a campaign to force the federal government to re-examine its position.

“We have time to put it once again in the political arena so that the citizens of Canada can make their decision at that time,” Mr. Bachand said.

Quebec is also concerned over changes to Old Age Security, claiming that the province will have to carry the burden of low-income earners who at age 65 and 66 may be required to receive provincial welfare payments before starting to collect federal money.

“Once again I deplore that this is being done unilaterally. It is something that should have been discussed with the provinces...because people who aren’t covered by old age pensions and who are poor will have to collect welfare,” Mr. Bachand said.

However, the Liberal finance minister applauded Ottawa’s decision to create pooled retirement pension plans for workers without a plan. Quebec unveiled a similar initiative in last week’s provincial budget but needed Ottawa to do the same in order to facilitate its implementation.

Mr. Bachand was particularly upset that the federal government is still considering setting up a national securities commission, after the Supreme Court recently ruled it was a provincial jurisdiction.

Quebec also wants to take a closer look at the federal government’s proposal to fast-track the environmental assessment process for major development projects. If the proposal is to simplify the process and avoid duplication, “ then it is an excellent idea” Mr. Bachand said. But if the result is to avoid proper assessment of projects then Quebec will need to be cautious on how it deals with the change. - Rhéal Séguin

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia's NDP government is concerned cuts to National Defence spending could affect the $25-billion shipbuilding contract that Ottawa awarded the Irving shipyard in Halifax.

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