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Newfoundland seeks federal funds after Alberta qualifies for bailout

Minister of Finance Bill Morneau responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Newfoundland and Labrador is expecting Ottawa to send millions its way now that Alberta has successfully qualified for $250-million under an obscure federal program that hasn't been used in more than 20 years.

Provincial Finance Minister Cathy Bennett said officials in St. John's are in the process of making an application to Ottawa under the Fiscal Stabilization Program.

"We have every confidence we will get the payment," she told The Globe and Mail in an interview.

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The province, which is grappling with a $2-billion budget deficit, is expecting to receive about $30-million.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau confirmed Tuesday that Alberta will receive $251.4-million under the program, which allows Ottawa to provide financial assistance to any province faced with a year-over-year decline in its non-resource revenues greater than 5 per cent.

The funding has been booked for the current fiscal year.

As a plunge in oil prices has opened up a hole in Alberta's finances, Premier Rachel Notley said on Tuesday that the federal aid was a good start but more help was needed from Ottawa. "Unfortunately it is not enough," she said. "We still have other matters to address with the federal government, employment insurance rules, the details of federal infrastructure investment and the need for us to work together on access to new markets."

The program's formula allows a qualifying province to receive a payment equal to $60 per person. The program has not been used since the 1993-94 fiscal year, when New Brunswick received a $6-million payment.

The Saskatchewan government has said it is monitoring its economic situation to see if it might qualify.

Finance Canada said Tuesday that should another province submit a claim under the program, it would be assessed quickly.

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With a report from Justin Giovannetti in Edmonton

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About the Authors
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

Economics Reporter

Rachelle Younglai is The Globe and Mail's economics reporter. More

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